Twins call up Sierra, send down Kubel
Veteran to pinch-hit, while youngster requires more seasoning
MINNEAPOLIS -- With his right quad fully healed and a few games playing the outfield under his belt, Ruben Sierra is finally ready to make his Twins debut.Following Sunday's game against the Yankees, the Twins announced a roster move to purchase the contract of Sierra from Class A Fort Myers effective Tuesday, and optioned outfielder Jason Kubel to Triple-A Rochester. The move was not unexpected, as Sierra had to prove that he was healthy before the Twins brought him up to be a pinch-hitter. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to make sure that Sierra could be available to play in the outfield as well before the move was made, so he had more options on how to use him.
Sierra, 40, saw action in three games for the Miracle, including two stints in the outfield, and batted .250 (3-for-12) with one double and one RBI over that stretch.Knowing that a move was going to have to be made, Gardenhire had hinted that Kubel would be the player to go. Just a little over a year removed from knee surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2005 season, Kubel exceeded expectations by making the ballclub out of Spring Training. Gardenhire said that more consistent playing time is needed before Kubel is ready to stay at the big-league level. "He needs to go down and get everyday at-bats rather than sit up here on the bench," Gardenhire said. "He's missed a year-plus of baseball. We brought him up here and kept him up awhile to see where he's at. He's doing pretty good after being out a year of baseball." Despite knowing that the move was likely coming, it still wasn't the news that Kubel was hoping to hear. The 24-year-old felt the pressure to prove himself quickly at the big-league level, as he knew that he might not have long to make an impression. That seemed to affect his play, as Kubel hit .188 (3-for-16) in seven games for the Twins this season. "Ever since I got up here, I couldn't relax and get it off my mind," Kubel said of the potential move. "These last couple times I played, I was feeling really good, so I don't know if it was too late or not." Though disappointed, Kubel feels that his stay in Rochester might not be for long. "I know what is going to happen down there," Kubel said. "So I don't think I should be down too long." Now that Kubel is gone, Gardenhire said that he will keep the right-field spot a platoon between Lew Ford and Michael Cuddyer. Sierra will be available to play the outfield, but will be used mostly as a left-handed bat off the bench.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.