Twins designate Ponson for assignment
First baseman/outfielder Jones called up from Triple-A
MINNEAPOLIS -- Sidney Ponson's short stint in the Twins rotation has now come to an end.The Twins designated Ponson for assignment on Sunday and called up first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones from Triple-A Rochester. "We tried and it didn't end up the way we wanted for either of us," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said of Ponson. "I'm disappointed at that, but we have to get going here and start producing." The move to designate Ponson comes after a rough outing in Saturday's game against the Tigers. The right-hander gave up six runs on six hits over just four innings. It was a continuation of earlier troubles Ponson saw this season as he went 2-5 with a 6.93 ERA over seven starts. The Twins now have 10 days to trade, release or send Ponson to the Minors. But it appears highly unlikely that Ponson will accept a Minor League assignment, and the assignment would entail pitching out of Rochester's bullpen, since there is no room in the rotation there. After seeing Ponson go 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA in five starts this spring, the Twins hoped he would provide a solid veteran presence and be an innings-eater in the rotation. But in the end, his inability to throw strikes and provide long outings -- averaging just around 5 1/3 innings per start -- cost Ponson his roster spot. "We were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We got a couple of [good outings], but he just wasn't consistent." Ponson spoke with reporters just before leaving the Metrodome on Sunday afternoon. He said his plans now are to head back to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and take some time to collect his thoughts. He said he wants to pitch again, but he'll wait and see what comes. As for the way things ended in Minnesota, Ponson had a feeling something was going to happen, and he wasn't upset with how he was let go. "It takes time for things to fall in place, and they didn't fall into place here," Ponson said. "I tried my best and put all I can on the field, but it wasn't good enough. They want to win, everybody wants to win, and they had to make a move and it happens." It's the third time in the past two seasons that Ponson has been through a situation like this. He was released by both the Cardinals and the Yankees last season, and though his off-the-field issues had been a big topic of conversation when the Twins signed him this offseason, they weren't a factor at all during his time in Minnesota. "We had a ball with him," Gardenhire said. "His past was his past. He tried to make some changes in his life, and he was great here. I think he did everything we asked. ... I think he's on the right path to cleaning everything up, and I think he's done a good job of it. He handled himself very good here." Though it wasn't the way Ponson wanted his stint with the Twins to end, he said he was grateful for the opportunity. "It was really fun being with all these guys the short period of time I was here, and I enjoyed it," Ponson said. "I wish everybody here good luck and now I have to move on." The Twins will now recall a pitcher from Rochester to start Saturday's game in Milwaukee, and left-hander Glen Perkins will remain in the bullpen. Perkins pitched four innings in Saturday's loss and the Twins were happy with what they saw. But the club would prefer that Perkins stay in the long-relief role, at least for now. "We like him in that role," Gardenhire said. "We extended him out [Saturday] night. He's able to get in some of these games and throw more breaking balls and all those things without having to worry about him too much. Like [Saturday] night, that was pretty good. He used his breaking ball better, his changeup can be better, but we liked what we saw." Neither Ryan or Gardenhire would go into specifics on who the callup might be. But the likely candidates are Kevin Slowey, Matt Garza and Scott Baker, all of whom have thrown well to start the season. While Slowey has put up the best numbers of the three, going 3-2 with a 1.51 ERA, the Twins could look to either Baker or Garza because of their experience at the Major League level. Having lost 15 of their last 21 games, the Twins certainly have struggled in all aspects of the game -- especially offensively. "We've not been going through a good stretch here of about 10-12 games, as we haven't played solid fundamental baseball in a lot of areas," Ryan said. "One day it's one thing and the next day it's a different area. But the least of concerns, even with the move on Ponson, is the pitching. Our pitching has been relatively decent. There just comes a time when you say, 'We have to make a move.'" Not needing a pitcher until Saturday, the Twins used the open roster spot to add another bat to the bench. Jones has hit .305 with nine doubles, five home runs and 23 RBIs in 30 games for the Red Wings this season. A left-handed bat, Jones will provide some power for a club that has hit an American League-low 19 homers so far this season "He's been a good bat for [the Red Wings]," Ryan said. "He's got some pop and he's got enough versatility. He's the right guy for us at this time." Jones will join the club on Tuesday in Cleveland for the start of the club's three-game series with the Indians. And while Jones' natural position is first base, he was moved to the outfield during Spring Training this year. The reasoning behind the decision was to afford the club the opportunity to get Jones' bat in the lineup with Justin Morneau solidly entrenched at first base. Jones started 12 games in the outfield for the Red Wings and showed improvement in playing the position. But all of the 12 starts came in right field, and the Twins will need him to play left if he's going to be a factor in the outfield. Jones will likely get his first tests in the designated hitter spot. "I'm just going to put him in the lineup and see what happens," Gardenhire said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.