Notes: Ortiz moved to bullpen
Right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA this season
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins bullpen got a bit stronger on Monday due to a new addition -- Ramon Ortiz.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson met with Ortiz on Monday morning to inform him of his move from the rotation to the 'pen. The struggles of Ortiz in the rotation have been well documented, as the right-hander was 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA in 10 games. After starting off the year strong, Ortiz tallied a 10.97 ERA in the month of May and the Twins were 1-6 in his last seven starts. Telling Ortiz of the move wasn't an easy thing for Gardenhire, but he said the pitcher took the news well. "He's ready to help the team any way he can," Gardenhire said. "That's exactly what he told us. He said, 'Whatever you guys need me to do, that's what I'll do.' He gives everything he has all the time. He pitches for himself and his teammates, and he'll do that out of the bullpen just like he did as a starter." Despite having an off-day Thursday, Gardenhire said the club will not skip a spot in the rotation and will call up a pitcher to start Friday's game at Oakland. The expectation is it will be right-hander Kevin Slowey who gets the call. The move will come before the team leaves Thursday for a six-game West Coast trip. Slowey pitched Friday for Triple-A Rochester and threw eight scoreless innings in the start. In nine starts for the Red Wings this season, Slowey is 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA. "The people down there, would be set to throw [on Friday]," Gardenhire said. "So, we'll just give them the ball, rather than having them pitch another start down there. It's a good chance to keep everybody where they are at and give guys an extra day. It always refreshes them." The plan now is to try to get Ortiz back on track in the bullpen. The move comes at a time when the team could really use the extra arm in relief. With Matt Guerrier moved to late-inning situations, the Twins were without a proven innings-eater in the 'pen. Over the past few games, the Twins have kept an extra starter in the 'pen to have in case of an emergency. Now that situation will not have to occur, as Ortiz will provide the club with an arm that can extend out. "You need those long guys in case you run into problems," Gardenhire said. "He can be a big plus for us out there. I know he wants to be a starter and all, but he wants to help us. And that's what he'll do, wherever he is." As for whether Ortiz could regain his rotation spot at some point this year, Gardenhire did not rule that out as an option. "If somebody else struggles bad, and he's throwing the ball good, we can always do that," Gardenhire said. "But for now, he's in the bullpen." Moving back: The initial hope had been that Joe Mauer might be ready to return for one of the games against the White Sox. Mauer did run the bases for the first time Monday morning, but he has still been experiencing some lingering tightness in his leg. The team hopes that by pushing his running regimen a bit over the next two days, Mauer could be ready to return Friday for the West Coast trip. "He's still not there yet, but he's getting closer," Gardenhire said. "It's not quite there where he can take a full swing and just totally blow out of there and run, but we're really close."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.