ARLINGTON -- Once again, it's Lewis Thorpe's turn to provide innings out of the Twins' rotating bullpen, as the Australian southpaw was recalled from Triple-A Rochester for the third time this season after Devin Smeltzer was optioned following an extended relief appearance on Thursday night.
The 23-year-old Thorpe has a 3.18 ERA in four games -- including one start -- with the Twins this season. He last pitched on Tuesday, when he threw 42 pitches in three innings for Rochester but had his pitch count kept down in case he was needed in the Majors again.
At this point, Thorpe and the Twins' other long-relief options -- Smeltzer, Kohl Stewart, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak and the injured Sean Poppen -- generally know the drill.
"If [the Twins] need arms, they need arms, so we know the deal," Thorpe said. "It’s not like we get angry or anything when we get sent down. We’re just going down to get our work in, and when they need us, we come back up."
All of the above arms have generally shuttled up to the Majors to serve in relief roles despite all but Stashak primarily having served as starters in the Minors. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the Twins aren't looking to commit them to full-time relief roles yet because he prefers to have several players, like Thorpe and Smeltzer, stretched out to fill in as rotation options in case of injury.
"You never know what’s going to happen," Baldelli said. "We’ve been pretty good health-wise, and we’ve been lucky and our guys have done a good job taking care of themselves, but you do have to make sure the Thorpes and Smeltzers are stretched out enough where if we do need them to start, they’d be ready to start."
That transactional chaos certainly hasn't made life easier for Triple-A manager Joel Skinner and his staff, a reality that wasn't lost on Baldelli when he spoke with media before Friday's game.
But thanks in part to all of the shuffling necessary in Rochester, particularly in the rotation, opportunities have arisen for players who might not have been on the radar at the beginning of the season, like Stashak and Dobnak, and the chances for those prospects to see how their stuff plays in the Majors are meaningful for both team and player.
"The more guys that you can develop that can compete at this level, the better we're going to be," Baldelli said. "Like you mentioned, Dobnak comes up and does a really good job for us and hopefully will come up again and do a really good job for us. But the more guys that we have that can compete, the better."
Cruz could return early next week
Nelson Cruz's recovery continued with batting practice on the field before Friday's game against the Rangers, and the 39-year-old slugger reported no issues and that he felt "great" following the session through a team spokesperson.
Cruz has been on the 10-day injured list since last Friday after rupturing a tendon in the left wrist that has bothered him all season, but he did not feel pain in the area the next day, and Baldelli expressed optimism that Cruz could return to the field around or shortly after the minimum 10 days on the IL.
He is first eligible to be activated on Monday.
"Everything's been great and all the news has been fantastic, and he says he's feeling good and he's moving around well and doing a lot of good things," Baldelli said. "But we still want to make sure that he's feeling good the day before we're going to activate him before we would say anything firm."