Surprise! Aussie Thorpe's folks arrive for debut

Twins' No. 9 prospect starts series finale in place of Kyle Gibson

June 30th, 2019

CHICAGO -- After Saturday's game in Chicago, Twins travel director Mike Herman instructed Lewis Thorpe to put some shorts on and to follow him.

"I've still got my jersey on," Thorpe said to Herman.

"Don't worry about that," Herman replied.

Thorpe was led outside the visitors' clubhouse on the ground level of Guaranteed Rate Field -- and froze when he saw his parents, Ross and Lyn, waiting for him in the tunnel. He pulled his mother into a big hug, then his father -- and then, his mother again.

"I’ve never seen my dad cry like that," Thorpe said. "It was just a surreal feeling."

Due to the volatile nature of his role with the Twins, Thorpe hadn't expected his parents to be present for his debut this weekend, but they surprised him by making the long journey from his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, to be in the stands to watch him make his first Major League start Sunday against the White Sox, as was formally announced by the Twins following Saturday's 10-3 win.

Thorpe will become the 34th Australian to appear in the Major Leagues, and the eighth to do so for the Twins, joining James Beresford, Liam Hendriks, Luke Hughes, Justin Huber, Glenn Williams, Grant Balfour and Brad Thomas.

Thorpe -- the club's No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- had been called up to potentially provide length out of the Twins' bullpen after the club's 18-inning saga against the Rays on Thursday, and he hadn't been sure if he would be used Friday and immediately optioned back to Triple-A -- which would mean that his parents might potentially fly to the United States and miss it all.

"I was up until like 4 a.m. trying to figure that out, and there was one flight," Thorpe said before Saturday's game. "I didn't know if I was going to pitch [Friday] or not, but I want them to come over to actually see me, so I didn't know what was going to happen, so I didn't want them to waste their money and come over and then come to see me in Triple-A."

As it turned out, he wasn't needed in relief Friday or Saturday thanks to strong starts from Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda, and because Kyle Gibson -- Sunday's original starter -- was needed for an inning of relief Thursday, manager Rocco Baldelli opted to give the start to a fully rested Thorpe instead.

"I think most of us just found out that this was happening," Baldelli said. "It's pretty cool. [His parents] obviously came a very, very long way to be here, and I don't think they were going to miss it."

Thorpe hadn't seen his parents since the holidays, and they had last seen him pitch in 2018, when he was with Double-A Chattanooga, but was called up to Triple-A Rochester, forcing his parents to adjust all of their plans.

"They’ve done so much for me when I was younger; paying for tournaments and all that, driving all those hours to baseball carnivals and all that," Thorpe said. "It means so much to me that they’re here."

First pitch for Sunday's game is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV. The White Sox will counter with right-hander Lucas Giolito on the mound.