May brings high hopes to Twins' bullpen
MINNEAPOLIS -- Perhaps the Twins' biggest need as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches on Friday is a reliever or two who can help bridge the gap to closer Glen Perkins. Minnesota might have found part of its solution in-house.
Rookie Trevor May started the season in the rotation, but he was the odd man out when Ervin Santana returned from his 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in early July. May has yet to throw a 1-2-3 inning from the bullpen in six appearances, though slowly but surely, he's been adapting, making four scoreless outings.
Both manager Paul Molitor and general manager Terry Ryan said the Twins had wanted to get May in a close game late, which they did Saturday. May threw a scoreless inning in the setup role, pitching past a single and a throwing error -- his own -- to strike out the Yankees' Brian McCann and hold the team's one-run lead.
"In the long term, we still consider him a guy that's going to be a starting pitcher," Ryan said. "But in the short term, right now, it looks like he might be able to help us as we get closer to the end of a game. And [Saturday] night gave us some hope that he could do that. He's got some of those things that you look for. He didn't panic."
Regardless of what role May -- or anybody -- takes on, Ryan said the team would continue to look at the market, as Minnesota is in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Twins will need a solid path to Perkins to get there.
Blaine Boyer established himself as the team's setup man early on, but he gradually started to shift to the seventh inning in favor of Casey Fien, who hasn't had the easiest go of it lately. Fien has given up five runs in 6 2/3 innings in July. Having May as an option in the setup role could potentially help stabilize what has become a somewhat rocky situation.
"[Saturday] was one of those first days since he's been out there that it kind of worked out where it seemed like the right day and the right time to give him a shot to go ahead and get those three outs with a one-run lead, and he responded," Molitor said. "Obviously he's a guy we feel that we can do that. On a given day, might it be Fien? Sure."
For his part, May seems willing to accept whatever role Minnesota gives him, and he said the team's relievers understand that all of the guys have fluid roles -- except for Perkins -- and are ready to step in when needed.
In the meantime, May has gotten advice from two pitchers who had been in similar situations about how to handle his transition. Aaron Thompson -- now at Triple-A Rochester -- talked to him about moving around during the game and not letting six innings pass him by, while starter Phil Hughes, who pitched out of the bullpen for the Yankees for a bit, mentored him on attacking guys and remaining aggressive.
May said it hasn't been the easiest transition for him, as he now has to be ready to throw at any time. But it's a transition that could yield positive results.
"We've got high hopes for him in a lot of areas," Ryan said. "We think he's got a chance to be a good starter, and right now the best spot for this team is right there where he pitched [Saturday] night, it looks like."