Meyer debuts in sticky situation
Right-hander gets out of jam before giving up 4 runs, 2 homers
MILWAUKEE -- Being shifted to the bullpen came as a relief for Alex Meyer, but his Major League debut on Friday offered little comfort. Meyer was called out of the bullpen after starter Trevor May managed to record just one out on his way to giving up six runs to the Brewers in a 10-4 loss.
Meyer did well escaping a two-on, one-out situation in the first inning, inducing fly balls from Gerardo Parra and Jonathan Lucroy. The second inning, however, was a little more difficult. The 25-year-old began the frame with a walk to Ryan Braun and later gave up home runs to both Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett.
Meyer allowed four runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings in what he called a learning experience.
"If you're behind [in the count], you can't just lay one in there," Meyer said. " I got behind 3-1 to Ramirez and thought, 'Just throw a strike over the plate,' but you can't do that, especially against a guy like that."
"I talked to him after the second inning, wanted to affirm that it was good to see him out there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He didn't seem like he was overwhelmed."
Meyer, ranked No. 3 among Twins prospects and No. 23 in baseball by MLB.com, made the switch to reliever in late May after struggling in the Minor Leagues as a starter. He went 3-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 17 games (eight starts) with Rochester.
"Obviously, I enjoy starting," Meyer said before Friday's game. "I've done it my whole life, but going out there and getting your teeth kicked in every game wasn't a good experience for me. I was fortunate to go to the bullpen."
Since the move, Meyer surrendered just one run and struck out 20 in 17 innings, prompting the call to the big leagues.
"Once I went to the bullpen, I just simplified things," Meyer said. "Go in there and attack hitters, quit trying to nibble on both sides of the plate trying to hit corners. If I had to put it one way, it's simplifying."
Meyer, 25, was acquired from the Nationals in November 2012, in exchange for outfielder Denard Span. He had been developing as a starter before this season's issues, but the change doesn't bother him.
Meyer credits the coaching staff at Rochester for making a smooth transition. He's been asked to pitch one-third of an inning, as well as pitch up to five innings as a reliever with Rochester. Molitor unknowingly predicted Friday's outcome before the game.
"He's been stretched out in the bullpen all the way to 60 pitches," Molitor said when asked when Meyer could be called on. "So fourth, fifth, sixth, maybe even earlier if something happened to my starter."
However, Molitor will operate with caution.
"You don't want to bring him in with the bases loaded, and say, 'OK, strike out three people,'" Molitor said. "You never know how it's going to unfold, but you want to be a litter careful to start."
Despite Friday night's effort, the Twins are ready for Meyer to contribute, though, and the rookie realizes he's been placed on a team that's in the race in the American League Central. Twins closer Glen Perkins, who made a similar transition to Meyer's, texted the young right-hander with words of encouragement when Meyer was made a reliever.
That's just one example of how the Twins have helped Meyer during this process.
"There's a lot of good guys in this clubhouse," Meyer said. "They want to win, so they're trying to give me every bit of help that they can."