DETROIT -- Matt Belisle pieced together one of his best Major League seasons last season with the Twins. Looking to reignite his career, the 38-year-old right-hander is ready to do it again.A day after requesting and receiving his release from the Indians, Belisle signed an MLB deal with the Twins
DETROIT -- Matt Belisle pieced together one of his best Major League seasons last season with the Twins. Looking to reignite his career, the 38-year-old right-hander is ready to do it again.
A day after requesting and receiving his release from the Indians, Belisle signed an MLB deal with the Twins on Tuesday, capping off what was a whirlwind 24 hours for the veteran reliever.
"You know, I'm still kind of breathing it in," Belisle said. "To be back with the team that was such an emotional team last year and how we ended up and the great run, it's so fun."
Belisle, who served as closer for the Twins down the stretch last season, took advantage of an opt-out clause in his contract with the Indians in order to pursue an opportunity elsewhere. That chance came in the form of a guaranteed deal from Minnesota late Monday.
"He enjoyed his year here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about the return of Belisle. "We obviously went a different direction over the winter, the way it played out, but we thought it was a good fit at this time, and he was available, so we made the move."
On the heels of a career-best season in 2017, Belisle signed a Minor League contract with the Indians in the offseason, but he struggled to replicate last year's success.
Belisle started the season with the Indians, but allowed six runs on nine hits in 10 2/3 innings (5.06 ERA) and blew a save before the club designated him for assignment in early May. He went unclaimed and was sent down to Triple-A Columbus, where he recorded 11 strikeouts with a 4.22 ERA in 10 2/3 innings.
"What I don't want to get lost in the shuffle is that, watching him pitch down there, the people who have seen him say he's the same guy," Molitor said. "We're looking for him to supplement our bullpen first and foremost, but we all know the presence that he can bring can be influential as well."
Belisle pitched in 62 games for the Twins in 2017, with nine saves after closer Brandon Kintzler was traded to Washington at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. In 60 1/3 innings, Belisle posted a 4.03 ERA and struck out 54.
A veteran leader who was widely liked by his Minnesota teammates, Belisle said he was greeted to a hero's welcome when he entered the Twins' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon.
"There's still the vast amount of core guys here, so it was really fun to come in the clubhouse and see everyone," said Belisle, who was available to pitch out of the bullpen Tuesday.
The past 24 hours have been a roller coaster of emotion for Belisle, who packed his pickup truck full of his belongings and traveled from Columbus, Ohio, and arrived in Detroit late Monday.
The problem? He'll need to leave his truck and most of his possessions behind in Detroit when he travels with the team to Cleveland on Thursday night.
"I've been [staying] at an Extended Stay America," Belisle said of his living situation the past two months. "One part of it's great, when you have a transition like that, it makes you appreciative for what you had. It makes you look at what's in front of you. It also simplifies your life.
"Everything I need is in that pickup, but I can [travel]. I didn't have any excess and I didn't want more excess."
To make room for Belisle, the Twins designated utility infielder Gregorio Petit for assignment. A career .253 hitter, Petit batted .306 with two RBIs in 26 at-bats in 12 games with Minnesota.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
"We'll see what happens with [Petit's] situation as far as being [designated for assignment], if somehow we can keep him," Molitor said. "It'd be great if he landed with a Major League team. But if he doesn't, it'd be an option to stay with us.
"It would be good for us if he decides to go that route. But we'll know in the next couple of days."
James Schmehl is a contributor to MLB.com based in Detroit.