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Berrios works in relief to prep for WC Game

Gibson also makes himself available for Tuesday bullpen role
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a unique feeling for right-hander Jose Berrios, as the bullpen doors swung open and he headed toward the mound at Target Field in the top of the fifth inning on Friday.

Berrios made his first relief appearance as a Major Leaguer during the Twins' 6-3 victory over the Tigers in the series opener. Berrios faced a total of six batters, logging four outs and allowing two hits in his relief debut.

Full Game Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a unique feeling for right-hander Jose Berrios, as the bullpen doors swung open and he headed toward the mound at Target Field in the top of the fifth inning on Friday.

Berrios made his first relief appearance as a Major Leaguer during the Twins' 6-3 victory over the Tigers in the series opener. Berrios faced a total of six batters, logging four outs and allowing two hits in his relief debut.

Full Game Coverage

"It was different, but fun. It's baseball, so that's fun," Berrios said. "It was a little different to run from the bullpen in, but it was a lot of fun."

It's also a scenario that Berrios could find himself in again the next time he takes the mound.

Minnesota manager Paul Molitor wanted to test it out before he possibly employs Berrios as a reliever in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday. The Twins plan to start right-hander Ervin Santana in that game, but Berrios is expected to serve as a viable option out of the bullpen.

"He'll probably tell you that it felt a little strange," Molitor said. "I think he settled in fairly well, but it looked mostly crisp. I don't know how much difference one outing in that setting will help him if we turn to him at some point down the road, Tuesday in particular."

Berrios, who had started his previous 39 big league outings, retired the first two Detroit batters he faced. He got Jeimer Candelario to swing through 96-mph fastball for his lone strikeout, allowed a single, retired two more hitters and was lifted after allowing a one-out single in the sixth. Of his 29 pitches, including 21 strikes, Berrios threw a total of 18 fastballs. According to Statcast™, Berrios threw as hard as 96.5 mph.

More importantly, though, Berrios was able to go through the process of warming up to pitch in relief and appears ready to answer the call if the opportunity presents itself.

"I feel like everybody in this clubhouse needs to be ready for that day," Berrios said. "Prepare physically and mentally for that day, we understand that as a team. It's going to be a big game for us, and we need to be ready for it."

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, who started on Friday, said afterward he would be available for a similar role, if needed, despite not pitching as a reliever since he was a freshman in college. Gibson allowed three runs on seven hits across 3 2/3 innings in Friday's start against Detroit, which would keep him on schedule to pitch Tuesday.

Both starters indicated that they also would be more than happy to not have their services needed.

"I'll be ready," Berrios said. "Hopefully that doesn't happen and [Santana] is able to throw all nine innings, but if not, I'm ready."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minnesota.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson