Rogers gleaning wisdom from vets, legend

'Pumped' to be part of strong 'pen, Twins lefty soaks up advice from Belisle, Blyleven

January 25th, 2018

FARGO, N.D. -- is one of the quieter players on the Twins, but it's his listening skills that stand out.
Coming off back-to-back strong years as the club's primary left-handed setup reliever, Rogers is never shy about asking for advice from teammates, or even former players, which made it no surprise he was all ears when Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven offered Rogers and fellow reliever pitching tips while on the annual Twins Winter Caravan on Wednesday.
While at lunch in Breckenridge, Minn., and on the bus ride to Fargo, N.D., Blyleven helped explain the benefits of pitching inside, while giving pointers on how he was able to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate.

But Rogers, 27, said it was veteran Matt Belisle who gave him what he believes is the best advice he's received since reaching the Majors, as Belisle explained to Rogers how to mentally prepare himself to be a better reliever.
"He was career-changing for me," Rogers said. "I tried to soak in everything he said because he has such an enthusiasm for the game. He said to wake up thinking you're going to pitch, instead of wondering. If you structure your day that way, the unknown of when that phone is going to ring and the quickness of it goes away because you're already prepared."
Rogers, a former starter in the Minors, said he's become comfortable with the routine of being a reliever with the help of his teammates and his twin brother, Tyler, a reliever in the Giants organization. It's shown since Rogers reached the Majors as a reliever in 2016, as he's posted a 3.54 ERA with 113 strikeouts and 37 walks in 117 innings, including a 3.07 ERA and a bullpen-leading seven wins last year.

Rogers, nicknamed "Bones" by his teammates because of his skinny, 6-foot-3 frame, led the Twins with 69 appearances last year and was second on the team with 126 appearances over the past two seasons, trailing only (129).
"I take pride in being able to go every day," Rogers said. "I think it's one of my strengths."
Rogers said he still has much to improve, including listening to Blyleven's advice about throwing inside more, especially to right-handed hitters. Rogers had an ERA below 2.00 in mid-July last season, but gave up runs in six consecutive outings that month and said he got away from what he does best.
"I want to try to minimize those down periods," Rogers said. "That one I had after the All-Star break hung on a little longer than I wanted it to. You're not going to be perfect, but I learned a lot about myself. I think the more experience I get, the more I'm able to identify what the problem is."

Rogers figures to pitch a bit earlier in games this season after the club added closer , left-hander Zach Duke and right-hander via free agency this offseason. Rogers said he's excited about the new-look bullpen, which figures to be a strength for the club.
"I'm pumped," Rogers said. "You look at how playoff games go, bullpens are a huge part of that. The Yankees and Indians had stacked bullpens, but I think we're one of those bullpens now. And I'll make sure to pick those veterans' brains, just like I did with Belisle."