When Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson got to Progressive Field on Tuesday, he said that Alex Colomé immediately came to find him before he could seek out the veteran reliever himself.
"He was ready to go to work and had a list of stuff that he wanted to talk about and work on," Johnson said.
Both Johnson and manager Rocco Baldelli say that Colomé's stuff still looks good and that his bullpen sessions remain very encouraging -- but that it hasn't translated to the field this season. Baldelli said the Twins will move Colomé into lower-leverage roles for the time being until he regains his footing on the mound.
"We could see him earlier in the game, potentially maybe when we're up, but maybe when we're down as well," Baldelli said. "I think getting him out there and letting him get comfortable and find himself right now is important, and that's what we're going to do."
Colomé's first such outing didn't go well. He entered with the Twins down by a run in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 7-4 loss and allowed a hit batsman and three walks -- including one with the bases loaded. He did strike out two batters but was charged with two runs, raising his season ERA to 8.31.
Colomé had taken his third loss of the season when he allowed a two-run walk-off home run to Jordan Luplow in the 10th inning of Monday's 5-3 loss to Cleveland. Though the Twins signed him this offseason to pitch in late, high-leverage situations alongside Taylor Rogers, the 32-year-old has been part of six Minnesota losses this season through Tuesday.
Colomé blew a save opportunity on Opening Day with three runs allowed against the Brewers, permitted the Mariners to take a pair of late leads on April 10 and 11, and allowed the A's to come from behind for a 13-12 victory in the 10th inning last Wednesday.
But Baldelli noted that the Twins have continued to tweak Colomé's signature cutter, and Johnson expressed excitement about how his pitches looked in Tuesday's bullpen session.
"I think his mind is back to being really clear, and his stuff looked really good today in the 'pen," Johnson said. "I think we're moving back into a good place with him. You wish it happens overnight, but it just doesn't. It takes time."
Still, the Twins don't see a nine-game sample size as indicative of Colomé's true talent level, instead pointing to his track record of a 2.95 ERA and 138 saves across eight seasons with the Rays, Mariners and White Sox. They're confident he'll turn it around -- and are making sure he knows that by putting him in situations where he can more comfortably work through these issues.
"The message is real clear: 'You're really good. You're Alex Colomé. You're here to get good hitters out. You're going to get good hitters out,'" Johnson said. "He's just going through a rough patch. It's always tough when you're not playing well and the guy goes through a rough patch on top of that. He's fine. He's going to be fine.
They will begin workouts at the Twins' alternate training site at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minn., where they will return to physical conditioning and see some pitching before the Twins' upcoming homestand slated to begin on Friday.
Both players had been placed on the COVID injured list last Tuesday, before the Twins returned to action following several postponed games and a doubleheader in Oakland.
Andrelton Simmons was activated from the COVID-19 IL on Monday. JT Riddle remains sidelined due to contact tracing concerns.
Sanó to begin baseball activities soon
Miguel Sanó is running at "fairly close to 100 percent" as part of his recovery from a mild right hamstring strain, Baldelli said. Once he's running without issue, the Twins will ramp the first baseman up to baseball activities at full speed before he progresses to fielding and hitting.
Sanó was hitting .111/.310/.244 with two homers and 13 walks when he went on the IL last Friday. He's eligible to return on Saturday.
"Would love to see him get out there on the field and get a bunch of swings and see some pitching as well before we bring him back," Baldelli said. "His progression, physically, has gone well."
Additional home tickets to go on sale May 7
The Twins announced Tuesday that single-game tickets at Target Field for games from May 14-30 will go on sale to the general public at noon CT on May 7 at twinsbaseball.com and through the MLB Ballpark app.
Capacity for Twins home games will remain at 10,000 fans according to state guidelines established by Minnesota governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health. Tickets will continue to be sold in pods of two to four contiguous seats, with a limit of one ticket purchaser per pod.
Season-ticket holders will receive priority access, and any fans who have already purchased single-game tickets to home games from April 8 to May 6 will also be given access to a pre-sale.