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Morin's changeup 'a conversation starter'

@dohyoungpark
May 20, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Before he was given an extended opportunity in the Major Leagues by the Twins this season, reliever Mike Morin's big league journey began with the Angels as a 23-year-old in 2014, when he remembers discussing his bread-and-butter changeup with then-Angels closer Huston Street, who had been around legendary

ANAHEIM -- Before he was given an extended opportunity in the Major Leagues by the Twins this season, reliever Mike Morin's big league journey began with the Angels as a 23-year-old in 2014, when he remembers discussing his bread-and-butter changeup with then-Angels closer Huston Street, who had been around legendary changeup-thrower Trevor Hoffman in San Diego.

It's a pitch that teammate Kyle Gibson calls a "Bugs Bunny" changeup and one that has been the focus of Morin's career since he first integrated it into his repertoire after high school.

"It's a weird pitch," Morin said. "It's a good one, but it's definitely a conversation starter, and people were always naturally drawn to it because it is so different. It's like a Ryne Harper 66-mph curveball. It's just not something you see traditionally at this level."

With an average speed of 72.9 mph, Morin's changeup is the third-slowest in baseball this season, ahead of only the changeups of Anibal Sanchez and Alex Claudio. Morin couples it with a fastball that has averaged 91.4 mph, creating an unusually jarring velocity differential that has helped him pitch to a 1.29 ERA in 2019, with only one run allowed in seven innings since his contract was selected from Triple-A Rochester on May 2.

Though the 28-year-old Morin had pitched in 25 Major League games over the last three seasons with the Angels, Royals, Mariners and Twins, he had made 177 appearances with the Angels over the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career, which he said helped him adjust to some of the higher-leverage situations that he has seen over the last week with the Twins.

That included his first Twins save last Wednesday against the Angels, when he entered the ninth inning with a two-run lead over his former team and induced a strikeout and a game-ending groundout by Shohei Ohtani to preserve the Twins' victory.

"Definitely a confidence boost. Any time you come to a team, it's one thing to be on the team, and it's another thing to help the team win," Morin said. "I think one good thing is I've been able to be put in those situations, maybe not this year, but in years past. And so you kind of just realize that you have a job to do and that job doesn't change just because the situation changes."

Parker makes return to Anaheim

Blake Parker says that he was at the wedding of former Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs when he was non-tendered by the Angels this offseason, which gave him a chance to say goodbye to his old teammates before his departure from Anaheim.

"All of my boys were there," said Parker, who is now a member of the Twins. "It was like one last hurrah. I still keep in touch. I talked with some of the guys before the last series, catching up, and it was good to see them."

Parker, who spent two seasons with the Angels from 2017-18, when he had a 2.90 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings and 22 saves, was able to meet his friends on the Angels last week when they visited Target Field, but he was happy to visit Southern California again to give back to some fans in Anaheim with whom he had grown close in his time with the Angels.

"I actually got some of them field passes," Parker said. "It's good to do that and it's good to be back in nicer weather, obviously."

Arraez back in starting lineup

Luis Arraez was in the Twins' starting lineup for the second straight game on Monday after his 1-for-2 performance with a pair of walks in his first career start during Sunday's series finale against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Manager Rocco Baldelli said that he has been impressed early by the 22-year-old infielder not just for his professional at-bats and defensive versatility around the infield, but also for the energy that he has brought to the Twins' clubhouse.

"Just more of what we've seen from him from the beginning," Baldelli said. "He handles everything very well, especially for such a young guy. He's not just competent but a quality defender at a number of different positions in the infield. His energy is great, keeps everything going on around him."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.