Twins recall Duffey after Busenitz optioned
NEW YORK -- After optioning right-hander Alan Busenitz to Triple-A Rochester after Monday's game, the Twins recalled right-hander Tyler Duffey from Rochester on Tuesday to take Busenitz's spot on the roster.
Duffey saw immediate action on Tuesday, allowing three runs on four hits over two innings in relief in Minnesota's 8-3 loss to the Yankees. Duffey was hurt by a solo homer from Aaron Judge and a two-run shot from Gary Sanchez in the seventh inning. Both home runs came on fastballs.
Duffey competed for a spot on the Opening Day roster in Spring Training, getting stretched out into a starting role before beginning the year at Rochester. He pitched 11 innings in the Minors without allowing an earned run, striking out 14 batters and walking one.
Duffey, who hadn't pitched in the Minors since 2016, said the change in environment helped him slow things down on the mound, which led to his success.
"Honestly, I just took a step back and slowed down once I got optioned during camp," Duffey said. "Just cleaned up things a little bit. Mechanics and pitches. Everything feels pretty good and has been working. Hopefully, it translates and I can keep doing it. The game up here speeds up. You kind of forget about it because I was up here for two years. I realized what it meant and how sped up I had actually gotten."
Duffey said that with his improved mechanics, his command was much better in Rochester and that he was able to mix in his developing changeup along with his fastball and curveball. He noted that Minor League balls are slightly different, with larger seams, but he threw with Major League balls during bullpen sessions, and threw off the mound before Tuesday's game.
He pitched in relief at Rochester but it was more of a modified starting role, as he was stretched out in all four outings. He threw 51 pitches in three scoreless innings against Columbus on Friday and is available to pitch on Tuesday.
"I feel good and fresh," he said. "Even having thrown 50, I feel really good. If it's two or three innings or one inning, it'll all be the same. Hopefully, I'll just be useful and get the outs when I need them."
The 27-year-old has made 92 appearances (36 starts) for the Twins over the past three seasons, posting a 16-16 record and a 5.29 ERA in that span. He pitched exclusively in relief last season after previously working as a starter.
"We haven't had that guy who can give us length from the bullpen to this point," manager Paul Molitor said. "We've used a lot of people over the last four games, so we needed someone who could bring us some relief."
Busenitz pitched in four games with the Twins; his ERA rose to 6.75 on Tuesday night after he was charged with two runs while recording two outs in Minnesota's 14-1 loss to the Yankees.
Buxton still out
Center fielder Byron Buxton, who is on the 10-day disabled list with migraines, was held out of the lineup at Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Tuesday for a second straight day after hitting a foul ball off his left toe on Sunday. He's going to get treatment on the foot at the club's Spring Training complex and is expected to play in extended spring training on Wednesday to get more at-bats. He's eligible to be activated on Wednesday, but Molitor said the best-case scenario has him returning on Friday, when the Twins head home for a three-game series against the Reds.
Rule 5 reliever Tyler Kinley has had a rough go through his first four appearances, allowing nine runs in 3 1/3 innings -- including a grand slam by Didi Gregorius on Monday -- for a 24.30 ERA. Molitor said they're still trying to find ways to use Kinley, who must stay on the roster or be offered back to the Marlins, but that his struggles make it tough to find the right situations.
"I don't think it's that uncommon where you try to protect the Rule 5 guys the best that you can," Molitor said. "Just keep looking for spots and hoping something builds momentum. ... The fact that we're still holding on, we must still see some light there, and we're trying to see if it can happen."