DETROIT -- The Twins have 14 players on the active 25-man roster who were also there on Opening Day. One of the most recent subtractions was closer Fernando Rodney, who was traded to the A's on Thursday evening.
The shrink hasn't come as a surprise for a team that entered Friday 11 games back of the AL Central-leading Indians, but it does leave questions as the Twins begin a three-game series against the Tigers in Detroit. Namely, how will the closer role be handled?
"I'm not going to name a closer," manager Paul Molitor said. "I think it's fairly obvious that we have a mix of pitchers out there that we can try to sort out the best we can, if we get opportunities to close games out."
Rodney recorded 25 saves for the Twins. No other pitcher on Minnesota's staff has a save to his name this season. Molitor said that he talked with the pitchers Friday and told them he will "most likely" go with the hot hand when it comes to closing situations, but he also suggested that not being a contender will allow for more looks at different pitchers.
Dealing with a staff that has more ambiguous roles now, Molitor also said that practical issues could get in the way. For example, he may have a closer in mind at the beginning of the game, but circumstances could dictate that he enters in a different situation instead. No matter what, though, expect the Twins to do some experimenting in the ninth inning.
"I would be excited if I was one of those guys, knowing that I might get a chance to do something a little different than what I've been doing," Molitor said. "But hopefully they can trust themselves and not try to do too much."
Twins add pitcher and first baseman
Not long after Rodney was traded, the Twins placed left-handed pitcher Adalberto Mejia on the 10-day disabled list with a left wrist strain sustained during his start Tuesday against the Indians. Molitor said Mejia's recent throwing session did not go well.
"He had some discomfort, especially when he started throwing flat-ground sliders," Molitor said Friday. "We sent him back to Minneapolis. We're gonna try to get that thing checked out. The symptoms are a little strange in that it's not just the forearm, he had a little discomfort in the biceps area too. We're going to have to make sure we cover all our bases there."
With two open roster spots, the Twins recalled right-handed pitcher Tyler Duffey and first baseman Christopher Austin.
Austin was traded to the Twins from the Yankees on July 30 and assigned to Triple-A Rochester. This will be his first appearance with the Twins. In nine games with the Red Wings, Austin hit .263 with three home runs.
"We know that power is a big part of his game," Molitor said. "He's trying to become a better hitter as he learns more about the game at this level. I don't want to project too far because I don't know how everything is going to work out, but there's a good chance he's going to be playing against these lefties the next couple days."
The Tigers are scheduled to throw lefties Francisco Liriano on Saturday and Matthew Boyd on Sunday. Molitor added that although Austin is listed as a first baseman/outfielder, Austin was forthright during their conversation about preferring first base to the outfield.
Duffey, who appeared in seven games earlier this season for the Twins, recently appeared in 17 games for Triple-A Rochester, going 1-3 with a 3.72 ERA, 13 walks and 30 strikeouts in 29 innings. Duffey has bounced back and forth between the Red Wings and Twins. He has a 6.35 ERA in seven Major League appearances.
"He's been kind of the same guy," Molitor said. "If anything, I think there's more confidence with the changeup against left-handed hitters. You'll see that 91, 94 [mph]. I think he's trying to elevate a little more with two strikes."