Mike Berardino / St. Paul Pioneer Press
Major League Baseball has a mound-visit counter for the first time this season, but in the South Carolina home of Rosa and Herbert Alston Sr. that has been mostly unnecessary. Each time first-year Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston bounds out of the dugout for a quick word with one of his charges, his septuagenarian parents lean forward for a better view of their flat-screen television.
DETROIT — Matt Belisle's career took a hiatus when the Cleveland Indians released the veteran reliever May 6. So did his life. Belisle cleared waivers and eventually moved in to an Extended Stay America hotel in Columbus, Ohio, where he made nine appearances for Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate before the Twins re-signed the 38-year-old Tuesday, June 12, for an encore. To make room on the roster, Minnesota designated utility infielder Gregorio Petit for release or assignment.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—Say this for Brusdar Graterol, flame-throwing right-hander at Class A Cedar Rapids: The young man knows how to choose a role model. "My favorite pitcher is Jose Berrios," Graterol said recently in rapidly improving English. "I like the way he throws. I like how he throws his breaking ball. Oh, my God, it's impressive."
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro hobbled into the home clubhouse on crutches again Saturday morning, June 9, a bulky black brace on his surgically repaired right knee. A little more than three weeks out from May 15 surgery to repair torn meniscus, Castro plans to stick around as much as possible during his rehab. He won't sit in the dugout until he's off crutches in late June, but there has even been talk about having him go on select road trips in an effort to help the game-planning process for pitchers and catchers.
MINNEAPOLIS—After making two selections on Monday, there was a 65-pick overnight wait for Twins scouting director Sean Johnson before he could again put his expansive team's reconnaissance to good use. "It felt like 1,000 picks," Johnson said Tuesday, June 5, after completing Day 2 of the draft. "It felt like we were in the penalty box for a while, so when we got back out it was nice."
For the first time in seven years, the Twins took a college position player with their first-round draft pick. Oregon State outfielder Trevor Larnach got the nod Monday night at No. 20 overall, 16 picks after Beavers teammate Nick Madrigal. It was the Twins' lowest first-round pick since 2011, when they took North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael 30th overall.
MINNEAPOLIS — If the Twins didn't tip their hand before taking Royce Lewis with the first overall pick last June, you'd better believe the leaks will be at a minimum before they select 20th in the first round on Monday night, June 4. "I am quite proud of the way our room handled itself last year in terms of not much getting out right up until the end," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "I will continue to be proud of that. It matters when you're selecting these guys. Our guys are really good about that."
MINNEAPOLIS — A year ago, the Twins took controversial Oregon State left-hander Luke Heimlich off their draft board, along with rest of Major League Baseball, after news broke days before the draft that the pitcher had signed a plea agreement in 2012 as a teen in which he admitted to one count of sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece. Saturday, June 1, asked specifically about Heimlich, who has since denied harming his niece while posting another standout season for Oregon State, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey offered no clarity.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was already scheduled to return to New York City on June 4 for his four-month checkup with hand surgeon Dr. Charles Melone. The difference is that the 35-year-old right-hander will do so having just had his rehab assignment paused after two disappointing outings in which his fastball failed to crack 90 mph.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The final straw, Byron Buxton said upon his return to the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left big toe, probably came in the ninth inning of an eventual 2-1, 14-inning loss Tuesday night, May 29. Sent in to pinch run after Mitch Garver's leadoff single against Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, Buxton let two pitches go by without attempting to steal second base. Ehire Adrianza bunted Buxton over on the third pitch, but the lost out proved just as instructive as it was costly.