Twins' Duffey still waiting for his changeup tutorial from new teammate Rodney
DUNEDIN, Fla.-- Back at TwinsFest in mid-January, Fernando Rodney said he would probably take Tyler Duffey out to dinner and talk to him about his vaunted changeup as compensation for taking over uniform No. 56.
Duffey, who had worn that number for the Twins since 2015 and now wears No. 21, said that dinner has yet to happen.
"It's early," he said. "We've got time. I'm not going anywhere."
Nor, unfortunately, has Rodney had a chance to assist Duffey with his changeup, which was the primary reason he lost his spot in the rotation after making 36 starts in 2015-16.
"We're not in the same (work) group actually so we haven't even really gotten to talk that much," Duffey said. "He's a great guy. I love being around him. I can hear him from afar. He's always entertaining."
In the meantime, Duffey waits.
"I'm not going to do anything to cause controversy," he said. "You don't want to ruffle anybody's feathers before you even know them. I'm here to play baseball. I'm going to do my part in trying to make this team and let that work itself out."
There is no guidebook for what is appropriate in such transactions, but players and coaches have been known to receive a new set of golf clubs (or something similar) for surrendering their uniform number. In Rodney's case, the situation is a bit murkier as the Twins gave him no indication any bartering would be necessary after he signed a one-year deal as a free agent in December.
"They asked me, 'Do you want to stick with '56' or you want to change?' Rodney said. "They told me it was available if I wanted it and said it's not going to be a big deal. That's why I asked."
Aside from the 14 games he pitched for the Chicago Cubs in 2015, when he chose to wear No. 57 despite Hector Rondon's offer to give up No. 56, Rodney has worn the same number throughout a big-league journey that began in 2002.
"I say I'm the lucky guy; all the different teams I go to, it's available," Rodney said. "It's just special for me because I started my career being '56.' It feels good. It feels comfortable. It's not too heavy. If you have a chance to finish your career with that number, that's perfect. "
Eddie Rosario's 27-homer season has been rewarded with a $50,000 raise for the pre-arbitration left fielder, according to a person with direct knowledge.
Rosario, who just missed the Super Two cutoff by just three days of service time, will make $602,500 this season instead of the $3.5 million that had been projected for him had he qualified for arbitration. The major league minimum salary has increased from $535,000 to $545,000 under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Fellow Twins outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler still hadn't agreed to 2018 contracts as of Saturday, according to people with direct knowledge. Both young stars figured to receive similar bumps after making $535,000 and $547,500 last season, respectively, but the renewal date isn't until March 13.
Relievers Taylor Rogers ($565,000), Tyler Duffey ($557,500), Trevor Hildenberger ($555,000) and Alan Busenitz ($550,000) are slated for modest raises as well under the Twins' pre-arbitration formula. Rogers, who posted a 3.07 earned-run average in a team-leading 69 appearances last season, made $542,500 as the top left-hander out of the Twins' bullpen.
Phil Hughes allowed two homers and four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings on a windy day against Toronto, but he was encouraged by improvements in his slider, which he threw eight to 10 times.
Hughes, coming off his second straight thoracic-outlet syndrome procedure, topped out at 90 mph and got just one swinging strike in his 47 pitches. That came on a 2-2 slider to Kendrys Morales for a second-inning strikeout.
"I'm just trying to make sure I'm healthy and improving and showing good stuff on the mound," Hughes said. "I'm not thinking about anything arm-related. We have enough to worry about, and baseball's a pretty hard game without having to take your health and everything else into account."
Backup catcher Mitch Garver (right knee) continued to improve and is tentatively scheduled to return to action on Tuesday, March 6, at home. ... Infielder Nick Gordon (right wrist) and first baseman Brock Stassi (back spasms) are slated to return on Sunday. Gordon has been out since Tuesday. ... Lefty prospect Lewis Thorpe failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the eighth inning, walking three and allowing a pair of hits to earn the 13-8 loss to the Blue Jays.