BALTIMORE – The last time Fernando Romero pitched in a major league game, it was to make an emergency start for a shorthanded staff last July, and he was immediately sent back to the minors.
Romero will be in a Twins uniform again on Saturday, but this time he knows ahead of time that it’s only a one-day cameo. Baseball rules allow teams to add a 26th player to the second-game roster when they play two games in one day, and the Twins chose Romero.
“He’s looked good, and with the situation we’re in right now, he fits really well,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s a guy that we think very highly of.”
Romero, who was converted to a relief pitcher this spring, has pitched four times for Class AAA Rochester this season, and allowed runs — albeit four of them, on three home runs — in only one. He threw two perfect innings in his last outing, Tuesday against Syracuse, and has struck out 11 batters in 8⅓ total innings.
“He’s made some nice adjustments,” said Baldelli, who expects Romero to be available “anywhere from a batter to two, three innings” in Saturday’s second game. “He’s throwing the ball well in some spurts, and we’re going to look to bottle him up.”
Heavy rains were pounding Camden Yards around 3 p.m. Friday when the Orioles decided to postpone their game with the Twins. Within 20 minutes of that decision, the rains stopped and didn’t start again for quite a while. The scheduled 7 p.m. start time came and went with no precipitation; not until 9 p.m. did rain, much lighter than the afternoon’s deluge, resume falling.
Such is the luck of the Twins, who have now spent seven days of the 22-day-old baseball season without playing a game, by far the most in the major leagues.
Regardless, the game will be made up on Saturday, starting at 3:05 p.m. Central time, with the second game following 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first one. Jose Berrios, who was to start Friday’s game, will instead pitch the first game a day later, and Martin Perez will start the late game as scheduled.
The Twins were grateful that the Orioles chose to play the games back to back, rather than schedule the makeup game for 1 p.m., as was their right. Split doubleheaders allow the home team to sell tickets to both games separately, but they cause players and stadium employees to spend up to 15 hours at the ballpark.
“I know there is probably more money to be made for teams. But it’s much, much more tough. It’s tougher on the bodies,” Baldelli said. “There’s nothing easy about a grown man playing a doubleheader. If you’re playing both games, it’s difficult. There’s no recovery going on in between. … It is a long day, a tough day in some ways.”
Seeking a starter
Friday’s rainout, and the decision to add a reliever rather than a starter as the 26th man on Saturday, means the Twins probably will need another starting pitcher next Wednesday in Houston.
It’s possible that they could try to get by with a “bullpen” game, perhaps using Adalberto Mejia or Tyler Duffey for the first three or four innings, since Thursday is an off day that would give them time to rest. But using the bullpen heavily against the Astros might make that plan unfeasible.
Baldelli and his coaches met with General Manager Thad Levine after Friday’s game was called off, but the manager said no decision can be made yet.
“It’s way too early to say,” Baldelli said. “Truthfully, there are a couple of different directions we could go, [but] there’s way too much up in the air. There’s so much that could happen between now and the beginning of next week, I couldn’t even count them.”