Twins righthander Tyler Duffey has had little problem transitioning to a bullpen role after making 70 of his 88 minor league appearances and all 36 of his major league appearances as a starter.
"There's no reason not to," said Duffey, who was a reliever at Rice for three years before the Twins drafted him in 2012. "Unless you don't want to be here."
Good point. Duffey didn't pout for long after being moved to the bullpen near the end of spring training. And he has been a revelation during the early weeks of the season with 8 ⅔ scoreless innings, including 2 ⅔ on Monday against the Indians.
"He's had some different situations that he has a chance to come in and pitch, and it has either given us a chance or helped us win a game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
What's more notable than his work as a reliever is how Duffey is taking steps to hone his craft.
After talking with Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven last season, Duffey stands on the third base side of the pitching rubber against righthanded hitters and on the first base side of the rubber when facing lefthanded hitters.
"Against the righties, it gives me a little better angle," he said, "especially on the inside fastball, with the sinker and breaking ball."
Duffey used to throw sinkers down and in on righthanded hitters, but looking at statistics supplied by director of baseball research Jack Goin has encouraged him to look at other options.
"I think some of those guys have tried to dig in a little deeper," Molitor said of Duffey and others studying the numbers. "I think he was a guy who really liked that ball down and in to the righties, and he's learned how to back-door that ball a little bit and it's helped him get ahead."
Add it up and Duffey looks like a different pitcher in a new role.
"He's just pitching very confidently right now," Molitor said.
Buxton back in
Outfielder Byron Buxton returned to the lineup on Tuesday after a night off but went 0-for-4, dropping his batting average to .085. He spent Monday working on his swing.
"The work is at a higher degree than when he is playing because it gives him time to take extra swings and do some things that he is trying to find a way to clean up," Molitor said before the game. "It's challenging to know the right days to back him off and put him back in. I want to see him get going a little bit, just for his confidence, and certainly will help our team.
"One of these days it is going to happen. Just trying to be patient and put him in the right position."
Brantley has a blast
Michael Brantley has every right to dread coming to Minnesota.
In 2011, the Indians left fielder played both games of a doubleheader on July 18 on a hot afternoon (game-time temperature was 90 degrees), then missed the next three games because of heat exhaustion.
In 2015, he dived after a drive by Aaron Hicks, tore the labrum in his right shoulder and missed most of last season as Cleveland went on to the World Series.
"You remember all that?" Brantley said. "I have had some really good times here and some not-so-good times. At the same time, I love coming here. It's a beautiful ballpark here. Great fans. It's always a pleasure to come to Minnesota."
Now healthy after playing in only 11 games last season, Brantley is getting his licks in. He hit a home run on Monday and added an RBI double in his first at-bat Tuesday. He finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored.