Patrick Reusse
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There were two portions of the major league draft in the 1970s. The most important occurred in June, and there was also the January phase that was heavy with junior college players.

Jesse Orosco was a lefthanded pitcher from Santa Barbara City College in California. The Twins took him in the second round of the 1978 January phase and scout Jesse Flores signed him.

Orosco pitched 20 games of relief with a 1.13 ERA for the rookie league team in Elizabethton, Tenn. At the 1978 winter meetings, owner Calvin Griffith listened to manager Gene Mauch's plea and traded for Jerry Koosman, the Mets lefthanded starter.

Two months later, Orosco became the second young pitcher in the deal to go to the Mets. The date for that was Feb. 7, 1979.

The Twins had been reluctant to trade Orosco. And they were able to reacquire him, although the date for that was Aug. 31, 2003.

Orosco was 46 when the Twins sent righthander Juan Padilla to the Yankees for him. He had pitched for eight teams in 1,244 regular-season games before arriving in Minnesota.

The Twins had started 2003 as defending AL Central champs, with Eddie Guardado (AL saves leader in '02), J.C. Romero (81 games, 1.89 ERA in '02) and budding star Johan Santana as lefthanders in the bullpen.

How was it with a month remaining the Twins felt the need to bring the most-used pitcher in major league history to shore up their lefthanded relief?

It went like this: Romero's ERA was at 5.00, Santana had moved into the rotation mid-season and the obsessive need to have lefty relievers to face lefty hitters was shared by all contending teams.

Orosco wound up pitching in eight games and getting 13 outs for the Twins. He was not used in the postseason and concluded his career with what remains a record 1,252 appearances.

The idea of having 11 pitchers (rather than 10) was gaining momentum at that time. Two decades later, the controversy is teams are being restricted by new rule to have 13 pitchers, when most managers would prefer 14.

How can a manager and his pitching coach be expected to operate with a mere eight-pitcher bullpen?

That's quite a different paranoia than the one that no longer seems to exist: the need for multiple lefties in a bullpen.

The Twins are in the second period of this season with Caleb Thielbar as the only lefty reliever. Asked Friday how this impacts a manager, Rocco Baldelli said:

"It's better than having no lefthanders."

Baldelli's playing career ended in 2010, when if it wasn't the official closer trying to finish a game, it was nearly automatic to bring in a lefty to face a lefty.

Now, that isn't happening for two reasons: A) the pitcher is required to face three hitters unless the pitcher completes an inning; and B) a closer look at "reverse splits," which means righthanded pitchers handle lefties better than righties.

"There are a lot of righthanders that get out lefthanders now," Baldelli said. "There are more reverse splits for lefthanded hitters than I've seen in my life."

The cutter has changed the righty-lefty game to a degree, Baldelli said.

"The cutter and the curve," said Derek Falvey, the Twins baseball boss. "There are righties neutralizing lefthanders with those pitches."

Those of us trained in baseball traditions bellowed louder at the end of spring training over the Taylor Rogers trade because he was lefthanded.

"We knew we were giving up a good pitcher in Taylor," Falvey said. "We didn't want to lose him, but the fact we had a chance to add to our starter group, in addition to getting a reliever, made sense for us. The starter, Chris Paddack, getting hurt was unfortunate for us.

"But Taylor being lefthanded … that didn't figure into the trade for us."

Glen Perkins, three-time All-Star lefthanded closer for the Twins, was working for BSN on Friday. He was asked about this change in thinking over the need for lefty-vs.-lefty.

"You know what? I had reverse splits quite often,'' he said. "I got out righties better than lefties in a few seasons. One reason … I was more comfortable throwing my slider to righthanders.

"And the righthanded pinch hitter — I always said, 'Bring 'em on.' What's the stat? Pinch hitters hit 80, 100 points less.

"Left-left used to be automatic. Now, the splits are more important. And I'd say it makes sense."