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The Twins, amid their rough start to the season, made a change to their starting rotation Monday.

Louie Varland was demoted to Class AAA St. Paul one day after the shortest start of his career. Varland owned a 9.18 ERA through four outings, the second-highest ERA in the American League among pitchers who have thrown at least 15 innings this season.

The Twins promoted reliever Ronny Henriquez to give themselves an extra option in the bullpen until they need to fill the vacant spot in the rotation. Simeon Woods Richardson, who made a spot start in a doubleheader April 13, is lined up to start Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Varland yielded four runs in 2⅔ innings during Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, issuing four walks and hitting a batter. He threw only 35 of his 74 pitches for strikes, a concerning lack of command for a pitcher who is known as a reliable strike thrower.

"With everything that had been going on, I don't think it was a hard decision right now," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think it was the right decision, and that was clear for him and for us. It gives him an opportunity to focus on some things and get better without having to only worry about the results of what he's doing."

Twins pitching coaches encouraged Varland to throw his sinker more often this year, a pitch he developed in the minor leagues last season. He hasn't looked comfortable with it, throwing it only 12 times, according to Statcast, without success.

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Varland, a 26-year-old North St. Paul native, will continue to start at St. Paul.

"He took [the demotion] hard because he cares and he wants to be here," Baldelli said. "He wants to make people proud, and he wants to do great things, frankly. There will be a lot of great things coming his way over time. I think he knows that. I don't know if he's feeling it in the moment, but I'm feeling it."

The Twins don't have much proven starting depth at Class AAA behind Varland. Brent Headrick is on the 60-day injured list because of a forearm strain. Pitching prospect David Festa recorded a 1.46 ERA through four starts, but he has walked 11 batters in 12⅓ innings and hasn't topped four innings in an outing.

Baldelli said there were no current plans to stretch one of the Twins relievers into the rotation, but Cole Sands has experience as a starter.

"We have to be open to a lot of different things right now," Baldelli said. "We'll see what that means, and hopefully we're not stressed anytime in the very near future. We can always turn back to Lou sooner than later. I'd like for him to get some work in first and make some adjustments, relax a little bit out there on the mound before we turn to him, but he is still there and available."

Henriquez hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2022. To add him to the 40-man roster, Daniel Duarte was transferred to the 60-day IL.

Kepler returns

The Twins activated right fielder Max Kepler from the 10-day injured list before Monday's game, and third-string catcher Jair Camargo was optioned to St. Paul.

Kepler said he stopped feeling pain in his knee about halfway through his IL stint. He played three games on a rehabilitation assignment before rejoining the club.

"I have a piece of bone floating in my knee," said Kepler, who fouled a ball off his right knee on Opening Day. He was told the floating bone occurred from a previous injury. "I've never been aware of me chipping my [knee]cap. I didn't think it was something to just jump back into with, so I wanted to see if it felt good, and I feel much better now."