Hildenberger was placed on the 7-day injured list Monday with a right flexor mass strain. This explains why Hildenberger hasn't pitched for Triple-A Rochester since June 8. Prior to suffering the injury, the right-hander compiled an 8.44 ERA, 1.88 WHIP and 9:3 K:BB in 10.2 innings with the Red Wings.
Hildenberger was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, Brandon Warne of ZoneCoverage.com reports. This move comes after Hildenberger allowed three runs on three hits while recording just one out in Wednesday's game against the Angels, raising his ERA to 8.36 on the season. The right-hander should rejoin the big-league bullpen once he smooths some kinks out in the minors. A corresponding roster move is expected to be announced prior to Thursday's series opener in Seattle.
Hildenberger struck out the final two batters of Sunday's game against Detroit to pick up his first save of the season. Hildenberger entered the contest with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a two-run ballgame, but he fanned John Hicks and Grayson Greiner to secure the victory. Blake Parker has been the top option for Minnesota in save situations so far this season and began the frame, but he worked his way into a mess, giving Hildenberger a chance to slam the door. He's now tossed 5.1 scoreless frames in eight appearances to begin the year.
Hildenberger threw a scoreless seventh inning in Saturday's win over Detroit. He's thrown 4.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and one walk in seven appearances this season. Hildenberger has settled into a setup role and doesn't appear to be among the pitchers used to close games. However, Minnesota's bullpen remains a fluid situation, so he could get save chances at some point.
Twins manager Rocco Baldeli hasn't indicated his plans at closer and could use a bullpen-by-committee, and Hildenberger could be part of the mix after saving seven games last season, MLB.com reports. Hildenberger has allowed two runs in five spring innings with five strikeouts and one walk. Trevor May is likely the leading candidate to close games along with Blake Paker, but Hildenberger could be in the mix along with Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers and Fernando Romero. However, Hildenberger could also be a candidate to be sent to Triple-A to begin the season since he has a minor-league option remaining.