Joe Nathan might not be Minnesota's closer anymore, but that doesn't mean he won't be a setup man, at least occasionally. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, after saying Sunday that he'd like to avoid using Nathan in a pressure situation such as setting up for Matt Capps, said Monday that if the situation called for Nathan, he would not be afraid to use the former All-Star.
"We'll just do whatever we have to do to win a game," Gardenhire said. "If we get there and need to get a right-handed hitter out or something and he's our best choice to get that guy out, then just go stick him in it. He's been there before. He's not going to blow up because of the pressure."
Nathan removed himself from the closer role Saturday night after blowing his second save in as many chances over a three-day span. That prompted the Twins to make a roster move after Sunday's game, when they sent Jeff Manship down to Class AAA Rochester and recalled Jim Hoey. Gardenhire wanted Hoey in large part because Nathan's departure from the backend of the bullpen left him without a right-hander he felt comfortable using in late innings.
Hoey, a hard-throwing right-hander the Twins got from Baltimore in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy, will be used primarily in the seventh and eighth innings, Gardenhire said, as will a mix of left-handers Jose Mijares, Dusty Hughes and Glen Perkins.
Perkins pitched the eighth inning of Sunday's win over the Rays, while Mijares and Hoey got the job done in the seventh and eight during Monday's 5-3 win at Baltimore. Capps recorded saves both days.
The Twins sent Hoey to the minors in spring training with the message that he needed to work on his secondary pitches. In 6 2/3 innings (four appearances) for Rochester, Hoey gave up two runs on five hits, one of them a homer.
"In Triple-A, they can't catch up to his fastball, so (we've had) him trying to work on his off-speed pitch. If he gives up any hits, it will be on that," Gardenhire said. "But that's fine. We want him to throw it."
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