MINNEAPOLIS - Taylor Rogers was back in his native Colorado on Monday preparing to enjoy a couple days off before finishing the grind of a 162-game baseball season when his phone rang.
It was Minnesota Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli. Rogers had been named an American League All-Star after Yusei Kikuchi, a Seattle Mariners’ left-handed reliever who had just been removed from Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 list, had been ruled out for the game. Rogers was in.
It had been whirlwind 24 hours for Rogers. On Sunday, he gave up a go-ahead grand slam to Detroit Tigers’ catcher Jake Rogers. In the first 89 games of the season, in which the Twins are off to a disappointing 39-50 start, Rogers has eight saves, a 3.35 earned run average and 54 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.
Rogers headed straight to Coors Field after learning the news and was able to get to the stadium in time to watch Monday night’s Home Run Derby from the field. He joined fellow Twins’ teammate, designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
Rogers’ future with the Twins remains to be seen. He’s one of the better left-handed relievers in the American League, and could be a top target in a trade for playoff contending teams. The MLB trade deadline is at the end of the month, and the Twins are 15 games out of the AL Central lead, and 11.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with 73 games to play. They’ve come back from further deficits, but the clock will be ticking starting Friday night.
Cruz was named to the AL All-Star team as a designated hitter, and has been the unquestioned leader of the Twins’ clubhouse since his arrival to Minnesota. This season, he’s played in 78 of 89 games and is hitting .304, leading the team with 18 homers and 46 RBI.
Cruz has been one of the few constants as the team has battled injuries and inconsistent play through the first 89 games of the season. Midway through his third season with the Twins, Cruz is hitting .307 with 75 homers, 43 doubles and 187 RBI in 251 games.
Cruz will likely come off the bench at some point in the All-Star Game Tuesday night, and Rogers will likely make an appearance in relief.
The Twins return from the All-Star break with a three-game series at Detroit starting Friday, after sweeping the Tigers in a four-game set to enter the break.