In a spring start against the Phillies on Monday, Mike Pelfrey made his final argument for joining the Twins rotation. Unfortunately for the right-hander, a few bad breaks (including Cody Asche’s two-run smash early in the afternoon) might have punched his ticket for the bullpen. The veteran has been in a strange spot this spring; while Pelfrey was fighting hard to make the starting five, he also knew there was a good chance that he would be asked to pitch out of the bullpen instead. One might see the uncertainty as a potential stumbling block in Pelfrey’s preseason preparation, but he refused to make excuses in a postgame chat with reporters.
“It hasn’t been that big of an issue. It’s all about routine. I’m not saying I can’t do it, I’ve just never done it. I’m a competitor, so I’ll make an adjustment if I need to. At the end of the day, pitching is still pitching,” Pelfrey explained, while adding that he’s “at peace” with what he’s shown over the past few weeks.
Between his seven years with the Mets and his two seasons with the Twins, Pelfrey has made a grand total of four relief appearances. Of course, during his time in New York, the former No. 9 overall pick had fans dreaming that he would blossom into an ace. For all we know, Pelfrey could have been on his way to that status in 2012 before he tore his UCL after three solid outings in April. Later that year, the Mets elected to non-tender Pelfrey rather than wait and see how things would shake out for him after surgery. I asked Pelfrey if he wishes that he had gotten another chance to put it all together in New York.
“I understood the business side of it, when they non-tendered me the GM [Sandy Alderson] actually called me and said that he appreciates everything I did there. I have no problems with that. I get it,” said the 31-year-old. “Then the Twins called and I have some family in Minnesota and I thought, man, this is a good opportunity, and like I said, I came back early [from Tommy John surgery]. Now is probably the best I’ve felt since I’ve been in Minnesota.”
Pelfrey would rather be gearing up every fifth game, but he says he’ll do just fine pitching out of the pen and he’s prepared to do whatever is asked of him to help the Twins win. However, one has to wonder if he could be helping another team in need of a starter instead. A contending club with a hole in its rotation could do a lot worse than adding Pelfrey, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Twins received calls on him once the season starts.