Notes: Silva responds favorably in 'pen

Notes: Silva responds favorably

MINNEAPOLIS -- The thinking behind moving Carlos Silva to the bullpen was to get his sinker working again and his confidence level up so that he could return to the rotation.

With Silva responding favorably on both accounts in his recent outings, it appears more and more likely the Twins will be using Silva as a starter again in the near future.

Following a two-inning outing on Saturday night, in which Silva held the Mariners scoreless while giving up just one hit and striking out one, the Twins' coaching staff seemed more than encouraged.

"Silva threw great," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was throwing a good, hard sinker and that's a very positive sign for us. That's what we're looking for."

Since the move was made to put him in the bullpen, Silva has kept quiet about his thoughts on the situation. It wasn't the easiest move for the pitcher to take, but Silva said that he has been trying to make the best of what was not the ideal situation for him.

"I tried to take that thing in a positive way, just go there to get my thing right, but it was hard for me," Silva said. "Especially in that moment, it was tough. When they tell you they are going to send you to the bullpen, no matter what it is, even if it's to help you get better, you are going to feel bad.

"I am so competitive. So to be a starter and then to go to the bullpen, that was hard for me."

But Silva's competitive edge has proven to be just as important in his drive to return to the rotation. The time in the bullpen has allowed Silva to throw every day and work on specific changes in his mechanics. And though it wasn't his first choice as to how to fix the problem with his sinker, Silva said that he has noticed the extra work has paid off.

"Right now, my sinker is working a little bit better," Silva said. "My focus is just to throw below the knee. The only thing different that I'm trying to do right now is get on top of the ball, which I have been able to do pretty well. I feel very good now."

Catching a hot streak: Two of the hottest hitters for the Twins this season have been the team's two catchers -- Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond.

Gardenhire has been hesitant to use both catchers in the same game due to risk of injury, so with Mauer catching a majority of the time, Redmond has continued to be relegated to backup duty despite his team-high .422 average.

Both catchers, however, were slotted in Sunday's lineup. With Mauer hitting .411 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored over his last 14 games, Gardenhire didn't want to sit the 23-year-old on a day he needed a rest from catching, so he started the backstop at designated hitter.

"Today was just one of those days to try it," Gardenhire said. "You just don't want to do it often. Redmond does a super job on the days I do put him in there, but I don't want to push the envelope with my catchers too much. They are too valuable."

Easing the pressure: It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for Jesse Crain.

After struggling at the start of the year, Crain looked to have turned things around near the start of May, when he went six straight outings without giving up a run.

Trouble started again last Sunday at Milwaukee when Crain was unable to maintain a 3-1 Twins lead for rookie Boof Bonser, allowing four runs. Crain struggled again in another Bonser start on Saturday night.

With the Twins leading 8-4, Crain allowed the tying run to come to the plate after loading the bases without recording an out.

Gardenhire said he is going to try and find less stressful situations for the reliever, even though the skipper felt the four-run lead on Saturday was one of those.

"It just looks like he's maximum effort on every pitch," Gardenhire said. "And I think that's when [pitching coach Rich Anderson] went out and told him, 'You have to be just like you're throwing out in the bullpen. You have to hit your spots and let the ball sink.' His last two outings, he just hasn't done that."

Heading west: Following Sunday's game, the Twins will head off on an 11-day, 10-game road trip to the West Coast. Facing three teams with sub-.500 records would seem to be a relief for Gardenhire and his squad, especially for how well they have done against the American League West this year.

So far this season against the division, the Twins are 9-4 and batting .300. But the success hasn't made Gardenhire rest any easier heading into the trip.

"We're not in a situation where we can take anybody lightly," Gardenhire said. "We're still trying to get to the .500 mark and get right with ourselves. This is a huge trip, and it's notorious that teams go out and don't play very well when they go out West. We have to try and break that trend."

Twins tidbits: Even with the Twins facing a right-hander on Sunday, Jason Kubel once again was on the bench, with Lew Ford starting in left field. Gardenhire said that with the difficulty in seeing fly balls during the day as the Metrodome's roof grows lighter, he didn't want to put any extra pressure on the 24-year-old Kubel, whose lone start in left this season came at night. ... Luis Rodriguez made his first start in the field since May 15 on Sunday. Rodriguez started in place of third baseman Tony Batista, who is a career 3-for-20 against Seattle starter Joel Pineiro.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Rochester outfielder Jason Tyner was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week. In five games for the Red Wings, Tyner hit .474 (9-for-19) with two doubles and two RBIs. Tyner, 29, has now hit safely in each of his last 17 games.

Coming up: The Twins begin their long West Coast swing with an 8:05 p.m. CT game against the Angels on Monday. The Memorial Day matchup will feature Brad Radke facing off against fellow right-hander John Lackey.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.