Molitor explains reason for Milone move

Molitor explains reason for Milone move

MINNEAPOLIS -- Manager Paul Molitor on Saturday explained the Twins' surprising decision to send left-hander Tommy Milone to Triple-A Rochester.

The Twins officially activated right-hander Ricky Nolasco (inflammation in right elbow) and left-hander Brian Duensing (strained right intercostal) from the 15-day disabled list before Saturday's game against the White Sox. To make room for them, the Twins optioned both Milone and left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar to Triple-A after Friday's 1-0 win.

The decision to option Thielbar was expected, as he's replaced by a fellow lefty reliever in Duensing, but the Milone decision was more of a surprise. The Twins had announced on Thursday that Milone would be heading to long relief with Nolasco taking his spot in the rotation, but he never had a chance to pitch out of the bullpen before being optioned.

Milone started the season with 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox on April 10, but saw a dip in his performance after that, posting a 7.20 ERA in his next three starts. He was 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in his four outings.

Molitor believes it makes more sense to keep Milone stretched out as a starter than to use him in an unfamiliar role as a reliever. He said things could change quickly with the rotation, so although it wasn't an easy decision, it allows the Twins to have more starting pitching depth.

"It doesn't make sense for him to be up here in the bullpen. He needs to be starting," Molitor said. "I think he was a little taken aback. I don't know if he envisioned that scenario unfolding, but he's going to take it and hopefully take our encouragement to go down there and pitch well and be ready."

With Milone optioned and right-hander Tim Stauffer placed on the 15-day DL on Friday with a strained right intercostal, the Twins will be without a long reliever in the short-term. But they recalled right-handed relievers Michael Tonkin and Ryan Pressly this week as reinforcements, and both have experience pitching multiple innings.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.