MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Tommy Milone is headed to the bullpen, as he's being replaced in the rotation by prospect Alex Meyer, who will make his first career start Tuesday against the Astros.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco will start on regular rest against the Tigers on Sunday, and will be followed by top prospect Jose Berrios in the series opener in Houston on Monday. It'll be the second career start for Berrios, who gave up five runs over four-plus innings in his debut against the Indians on Wednesday.
Meyer, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Monday to pitch in long relief, was expected to remain in relief, but will instead be a member of the rotation after excelling in three starts at Rochester. The 6-foot-9 right-hander went 1-1 with a 1.04 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks in 17 1/3 innings. Meyer is ranked as Minnesota's No. 11 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
Meyer, though, struggled in his season debut in a relief appearance against the Tigers in Friday's 9-2 loss, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk in one inning. He allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth before getting out of a bases loaded jam with one out. He came back out for the ninth, but gave up three hits to open the inning before recording an out.
"We had talked about getting Alex into the game, but it didn't go very well for him," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I don't know if it was jitters or if coming in for the middle of the inning. But he struggled with his command. We all saw that."
Milone, meanwhile, will pitch in long relief after posting a 5.40 ERA in four starts. He only lasted more than five innings in one of those four outings.
"A lot of times he was hitting the top or the middle of the order by that fifth inning and it seems to be where the trouble was occurring," Molitor said. "With the kind of stuff he brings, he has to be on. And it seems like after they see him a couple times, they seem to make adjustments, especially to his changeup. But he's a valuable guy. We're just better off with him in the bullpen for a while."
• Right-hander Ervin Santana, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20 with a lower back strain, is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Saturday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the rotation shortly after he's eligible Thursday.
• Right-hander Kyle Gibson, on the DL retroactive to April 23 with a right shoulder strain, isn't as close to returning as Santana. Molitor said he expects him to be out "a little bit longer" than his eligible return date of May 8.
• Right-hander Tyler Duffey was one of five Major League players to sign a brand contact with Fantex, getting $2.23 million up front in exchange for 10 percent of his future earnings. Fantex will sell shares of Duffey to the public, which allows investors to make money if he reaches a certain career earnings threshold.