Graham called up for short stint with Twins

Graham called up for short stint with Twins

HOUSTON -- Right-handed reliever J.R. Graham joined the Twins on Wednesday, giving the club another arm in the bullpen after right-hander Alex Meyer was optioned to Triple-A Rochester following his start on Tuesday.

Graham made his season debut in Wednesday's 16-4 loss to the Astros, allowing two runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings. He entered to face Jose Altuve with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, and Altuve promptly hit a two-run double off the wall in right field. Graham later gave up an RBI single to Carlos Correa and a two-run double to Carlos Gomez on a grounder that hit the second-base bag. Graham remained in the game and tossed a 1-2-3 sixth.

Graham isn't expected to be with the club long, though, as he's likely to be optioned back to Rochester once right-hander Ervin Santana is activated from the 15-day disabled list to start on Saturday against the White Sox. The Twins decided to go with a bullpen arm, especially after Meyer lasted 2 2/3 innings in his first career start.

"We talked before the game yesterday about what could happen potentially postgame, talking about a position player or, depending on how the game went, if we needed to use the bullpen," manager Paul Molitor said. "Ervin is lurking here Saturday, so in the short-term we decided to go with another arm."

Graham, a Rule 5 pick last year who went on to post a 4.95 ERA in 63 2/3 innings with the Twins in 2015, was struggling at Rochester, with a 10.80 ERA. He had seven strikeouts and seven walks in 8 1/3 innings while picking up three saves, but he said his numbers were hurt by the fact that he's been trying to work a changeup into his arsenal while in the Minors.

"Down there I was working on a lot of things and making some progress," Graham said. "I really want to hammer down that changeup and some offspeed stuff. And really just location, in general. But now I'm feeling more back to normal instead of searching for something."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Ricky Nolasco will be moved up to start on regular rest in the series opener against the White Sox on Friday, while right-hander Tyler Duffey will get the nod in the series finale on Sunday. The Twins are waiting to officially announce Santana as their starter on Saturday, as he's not eligible to come off the DL until Thursday. The roster move isn't expected to come until after Friday's game.

• The Twins are going to keep trying to find ways to get Eduardo Nunez's hot bat into the lineup, and he started at shortstop instead of Eduardo Escobar on Wednesday. Escobar has been in a slump, but Molitor said he will remain the starter, getting occasional rest based on matchups to get Nunez playing time.

• General manager Terry Ryan is debating whether to send a scout to former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum's showcase on Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ryan said the issue is that Lincecum wants to start, but he feels his club has enough rotation depth with Nolasco, Santana, Duffey, Phil Hughes, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.