Right-handed starter Ervin Santana was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list after making a quick recovery from his back strain. The corresponding move was optioning catcher John Ryan Murphy to Triple-A Rochester.
The Twins also recalled outfielder Darin Mastroianni and catcher Juan Centeno from Rochester. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Ryan O'Rourke and right-hander J.R. Graham were designated for assignment. Tommy Milone and Casey Fien also remain with the club but have been placed on waivers, according to reports.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan downplayed the idea that this is a major shakeup, but made it clear changes had to come.
"Usually I wouldn't jump to too many conclusions after one month of play, but that's the way it is," Ryan said. "We had to make some decisions to see if we can get this going in the right direction."
Twins manager Paul Molitor said the moves aren't intended to send a message to the clubhouse, but didn't deny the potential impact.
"I'm sure it makes it a little bit uncomfortable out there today," Molitor said. "You're dealing with things other than performance on the field. It's the whole atmosphere in the clubhouse that you want to make sure you keep your finger on the pulse of. I'm sure it's a little more tense out there today, but the main thing is we're trying to find a way to move forward here and somehow get back on track."
Santana was the Twins' Opening Day starter and brings an obvious boost to the club. But the Murphy move is more curious. The Twins traded outfielder Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for Murphy this offseason in a deal that hasn't worked out for either club. Murphy is hitting .075 for the Twins after 40 at-bats, and Hicks is batting .095 through 33 at-bats with New York.
"I told him today, to try to regain your confidence offensively when you're only getting maybe up to eight at-bats a week is a tough thing to do," Molitor said. "So it made sense. I've been thinking about it for a while with him, to get him down there and get at-bats and play regularly and see if he can get himself going."
Ryan said the Twins maintain "severe interest" in Murphy's long-term future with the organization, but Centeno will take over as the backup catcher while Murphy tries to find his swing. Centeno is a .164 hitter in 61 career Major League at-bats.
Molitor said he hopes the right-handed Mastroianni, who is a .212 hitter over 129 Major League games, can be an option off the bench to pinch-run or make spot starts against left-handers.
"I know when you're 8-20, it's not a good feeling," Molitor said. "You look at the fact we have 130 games to go … there's got to be something that you find to motivate yourself every day, and hopefully it doesn't take player transactions to do that."