Left-hander started four years in Minors and now is full-time reliever
By Do-Hyoung Park
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's already difficult enough to make the transition into the Major Leagues, but Twins left-hander Taylor Rogers has had to do more than just elevate his play to the big league level over the past two months -- he's had to adjust to a completely new role as well.
Rogers, who was used almost exclusively as a starter in two years of college baseball at Kentucky and across four Minor League seasons, has been asked to be a lefty specialist out of the Twins' bullpen in his first season with the club.
"I wouldn't say it's been easy," Rogers said. "Especially with runners on -- just from being a starter, sometimes when you get your runs cashed in, it's not a good feeling. That's what I didn't want to do -- to come in and cash somebody's runs in. I'd feel terrible about that.
"I'm just trying to be ready every day. As a starter, I took pride in going seven innings and eating up innings. As a reliever, I try to switch that into taking pride in being able to throw every day."
He certainly makes it look easy on the field. Rogers owns a 3.47 ERA through 23 1/3 innings pitched this season and struck out all three left-handed hitters he faced in the eighth inning of the Twins' loss to the Rangers on Friday night.
Six of the nine earned runs he's allowed this season have come in just two of his 21 appearances, dropping his ERA to 1.34 over his other 19 outings.
Rogers says that taking the mound as a reliever hasn't necessarily gotten easier as he's gained experience. While he's still nervous every time he takes the mound, Rogers does feel the game "slowing down a little bit more every time," and he's learning to embrace and enjoy the situations.
One thing that has made the transition easier for Rogers is his daily conversations with his identical twin brother Tyler, a relief pitcher in the Giants' system who was recently promoted to Triple-A after recording a 0.77 ERA in 35 appearances with the Double-A club.
Taylor would ask his brother questions about the mentality that is required of a relief pitcher: "How do you come to the ballpark every day? What's your mindset? Do you think about that? When things are going good, how do you keep them going good?"
"Every day's a different day -- baseball's a sport where you never know what's going to happen," Tyler told Taylor. "Sometimes things are out of your control. Keep your head down, focus on the things that you can control. Most of the time, it should work out."
For the time being, it certainly looks like the advice is paying off for the Twins' left-hander.
"He's getting better all the time," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "His velocity is going up, and I think his confidence is going up."
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.