Berrios optioned to Triple-A after rough start

Rookie to work on mechanics at Rochester; righty Duffey also sent down

Berrios optioned to Triple-A after rough start

MINNEAPOLIS -- After posting a 10.20 ERA through his first four Major League starts, the Twins sent highly regarded prospect Jose Berrios to Triple-A Rochester for more seasoning, and he responded by posting a 2.71 ERA over 13 starts in the Minors to get his second call to the big leagues.

The Twins were hopeful he'd find more success in his second go-around, but it simply hasn't worked out that way, as he's continued to struggle. The right-hander had another rough outing in Thursday's 8-5 loss to the Tigers and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester along with fellow right-hander Tyler Duffey. Lefty Andrew Albers will be called up on Friday, while the other roster move is to be announced.

Berrios went five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and five walks. The 22-year-old has an 8.59 ERA in five starts since the promotion. Twins manager Paul Molitor compared the decision to send him down to the one the club made in late July, when fellow top prospect Byron Buxton was optioned instead of trying to figure it out in the Majors.

"I think you can recall our Buxton conversations about how it gets to a point where you're not doing him any favors right now," Molitor said. "You still have to try to protect your team. I think for him, it's backing off the pressure and implementing some of the things he's working on in a less stressful environment. I love giving guys experience, especially when we are where we are, but it doesn't seem like the right thing."

Berrios has worked extensively on his mechanics with pitching coach Neil Allen and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, while also seeking input from veteran right-hander Ervin Santana and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in recent bullpen sessions. They've tried to overhaul his arm action -- Berrios tends to wrap his arm behind his back before he throws -- while also working with him close his front side earlier.

Berrios said it's the biggest changes he's made mechanically in his career, but that he'll continue to work on them at the Minor League level.

"In the Minors, it's more about little changes here and there, but nothing like this," Berrios said. "They were quick fixes."

The issue has been his command, as he's had trouble locating his fastball and often falls behind hitters, such as in the third inning Thursday, when he gave up a game-changing three-run homer to James McCann on a 3-2 fastball up in the zone with two outs. He also walked five batters, giving him 11 over his past five starts.

Molitor said he notices that Berrios tends to revert to his old mechanics when he gets in trouble, so it'll be important for him to slow the game down at Triple-A. He's still a strong candidate to be a September callup, and Berrios is doing what he can to take the demotion in stride.

"I was surprised, but I understand the decision," Berrios said. "They want me to go down there and gain more confidence. I want to take advantage of my starts in Rochester and do what I can to get back up here."

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.