MINNEAPOLIS -- Before Wednesday's game against the Royals, Twins right-hander Justin Haley received a text from his dad, Rich, who had booked a last-minute flight from Sacramento, Calif., to see his son potentially make his Major League debut.
But the flight wasn't set to land until 4:30 p.m. CT, so Rich Haley wasn't going to be able to make it in time to join Justin Haley's wife, Casey, for the second game of the season, which had a 12:10 p.m. start time.
"He texted me saying, 'I can't wait any more, and I really want to see you guys and hopefully see your debut. You better not throw today,'" Haley said. "As soon as he said that, I knew I was throwing."
Of course, Haley made his debut while his dad was flying across the country, and it was an impressive one: He threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Minnesota's 9-1 win. Haley and his wife picked up his dad at the airport after the game, and were at least able to tell him how it went. They also showed him the game ball that Haley gave to his wife, the lone family member there for his debut.
"She was really excited," Haley said. "She was really emotional. More so than even me. She has no control over how it goes and just hopes it goes well. We've gone through this journey together and now it's ended up here in the big leagues."
Haley, a Rule 5 Draft pick, will be eased into low-leverage roles until the Twins get a better sense for how his stuff will play in the Majors. He's not a hard thrower -- his fastball averaged 91.4 mph in his debut -- but has some funk to his delivery, and Twins manager Paul Molitor likes the way he locates his offspeed pitches.
"To break him in that way yesterday, I think worked out well for us," Molitor said. "He's an interesting guy. He doesn't have a lot of velocity. But guys take funny swings against him because he has that crossfire and hides his delivery pretty well. You also gotta like how he locates his changeup and curveball for strikes early. But in a Rule 5 situation, you generally want to be careful."
Haley, who had only 12 career relief appearances during his time in the Red Sox organization, said he's still adjusting to the bullpen, but is feeling more and more comfortable with the role.
"I've become pretty good with my routine as a reliever," Haley said. "I'm getting to where I can get ready in 10 or so throws and then the eight on the mound. I'm feeling like I'm heading toward that good point where I can be ready quick."