Twins relievers aim to bond over road dinners

Veterans Belisle, Breslow, Kintzler set out to start bullpen tradition

Twins relievers aim to bond over road dinners

CHICAGO -- While the Twins' new front office embraces analytics, they also value leadership and chemistry, and it's one reason they signed veteran relievers Matt Belisle and Craig Breslow.

Belisle, 36, and Breslow, 36, have both served as leaders and mentors to their fellow relievers since Spring Training, and with the help of closer Brandon Kintzler, the bullpen is looking to start a tradition this year, dining together as a group in each road city.

"We started doing it a little bit last year, but I think this year we're really going to take advantage of it," right-hander Ryan Pressly said. "It obviously depends on if you have family in town or something like that, but we want to have a bullpen dinner in every city we go to. That's what we're trying to do to get closer to each guy. We want this to be a family."

It started Thursday night in Chicago, as all eight relievers attended dinner at a local steakhouse, and had fun at lefty Taylor Rogers' expense, as they played a game of credit-card roulette that was rigged to have Rogers lose, with the waiter bringing out a fake bill with an outrageous price.

Rogers fell for the prank, only for Belisle and Breslow to split the real check, and was just an example of the kind of fun they're trying to have this season after losing 103 games last year.

Pressly escapes trouble

"Everybody is just having fun right now," Pressly said. "There's no pressure in this clubhouse. Everyone is really loose. It's not like last year, when everything was tense and guys weren't talking to each other. Now when you go out there, it's just about having fun."

The bullpen was key in Minnesota's three-game sweep over the Royals, tossing 10 scoreless innings, including Pressly coming in to get out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in Thursday's 5-3 win.

"You can't ignore the fact that we've called on these guys on different times with different combinations and they've been effective," manager Paul Molitor said. "I think it adds to your confidence when you go on a little bit of a run and they feed off each other."

Worth noting

• Left-hander Ryan O'Rourke, on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm strain, has yet to start his throwing program. He still has minor discomfort in his forearm, but hasn't suffered any setbacks, according to general manager Thad Levine.

• Closer Glen Perkins, on the 60-day DL after undergoing labrum surgery, threw a bullpen session Wednesday and played long toss Thursday.

• Infielder Ehire Adrianza, on the DL with a right oblique strain, is expected to start swinging a bat this weekend, and if that goes well, he'll be ready for game action, but he is likely to go on a rehab assignment.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for 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.