José Berríos didn’t have the chance to start his third straight Opening Day when the Minnesota Twins kicked off their season last Thursday, April 1, in Milwaukee. He’ll settle for the next best thing.
Berríos is on tap to start the Twins’ home opener at 3:10 p.m. Thursday, April 8, against the Mariners at Target Field, the club’s first home game in front of fans since the 2019 American League playoffs.
“I think it’s going to be special. Obviously, one year without fans in the stands. We’ve been playing so hard and giving 100 percent, but now, we’re going to have fans out there cheering for us, making it loud the first day with a lot of excitement,” Berríos said. “Having the opportunity to pitch (on) that day is going to be really special for me and my family.”
He’ll be looking to build upon a performance last Saturday that was about as good as it gets. In his first start of the season, Berríos threw six no-hit innings, striking out 12. The only baserunner to reach against him was hit by a pitch.
The last time he started the home opener — which was also an Opening Day start in 2019 — Berríos threw a scoreless 7 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and striking out 10.
“I think it’s important to him. I think he’s going to really be jazzed up again as he was in his first start of the year,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think that energy is going to return in a lot of ways and maybe potentially even more so.”
Rooker to IL
The Twins called up Brent Rooker to take the roster spot of injured third baseman Josh Donaldson. But before Donaldson was even eligible to return, Rooker himself suffered an injury Wednesday.
Rooker, who originally was slotted to play left field and bat sixth in Wednesday’s lineup against the Tigers in Detroit, was instead placed on the IL with a cervical strain. Baldelli said Rooker likely tweaked his neck making a diving catch in the outfield in Monday’s game.
In his place, the Twins selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Brandon Waddell, who had been traveling with them on the taxi squad. Waddell, who the Twins claimed off waivers from the Pirates this offseason, turned heads in spring training by striking out 15 batters in 9 1/3 innings. He was one of the last cuts in spring camp.
“He’s a guy that can handle himself out on the mound, can take suggestion, can do a lot of things,” Baldelli said this spring. “He came in very open-minded. We’ve been able to talk to him, experiment with and take out onto the field a good four-seam fastball. And he can spin the ball and he has pretty good feel for what he’s doing and command-wise.”
To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Twins transferred Edwar Colina (right elbow inflammation) to the 60-day IL.
The pregame ceremony for Thursday’s home opener will include a flyover and a ceremonial first pitch from former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to his son, Toby Gardenhire, the manager of the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, among other festivities. … Berríos will be opposed by Mariners starter Marco Gonzales, a lefty.