The Twins players, fans and front office would love to strike last season’s 103-loss debacle from the record. In a season that turned into an open audition, some of the players are gone forever (remember James Beresford and Logan Schafer?), but others look like significant contributors to what could be a winning 2017 Twins team. Outfielder Robbie Grossman, picked up off waivers from Cleveland, has been an on-base machine, Jose Berrios looks like a potential front-end starter and reliever Taylor Rogers, an anchor to a still developing bullpen.
Drafted in the 11th round out of the University of Kentucky in 2012, Rogers was used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors. In the big leagues however, the left hander has worked strictly out of the bullpen. So far with the Twins, Rogers has racked up 76 2/3 innings over 79 appearances and posted a 3.87 ERA with 76 strikeouts versus 20 walks.
The 26-year-old and I talked during the Colorado series last week.
DZ: What are your impressions of the season so far?
ROGERS: It’s nice to get off to a good start like we did. That kind of jump started us for the regular season. Positive attitudes, good vibes. I think, at this point now, we just try to keep to that as our daily goal. When we come in, try to win a ball game, win a series. Keep it to a couple of days at a time and win those couple of days. Move on after that.
DZ: You made the opening day roster for the first time. What was that experience like for you?
ROGERS: That was cool. In spring training, Molly (Paul Molitor) called me into his office; sometimes when that happens, you think you are going to go one way or the other. I wasn’t sure what to expect. He told me I made the team. It’s kind of like getting called-up, it’s a moment you don’t forget.
DZ: It seems like your role keeps getting bigger and bigger. Are you satisfied with your career progression so far?
ROGERS: Yeah, so far. I’ve got a lot to work on still. I just take it one day at a time. Try to win the day, whatever it may be – 6th inning, 8th inning – whatever. Win that inning. Every big league out is big. That’s the way I have been taking it.
DZ: I talked to Casey Fien last year, he said as a relief pitcher, you are as good as your last batter. That’s all that matters.
ROGERS: Yeah. Exactly. Right. No question. There is no better way to say that. I have been joking with people, “If the media doesn’t talk to you, it’s a good thing.” If they do, it means you blew the game (laughs).
DZ: (laughs) What did you learn from last year; your first year in the big leagues?
ROGERS: Just kind of the routine for the bullpen. That was new to me. I kind of got a routine together for myself; a mindset on a day-to-day basis. I have kind of learned how to prepare and recover. I kind of took that into this year and go from there.
DZ: Would you like a chance to start or are you cool with the bullpen role?
ROGERS: I am cool with the bullpen role. Whatever happens in the future happens, I am open to anything. Obviously, this year I am in the bullpen. We’ll just go from there.
DZ: You have a twin brother Tyler, how is he doing?
ROGERS: He’s doing well. He’s in Sacramento with the Giants (Triple A). I don’t call the shots over there, but I think he’s making a good push to get his call-up….We go to San Francisco (June 8-10). That would be pretty cool (if he were called-up), but I don’t know if you can draw that situation up. It’s too good to be true.
DZ: You went to Kentucky, so you must be a pretty big UK hoops fan?
ROGERS: I love Kentucky basketball. Love it. March Madness during spring training is huge. I always wear my Kentucky stuff when they play. Like to follow them.
DZ: Did you watch the new (ESPN) 30 for 30 (documentary), “One But Not Done” yet?
ROGERS: You know, I have not gotten to watch it yet, but I really want to. My first year at UK was Calipari’s first year. So I feel like I got to start with him and follow him from there. I kind of like the “one and done” thing. Some people like it, some people don’t. Being a fan, I like it.