2019 will go down as a lost season for Trevor Hildenberger. After evolving into a bullpen stalwart for the Twins after his 2017 call-up, the 28-year-old broke camp in 2019 and didn’t allow a run in his first 11 outings. Then the bottom fell out.
After allowing 13 runs in his next 7 1/3 innings, Hildenberger was demoted to Triple A on May 16. His struggles continued in Rochester before a right mass flexor strain shelved him for two months.
Hoping to regain his form after receiving a September call-up, Hildenberger has not fared well. Overall, the California native has posted a 10.47 ERA, allowing 19 runs in 16 1/3 innings with seven walks. I caught up with Hildenberger recently and discussed his frustrating season.
DZ: Well, I imagine it feels pretty good to be back here.
HILDENBERGER: Really good. Really, really happy to be back in Minneapolis and back with the boys and work to contribute down the stretch and help finish what we started.
DZ: Obviously, the season didn’t go the way you planned with being sent down with injuries and everything and when you reflect on that, what do you think about?
HILDENBERGER: It’s just a learning experience, a learning experience. I think everybody faces adversity throughout the year, I think getting hurt is a part of that and getting sent down is a part of that and obviously I was struggling and had issues to work through so, hopefully I’m better for it. I feel healthy now and I just understand a lot better what made me good in the first place. So it was actually a blessing in disguise.
DZ: Cool. What’s it like when you’ve been such a part of things in your life since you’ve had so much success but you’re kind of cut off from the distance, I guess?
HILDENBERGER: Yeah, it’s fun watching these guys take it to League. It’d be worse if I left and I was in Fort Myers watching them lose, you know what I mean? But it’s awesome to see the three All Stars we had, I don’t know, having a career here and Polanco and everybody hitting all these home runs and breaking records. So it’s been really fun and obviously to be back now it’s even more fun.
DZ: Obviously, last year you spent the whole year in the Major Leagues; is it hard to play in the minors after having left the experience and the lifestyle, etc.?
HILDENBERGER: No, it’s definitely an adjustment, but it’s an adjustment everywhere you go. It’s just part of it. Lifestyle changes, baseball changes, you just got to adapt.
DZ: Cool. I talked to Taylor Rogers a couple of months ago and he compared relief pitching to being like an offensive lineman, basically you get noticed when you screw up.
DZ: You agree with that?
HILDENBERGER: Yeah, for the most part. I think that you do your job, you don’t get noticed, you stay silent, like that’s a good thing. When people are paying too much attention to you as reliever, you’re either the best reliever in the league or you’re screwing up. So, I think he’s right.
DZ: Cool. One last thing, I was looking at your Twitter page and I noticed you had a couple of retweets about global warming and environment. Is that something that you’ve gotten passionate about?
HILDENBERGER: Yeah, I try not to retweet too many, anything too radical out there but definitely keeping an eye on it.
See more of David Zingler’s 2019 athlete interviews:
September 19: Zack Littell
September 15: Ian Miller
September 5: Tyler Duffey
August 29: Jake Odorizzi
August 27: Mitch Garver
August 23: Trevor May
August 21: Sergio Romo
August 17: Sylvia Fowles
July 25: Max Kepler
July 20: Kyle Gibson
July 10: Alaina Coates
June 25: Taylor Rogers
June 19: Ryan Eades
June 16: Jason Castro
May 18: Seimone Augustus
April 24: Ryne Harper
April 21: CJ Cron
February 2: Caleb Truax