04/11/2007 11:42 PM ET
Neshek: Life as a middle reliever
Pat Neshek went 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA as a rookie with the Twins last season. (James A. Finley/AP)
In my second game of this young season, I came in midway through an inning with a man on first. I gave up a ground-rule double, intentionally walked another guy and ended up leaving the bases loaded on a very cold day in Chicago. That's the exciting part about being a middle reliever. It's tough pitching in cold weather, when you can't feel your hands, but you just get the job done.
I've always been a closer, but we've got so many guys in a pretty stacked bullpen that we need to adjust and adapt to new roles. It's nice to be able to show everybody what you've got. I know that if you put up good stats, you'll have a spot.
The next day, I experienced the other side of bullpen life. I had the pleasure of watching our Cy Young winner, Johan Santana. It's fun to watch Johan. You know you're always going to get a good outing from him. He's won two Cy Young's and he's going to win a couple more down the road here. It's fun to just sit back and watch him because it makes our job a lot easier. You know he's going to go six, seven innings, at least.
Everybody who pitches at this level is an excellent pitcher, so I don't know if I consciously watch Johan any differently than other guys, but I will say it's nice to see him strike out a lot of guys.
Johan is left-handed and I'm right-handed with a sidearm slot, so he attacks hitters in a very different way and hitters react to him differently than me. We're different kinds of pitchers, so it's hard to draw a lot of comparisons to help my game, but you can see what he's doing to different guys and try to get something out of it. For example, I like to watch the way he uses his changeup and how he goes about getting guys out.
Our starting staff is a little different this year. Brad Radke retired and Francisco Liriano is out for the year recovering from elbow surgery. We can't replace Radke's veteran presence, but we do have a lot of strong pitching in the Minor Leagues right now.
Our franchise relies on a strong Minor League system. There are a lot of guys waiting in Triple-A right now who could do a pretty good job for us. I think you could take any of the five starters down there and they could help any team in the big leagues. It's kind of like last year when something like 17 of us got called up from Rochester.
Pat Neshek made his Major League debut on July 7, 2006, and didn't allow a run in his first five appearances. After going 6-2 with 14 saves and a 1.95 ERA in Triple-A, he continued his success with the division-winning Twins, compiling a 4-2 record with a 2.19 ERA in 32 appearances. Neshek got the win in his first appearance this season, pitching a perfect inning in a 3-2 win over the Orioles. You can read Pat's blog, called On the Road with Pat Neshek, throughout the season on his Web site.