Twins’ bullpen welcomes back closer Jhoan Duran

CHICAGO — Jhoan Duran frequently described his time spent rehabbing over the past month-plus as “boring.”

The Twins reliever was forced off the field for the first month of the season by an oblique strain that he suffered during spring training. But, finally, the Twins activated him from the injured list on Tuesday, which should provide a cure for his boredom.

Minnesota’s bullpen has been a strength during the first month of the season — it entered Tuesday’s game with a 2.54 earned-run average, which was third in the majors — and that was without one of the best relievers on the planet.

“Our bullpen has been doing a great job. Our pitchers have been doing a great job,” center fielder Byron Buxton said. “To add Duran back to that mix is a big piece of getting our team back together.”

The Twins built Duran up slowly over the course of the last month and a half. They had him throw a pair of innings on rehab with St. Paul before activating him. His fastball touched 103 miles per hour in his second outing, a positive sign after his velocity was slightly lower his first time out.

“When I see that velocity, I feel more good,” Duran said. “It’s like, ‘OK, you see it. Let’s go.’”

He also expressed confidence in where his mechanics were at, saying he was opening up early during spring training, leading to a dip into his velocity.

“Right now, it’s great,” he said. I’m in the best spot right now.”

And that’s great news for the Twins.

While Griffin Jax (2.25 ERA entering Tuesday) and Brock Stewart (0.00 ERA), were among those that stepped up in Duran’s absence, adding him back to the group — and shortstop Carlos Correa back to the roster a day earlier — will allow the Twins to put players back into roles they are more familiar with.

“I think this puts a lot of people back into some more comfortable spots, into some other spots where we can better utilize our roster,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Our guys have been doing really a heck of a job and a lot of the guys that have been playing over these last couple weeks, we’ve challenged them and they’re coming through and that’s the pitchers and the position players.”

Bullpen shuffle

To make room for Duran on the roster, the Twins designated Matt Bowman, who was out of minor league options, for assignment. In five games pitched with Minnesota this season, Bowman had given up two runs across 7⅔ innings pitched.

“We gave Matt a good opportunity. He took advantage of the opportunity,” Baldelli said. “He was ready for everything we asked him to do. I really hope we get to keep Matt in the organization.”

The Twins will likely need to make room for another reliever in a matter of days with right-hander Justin Topa (knee) currently on a rehab assignment. Topa gave up three runs (two earned) in the Saints’ game on Tuesday.


The Twins will send Bailey Ober to the mound on Wednesday in the series finale in Chicago. After giving up eight runs in his season debut, Ober has given up just a combined four runs in his last four outings, posting a 1.48 ERA across those starts.

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