Twins current and past speak well of retired MLB umpire Angel Hernandez

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to LaTroy Hawkins, pitching with Angel Hernandez behind the plate was an attractive proposition.

Hernandez, who retired on Monday midway through his 31st season as a major league umpire, had become the go-to punchline for criticizing MLB’s on-field officiating — a reputation earned over time but exacerbated by advances in technology that place the official strike zone behind every batter in every telecast.

His greatest hits made the rounds on social media almost as soon as USA Today broke the story of his retirement late Monday, but Hawkins — who pitched parts of 21 major league seasons, the first eight in Minnesota — never had a beef with Hernandez.

In the wake of his retirement, a lot of current and former players have noted that they liked Hernandez, 62, personally, including Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers on Tuesday. But Hawkins, 51, said what he liked about Hernandez was his work behind the plate.

“Because he was consistent. I tell people that,” Hawkins said before joining the telecast for the Twins’ 4-2 victory over Kansas City Target Field on Tuesday. “They say, ‘Yeah, consistently bad.’ I say, ‘But he was consistent.’

“The only thing I hated as a pitcher was (umpires) that changed what a ball and a strike was depending on who was hitting or pitching. I didn’t like that. That didn’t matter with Angel.”

Justin Morneau was due to join Hawkins and play-by-play man Cory Provus, said he never considered Hernandez different from any other MLB umpire. But he noted an interaction with the veteran umpire that has always stuck with him.

In the first game of a series in Toronto, Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Twins, took an outside pitch for a strike, then an inside pitch for a strike. He thought both were balls, “and I barked at him after.”

When the series was over, Morneau ran into Hernandez in the Toronto airport.

“He said, ‘Are you still (mad) at me?’ ” Morneau recalled. “And it took me a second. I was like, ‘What is he talking about?’ So, he was still thinking about it a couple days later, because it wasn’t the same day.”

Morneau, 43, was never tossed from a major league game and made spending money as a youth officiating baseball and hockey games in his native British Columbia.

“The way I looked at it was like, ‘Well, it’s never personal, it’s just that I didn’t agree with the call.’ But I think he took a lot of it personally, and the fact that he still cared about it showed me something. … I never had any problems with Angel.”

Hernandez was behind the plate when Jose Mijares threw his infamous purpose pitch behind Adam Everett during an 8-3 win in September 2009, and was at first base when the Twins won their 12th straight game early this month. He worked his last game on May 9 and, according to USA Today, negotiated his retirement with MLB through the Memorial Day weekend.

“Every umpire misses calls,” Jeffers said. “Did he miss more than others? Probably. But he was a good guy, and that’s what people should know.”

Twins add Castillo

The Twins selected the contract of Diego Castillo on Tuesday and added him to the 26-man active roster in time for the right-hander to pitch out of the bullpen Tuesday night.

Castillo, 30, signed a minor league contract on March 30 and made 18 appearances for Class AAA St. Paul this season, fanning 22 and walking six in 18 innings. He has a career 3.22 earned-run average.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins moved Justin Topa to the 60-day injured list. The key veteran piece in the January trade that sent Jorge Polanco to Seattle, Topa has yet to pitch for the Twins because of patellar tendinitis in his left knee.


Royce Lewis played third base for the Saints in the first game of a double-header Tuesday in Buffalo, N.Y. On a rehab assignment for a quad strain suffered on opening day, Lewis was 0 for 3 in a 6-2 loss and is batting .250 (3 for 12) with two runs scored and a stolen bases in three games with the Saints. … Kansas City first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino left in the third inning of Tuesday night’s game after injuring himself trying to force Buxton with two out in the third inning. The Royals said he has a lower-leg contusion, but X-rays showed no additional damage.