Monday, August 5, 2013

A Saskie Is Ready To Make His Mark In MLB

For the first time since Terry Puhl in 1991, a Saskatchewan boy has made the Majors. North Battleford's Andrew Albers gets the start for the Minnesota Twins Tuesday night when they take on Kansas City. He appears to be ready...


Andrew Albers has already been through his first Major League travel headache, but the Twins' newest player was all smiles on Saturday afternoon as he sat in the team's dugout at Target Field for the first time.
Albers found out late Friday night that he'd been called up to the big leagues, but first he had to endure a bus ride with his teammates from Lehigh Valley, Penn., back to Rochester, N.Y. Upon arriving at 4 a.m. ET, he had two hours to pack a bag and get to the airport, only to find out that his flight to Minneapolis had been cancelled due to storms in Chicago.
He eventually caught a different flight, which was subsequently diverted from Chicago to Detroit, where he transferred planes and finally landed in the Twin Cities in time to get him to Target Field less than three hours before the Twins were scheduled to face the Astros.
It was a journey Albers won't soon forget, but as long as it ended with him putting on a Major League uniform for the first time, the logistics were of little consequence.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind for the last day and a half here -- I'm just trying to take it all in," Albers said with an ear-to-ear grin. "I'm really thrilled to be here."
The 27-year-old lefty is scheduled to make his Major League debut on Tuesday in Kansas City, where he will replace Scott Diamond in the starting rotation. Similarly to when they called up Kyle Gibson in June, the Twins wanted to give Albers a few days to get his feet on the ground and settle in before facing the task of retiring big league hitters, a gesture he appreciated.
"I wouldn't want to be starting today after a 4 a.m. bus trip and 6 a.m. flight -- that would have been pretty tough," Albers said. "I'm glad I've got a couple of days to take in the atmosphere, get [acclimated] to the club and those good things."
Still, it won't be the first time this year that he's faced down the world's best hitters in a Major League stadium. Albers pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic and threw three innings against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix. That night, Albers stared down the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Luis Cruz, Jorge Cantu and Ramiro Pena, gaining valuable experience he hopes will transfer to his time with the Twins.
"You realize that they're human, too, and they can get out as well," Albers said. "That's the big thing -- you've got to come up and do what got you here, pound the zone and throw strikes and be aggressive."
Albers went 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A Rochester this year, and though he's not blessed with a blazing fastball, he managed 116 strikeouts in 132 1/3 innings. His numbers were good enough to catch the eye of Twins general manager Terry Ryan.
"He put himself on our radar. You can't overlook what he's accomplished down there every time he pitches," Ryan said. "He has a knack of being able to produce quality innings. He's got just enough funk, he's got location, he's got deception, he's got the stomach and the heart."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's received good reports on Albers' makeup both on and off the field.
"From just listening to [Rochester manager] Gene Glynn talk and guys that know him from around here, he's a competitor, a great guy for the club, a great clubhouse presence," Gardenhire said. "He doesn't have a lot of velocity, but he really knows how to pitch -- he can cut the ball in hard, even without velocity, and locate the baseball."
In terms of style, Albers mentioned former big league lefties Tom Glavine, Jamie Moyer and Jimmy Key as pitchers who got batters out with location and smarts rather than overpowering stuff, a path he hopes to follow.
"Pick and choose from a few of those guys," Albers said, "and not necessarily try to emulate them, but I try to take things from each of them and try to develop my own style."

(Minnesota Twins)

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