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Brad Hand willing to take on any bullpen role to help his new team win

August 2, 2018

The Cleveland Indians traded two prospects in the days leading to the deadline and acquired three big-leaguers: relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber and center fielder Leonys Martin. The Twins traded five players off the roster and added one player to the big-league clubhouse: second baseman Logan Forsythe.

The Indians could add reliever Andrew Miller from a rehab assignment for the start of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels this weekend in Cleveland. Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked if there was a player at Class AAA Rochester that he wanted to see for an August look and said, Not really.

Meaning, there were substantially different vibes in the teams clubhouses on Wednesday morning at Target Field.

Forsythe took a redeye from Los Angeles and met with three reporters in the home clubhouse at 10 a.m. Catcher Bobby Wilson, once a teammate in Tampa Bay, exchanged a couple of quips, but that was it for byplay.

Down the hall, there were clusters of Indians in animated conversations, and long-haired starter Mike Clevenger using those giant rubber bands for exercise in a corridor, and even a former Cleveland front-office member Derek Falvey dropping in for a visit with his friend, manager Terry Francona.

As the Twins baseball boss, Falvey was the overseer of the Twins blood-letting that first sent away Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly for prospects who could be making an impact at Class AA Chattanooga by 2020. This was followed by progressively worse rewards for Lance Lynn and Zack Duke, and finally Brian Dozier was gift-wrapped to the Dodgers for Forsythe and two ho-hum minor leaguers.

The Twins were never going to be an object closer than it appeared for Cleveland this summer, and when the Indians fixed the bullpen on July 19 by trading top catching prospect Francisco Mejia for Hand and Cimber, it was all over but the waving goodbye to both Cleveland and to veteran teammates.

Hand, 28, is the lefthander from Chaska who went from being released by Miami in 2016 to become a two-time All-Star (2017-18) with San Diego.

Carl Willis, Clevelands pitching coach, said: I called Darren Balsley, the San Diego pitching coach, after the trade and he said, The great thing about Hand is he can do anything you want him to do. He can close, he can set up, and he can pitch earlier in the game, and youre going to get his best stuff in every situation. He doesnt care when in a game; he just wants to pitch and get outs. 

Hand is married with two kids. They were settled in San Diego for the season, a very nice place when not in the middle of a heat wave, and he was pitching in a big ballpark.

The San Diego ballpark isnt as big as you might think; the ball carries, Hand said. There were a lot of rumors that I was going to be traded last summer, and nothing happened, so I wasnt expecting it this time.

As a competitor, this is what you want: a first-place club that can reach the playoffs and make a run. The talent is outstanding. I havent been here long, but Ive seen enough to know this has to be the best left side of the infield in baseball with Jose [Ramirez] at third and Francisco [Lindor] at shortstop.

Hand verified the Balsley scouting report in Clevelands victories in Games 2 and 3 of the Target Field series:

He came on with one out in the seventh and got four outs without giving up a run Tuesday. He came in with one out in the eighth and got the last five outs in Wednesdays 2-0 victory.

Hand was Miamis second-rounder in 2008. The Marlins used him as a starter, a middle reliever, a long reliever and finally put him on waivers to start the 2016 season. San Diego claimed him on April 8, started using him late, and found an All-Star.

Miami didnt really try me as a one-inning guy, Hand said. The big thing, though, was I started throwing a slider more often. It was sort of a self-taught slider, and it became a better pitch for me than the curveball.

Presuming Miller arrives Friday, Andrew will bring the most notorious, sweeping slider in baseball. I know Andrew from Miami, Hand said. It will be great to have him in our bullpen.

Not so great for lefty hitters a bullpen with sliders from Hand and Miller. The Twins are in Cleveland next week. Logan Morrison and the fellas might want to borrow an oar from P.J. Fleck.

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@hbi.com

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