Twins play a man down after Castillo has travel issues

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The Twins announced Sunday afternoon after their 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers that they had optioned reliever Kody Funderburk. Funderburk had pitched quite a bit in the preceding games and the Twins planned on bringing in a fresh arm in the form of veteran right-hander Diego Castillo to replace him on the roster.

Instead, they encountered something that has become much less of an issue since they linked up with the Triple-A St. Paul Saints: They were unable to get the reliever to the Twin Cities in time for the game from upstate New York. where the Saints were playing the Buffalo Bisons.

The Twins did not officially make a roster move before Monday’s game, playing a man down in the bullpen.

It wouldn’t matter much in their 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals as Joe Ryan threw seven innings and the Twins used three other relievers — Griffin Jax, Cole Sands and Jhoan Duran — to cover the final two innings.

It’s expected that the Twins will officially add Castillo to the roster ahead of Tuesday’s game after a solid two months with St. Paul. Castillo, 30, who signed a minor league contract with the Twins in March, had a 2.50 earned-run average across 18 innings for the Saints. He had struck out 22 and recorded five saves.

Manager Rocco Baldelli was a coach for the Tampa Bay Rays when Castillo debuted in 2018 and mentioned his dynamic sinker-slider mix, as well as his delivery, which he said he believes “messes with hitters.”

“I remember him being real good and I think he’s worked his way back into throwing the ball well,” Baldelli said. “I think he’s worked hard to get here and to be an option at the major league level again. … That’ll be good to see him. Good guy, too.”

Ryan throws record pitch

Joe Ryan threw a handful of pitches above 96 miles per hour on Monday. The fastest, 96.6 mph, came in the second inning to Nelson Velázquez and is now the hardest he’s thrown in his career.

“He’s a different animal when he’s throwing that hard,” catcher Ryan Jeffers said.

Ryan’s average four-seam fastball was up nearly a mile per hour on Monday in his dominant start against the Royals, clocking in at 94.7 mph.

“I think (it’s) trusting the process and what we’re doing before outings,” Ryan said. “Certain things I’ve learned over the years and what can help me feel better. I’m just kind of going on what I feel that day. If it’s down, it’s down. If it’s up, it’s up. Make pitches accordingly and just attack the zone. Good to see some higher numbers.”


Brooks Lee’s rehab has been moved from the Florida Complex League to the Florida State League. The top prospect is rehabbing from a herniated disc in his back and should rejoin Triple-A St. Paul, where he finished last season, soon. Lee was 9 for 20 (.450) with a 1.026 OPS in five games played. … The Twins activated reliever Josh Winder from his rehab assignment and optioned him to Triple-A.

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