By Joe Christensen
The Twins just announced that reliever Luis Ayala has been designated for assignment, making room on the roster for righthander Bobby Keppel, who has been promoted from Class AAA Rochester.
Keppel, 27, was 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 23 appearances for Rochester, including three starts. He had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn’t added to the major league roster by July 1.
Ayala, 31, posted a 4.18 ERA for the Twins in 28 appearances after signing a one-year, $1.3 million contract on Feb. 9. The Twins had grown increasingly frustrated with Ayala’s inconsistency with his sinker.
They spared lefthander Sean Henn, who has posted a 7.36 ERA in 13 appearances.
“We don’t want to give up on [Henn],” Twins General Manager Bill Smith said. “He’s lefthanded and he’s got velocity. He’s another one who’s been inconsistent, but he’s got upside. We felt that Keppel was a good fit for us right now, and unfortunately it cost Ayala a spot.”
Keppel, 27, last pitched in the majors for Colorado in 2007, when he had an 11.25 ERA in four relief appearances. He had an 0-4 record for the Royals in 2006 with a 5.50 ERA in eight games, including six starts.
Keppel was the 36th player drafted in the 2000 amateur draft, signing with the Mets, who released him in 2005. Last season, pitching for Class AAA Albuquerque, he had a 9-11 record and 5.99 ERA in 28 games, including 27 starts.
Update: Smith said the team remains hopeful that Justin Morneau will return to the lineup Tuesday after missing Sunday’s game with general soreness. Also, Nick Punto (bruised ribs) did not have an MRI exam today, suggesting he could be close to returning, as well.