MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins are barely one-fourth of the way through the season and they are about to use their ninth starting pitcher.
This certainly wasn't part of their plan when they left spring training. The Twins are hoping that the latest rookie reinforcement for their depleted rotation will mimic the recent call-ups and help stabilize the struggling group.
Right-hander Jason Marquis was removed from the roster on Tuesday, ending his stint with the Twins after just seven starts. General manager Terry Ryan said he is trying to trade Marquis, but he is unlikely to be sent to Triple-A Rochester, an assignment the 13-year veteran has the right to refuse. If no deal is reached in 10 days, Marquis would be released. The Twins signed him for $3 million this season.
"You try to give everybody due respect, and he's been around a long time. It just wasn't working out here, so we decided to make a move," Ryan said.
So who's up next? The answer is right-hander Cole DeVries, whose contract was selected from Rochester. The Minnesota native went 1-4 with a 4.24 ERA for the Red Wings, allowing 47 hits in 46 2/3 innings with seven walks and 37 strikeouts.
Undrafted out of the University of Minnesota in 2006, DeVries breezed through Class A but struggled in 2010 between Double-A New Britain and Rochester, mostly out of the bullpen. Last year, he was much better, posting a combined 3.40 ERA with 23 walks and 75 strikeouts in 90 innings for the Rock Cats and the Red Wings. Then he impressed the Twins more with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League.
"Ever since he signed here, he's been fairly consistent. He can pitch out of the 'pen. He can start. He's got four pitches. He's athletic," Ryan said. "We're just going to give him the ball and see how he does."
The 27-year-old DeVries, once a standout at Eden Prairie High School, will start on Thursday for his major league debut. The Twins are in Chicago to play the White Sox.
Carl Pavano is the only one still in the rotation who was supposed to be there from the start. Scott Baker's elbow trouble led to Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Francisco Liriano was demoted to the bullpen. Nick Blackburn was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained thigh muscle, making him ineligible to return until June 1. Now Marquis has been yanked, too.
Though the top of the farm system has been thin on top prospects the last few years, particularly with recent first-round draft picks Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers recovering from elbow injuries, the Twins have found at least some short-term satisfaction with the job Scott Diamond and P.J. Walters have done since their promotions from Triple-A.
Diamond still leads Rochester with a 4-1 record, and he's 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in three starts for the Twins. Walters has won once and lost once, with a 3.65 ERA in two appearances entering Tuesday's start against the White Sox. Even Liam Hendriks, the first fill-in after Baker was deemed unable to pitch, threw well in his first two appearances before being hit hard in his last two starts and sent back to Triple-A.
The Twins chose DeVries this time to give Hendriks more time to find a rhythm.
"It seems like we're headed in the right direction here a little bit. I'm not going to tell you that everything has calmed down. It hasn't. But they've given us a chance to win," Ryan said.
Marquis was 2-4 with an abysmal 8.47 ERA. The veteran gave up 52 hits with 14 walks and only 12 strikeouts in 34 innings, his first foray into the American League.
Marquis was having one of the best seasons of his career in 2011 with the Washington Nationals, going 8-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 20 starts, but he was traded at the end of July and struggled in three appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks before his leg was broken by a line drive back to the mound.
His young daughter was seriously hurt in a bicycle accident in March, pulling Marquis to his home in New York, and he was late to join the Twins for the regular season after taking extra time in spring training to try to get back in a groove. The 33-year-old is 106-106 for his career with a 4.63 ERA.