Ayala had requested trade from Twins
Reliever wanted to be moved to get eighth-inning role
MILWAUKEE -- Relief pitcher Luis Ayala had asked for a trade from the Twins three weeks before being designated for assignment, manager Ron Gardenhire revealed before Tuesday's series opener against the Brewers.
The Twins designated Ayala for assignment on Monday and called up right-handed pitcher Bobby Keppel from Triple-A Rochester to take his place in the bullpen."He asked for this, and when you ask out of here, you will get out of here," Gardenhire said of Ayala. "It's simple." Gardenhire said that Ayala requested a trade because he was unhappy with the fact that he was not pitching in the club's setup role. When the Twins signed the 30-year-old free agent in February, the hope was that he could pitch in the eighth inning and be one of the primary setup men to build the bridge to Twins closer Joe Nathan. But in 28 appearances for the Twins, Ayala posted a 4.18 ERA. He suffered three blown saves by May 3, and the sinkerball pitcher had trouble finding consistency with the pitch. As the season progressed, the club's confidence in using Ayala in late-inning situations began to dwindle. "He wanted an eighth-inning role. That's why he signed over here," Gardenhire said. "But he wasn't pitching well enough to be an eighth-inning guy. So there you have it. His thoughts were that if we gave him the ball in that eighth inning, he would be able to do the job more. My thoughts are, if you are not getting them out, you are not going to pitch in the eighth inning. We are trying to win." Gardenhire said the team tried to trade Ayala following his request but was unable to do so. So the skipper said that left the Twins to make the move they did on Monday. "You try to move him and then you get to this point," Gardenhire said. After designating a player, a team has 10 days to either trade him, release him or place him on waivers. Since Ayala has more than five years' service time, he has the right to reject an outright assignment to Triple-A Rochester even if he clears waivers. So it's unlikely that he will remain in the organization. If the Twins release Ayala, they would be responsible for the remainder of the $1.3 million contract he signed in February. Although things didn't work out between Ayala and the Twins, Gardenhire stressed that the pitcher wasn't a problem case. It's just that he and Ayala saw differently on one very important issue. "I'm talking about winning this year and he's talking about if he doesn't get in the right situations here, he's worried about his contract for next year," Gardenhire said. "You lose me right there. I don't deal with that. We're talking about winning now. So we were talking about different things. "That's why he's out the door and another guy is in here to pitch. It's not that [Ayala] is a bad guy. His theories are a little different than ours."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.