Photo by Joe Territo
Liam Hendriks is hoping to carry the momentum of his 5-0 record and 1.94 ERA that he gathered with the Rochester Wings into Saturday's start with the Minnesota Twins as they take on Milwaukee.
Rochester Red Wings
Wings’ Hendriks gets the call
ROCHESTER – Take two.
Last night, the Minnesota Twins called up Rochester Red Wings’ standout pitcher Liam Hendriks to start against the Milwaukee Brewers this Saturday.
This will be his second attempt to find a rhythm in the majors after posting an 0-2 record with a 9.00 ERA and being demoted back to Rochester in early May.
Hendriks knows he is ready, and the Twins must think so too, especially after seeing the Australian right-hander throw to the beat of a 5-0 record, a 1.94 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
“When I got sent down (to Rochester), I was told to do what got me here,” Hendriks said. “I’m feeling really strong. I got a lot stronger this year than I was last year and I think it’s shown. I’m executing my pitches a little bit better and my breaking pitches are a little bit sharper. Putting hitters under pressure is what I’ve really been working on.”
He’s been the Red Wings’ best pitcher since his failed four-game stint for the Twins. In his last two starts, he combined for no runs, seven hits and 18 strikeouts in 15.2 innings of work.
And while Minnesota is his number one goal, Hendriks has enjoyed his time with the Red Wings.
“The Red Wings are great,” he said. “We’ve got a great bunch of coaches and they are a lot of fun. I love playing in Rochester. The city has been very welcoming and the fans are always rooting for you. Everyone is so nice to (my fiancee) down here, too, and it’s great when everyone is open and warm to your better half.”
But, he is quick to add, “Rochester is not where I’d like to be. I’d like to be in Minnesota.”
Now, he has his wish to continue his career on an upward trend, making his third big league start and aiming for his goal of getting his first win.
As far as what went wrong the first time, Hendriks admits he may have tried a little too hard. But, now, he is falling back to his own style that got him to the MLB in the first place.
“It’s a lot easier to pick out what you are doing wrong (in the majors). I got up there and I was trying to trick people, which isn’t my game. If I was doing that down here, I would have had the same results. Getting sent down was a reality check.”
A native of Perth, Australia, Hendriks got his start in American baseball after participating in a “national carnival for under 14s, 16s and 18s.” MLB scouts swarm around the under 18s, hoping that the next big thing will be coming from Australia.
“I chose to come out (for the MLB) after high school and it’s worked out so far by getting into a system a little bit earlier,” he said. “I’m only 23, in Triple-A with a big league contract so I can stay up in Minnesota a little bit longer.”
“In Australia,” Hendriks added, “You are playing against guys that have either not been successful playing in America or not gotten the chance. It’s definitely a lot tougher competition here in America.”
Hendriks will be joining a pitching rotation in Minnesota that is led by the play of ex-Wing Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13 ERA), but has mostly struggled due to inconsistent play and injuries. The addition of Carl Pavano to the disabled list is one of the reasons Hendriks even got the call from the Twins.
He is, however, optimistic about his new home, a team that started out rough, but seems to have found their stride in the past few weeks.
“The Twins have gone on an absolute rampage as of late,” said Hendriks. “It’ll be tough to keep up that pace, but if the guys just keep working hard and continue to do their stuff, there is no limit to what we can do to come back.”
Hendriks is hoping his play can help the Twins continue that streak.
“(I’m hoping) to get quality starts time in and time out. What you are looking for in a starting pitcher is just to keep your team in the ball game.”
“You have to realize that this is your work, but it’s also a game,” Hendriks said. “You get to play a game for a living and enjoy while it lasts because you never know when it could be your last.”
Liam Hendriks is hoping his last won’t be any time soon.