Restovich in 'The Show'
He returns to start in right field tonight, Twins manager says
By Guy N. Limbeck
Michael Restovich is back in ''The Show.''
He's returned to the major leagues, and he's expected to play tonight.
The Minnesota Twins recalled the Rochester native from their Triple-A farm club on Monday. Restovich was batting .267 with 16 homers and 65 RBIs in 409 at-bats for the Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings.
The 24-year-old will take the place of first baseman Justin Morneau, who was optioned to the Red Wings of the International League.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan made the decision after a lengthy phone conversation with Rochester Red Wings manager Phil Roof.
''He's been doing pretty good the last couple of weeks,'' Ryan said of Restovich. ''He's certainly a threat at the plate. He's got power. He's been more consistent. But we're looking for him to improve on his quality of at-bats.''
Last September, Restovich, a 1997 Mayo graduate, was a late-season call-up by the Twins. He made his major league debut on Sept. 18 in Detroit and at the Metrodome on Sept. 24. Then, hundreds of people from Rochester and the surrounding area made a trip to the Metrodome to witness the event.
Many Restovich fans are expected at the Metrodome today when the Twins play host to the Baltimore Orioles at 7:05 p.m.
"The Restovich news has everyone buzzing," said Jeff Milene, the manager of the Rochester Royals and a former amateur baseball teammate of Restovich.
And some of his most loyal fans had to change plans at the last minute. Herb and Marie Espinda, Tom and Marilyn Theismann, and Barb and Steve Milburn were preparing for a trip out East to watch Restovich play when they got the news he had been called up.
Keith and Jan Larson had just returned from an eight-day trip to Memphis and New York to watch Restovich play. Dale Massey, who coached Restovich for one varsity season at Mayo, had been planning a trip to New York in mid-August.
"I'll have to change those plans," Massey said.
"I'm going to try and go up tomorrow (Tuesday) night," Massey added. "I think he'll be in the lineup."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Restovich will play right field tonight. Shannon Stewart will move to left to replace Jacque Jones, who has been battling a groin injury.
When the Twins were pondering sending down Morneau, they were considering adding another pitcher. But with Jones' injury, the Twins have just four healthy outfielders, so Restovich got the call.
"We're a little thin on pitching, but there's no one ready down there, so Michael Restovich was the best player available right now," Gardenhire said in St. Cloud, where he watching his son Toby, a Rochester Honkers infielder, play the the St. Cloud River Bats.
"Resto is going to get in there and play right now. I have to have him out there. He's going to get a chance to get a lot of swings.
"He's still chasing a lot of pitches out of the strike zone, but the kid can play and he can drive the ball really well."
Although the Twins are struggling to stay in the American League Central Division race, Gardenhire said Restovich shouldn't feel pressure. Last year's division winners are currently 51-53 and 61⁄2; games behind Kansas City in the Central.
"I just want Resto to relax. I don't want him to try to carry the team. I just want him to be part of the team. He's doesn't have to carry anything. He just has to play the game, have some fun and do his part and everybody else do their part, and we'll be all right."
The Twins have 58 games remaining this season. While they look to get back into playoff contention, Restovich now has a chance to prove he belongs in the big leagues. A year ago with the Twins he hit .308 (4-for-13) in eight games with a homer and one RBI.
"It's nice to see," Milene said of Restovich joining the Twins. "The 40-man call-up at the end of the year is different than being called up in the middle of the (division) race."
"That's what everyone is hoping when they get called up from Triple-A, that they never go back."
Troy Young, on assignment in St. Cloud, contributed to this article.