Twins' Canadian lefty to debut against surging Royals
Albers on tap for series opener
Andrew Albers sounds like a pitcher ready to meet any challenges Kansas City hitters pose in his major league debut Tuesday night.
The left-hander from North Battleford, Sask., gets the start for the visiting Minnesota Twins, who signed Albers after he caught their eye while posting a 1.40 earned-run average as a reliever in the independent Can/Am League for the Quebec Capitales in 2010.
Minnesota recalled Albers from triple-A Rochester on Friday to replace fellow Canadian Scott Diamond in the rotation.
In 22 starts for the Red Wings this season, the 27-year-old Albers had an 11-5 record and led the International League with 116 strikeouts. He also ranked sixth in earned-run average at 2.86.
"From just listening to [Rochester manager] Gene Glynn talk and guys that know him from around here, he’s a competitor, a great guy for the club, a great clubhouse presence," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s official website.
Some Canadian fans will remember Albers pitching three innings (two earned runs, three strikeouts) against Mexico on March 9 at the World Baseball Classic in Arizona.
The six-foot-one, 195-pound southpaw’s journey to the major leagues began in 2008 when the San Diego Padres drafted him out of the University of Kentucky.
Albers made five appearances in rookie league, including two starts, before suffering an elbow injury that eventually required ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery that wiped out the bulk of his 2009 season.
For the next three seasons, Albers toiled in the Can/Am League, Class-A Advanced Florida State League and with double-A New Britain of the Eastern League.
Earlier this season, he participated in the triple-A All-Star Game in Reno, Nevada.
Albers, whom the Milwaukee Brewers drafted in 2004 but failed to sign, will be the 18th Canadian to appear on a major league roster this season.
"He doesn’t have a lot of velocity," Gardenhire said, "but he really knows how to pitch. He can cut the ball in hard and locate the fastball."
Albers will face a Royals team that has won 12 of its last 13 games and climbed back in the playoff race with a 57-52 record, four games back of Cleveland for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Competing against major league hitters at the WBC allowed Albers to realize they’re human.
"You’ve got to come up [to the big leagues] and do what got you here, pound the [strike] zone and throw strikes and be aggressive," he told the Twins’ website.
Kansas City has outscored the opposition 67-25 during its hot streak and boasts a 28-24 record at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals rank eighth in the majors hitting .260 against left-handed pitchers.
Minnesota is 48-61 on the season and 22-34 in road games.
Opposing Albers is veteran right-hander James Shields, who is 6-7 this season with a 3.08 ERA but 3-1, 2.53 over his past five starts.