Lohse Getting Right In Rochester

A stint with Triple-A Rochester was not the greatest news of the 2006 season for Minnesota Twins right-hander Kyle Lohse. On Friday, Lohse sat down with TwinCitiesDugout.com to discuss his experience thus far with the Red Wings, what it is going to take to get him back to the Major Leagues, and why this is going to help him in the long run.

Time may be limited for Lohse in a Rochester uniform if he continues to pitch as he did in his first outing. On May 20, he pitched a complete game, surrendering one run on four hits while striking out four and accumulated a friendly 1.29 ERA in a victory over Ottawa. It may be only one start, however, it is a sign that he may belong in the Twins rotation after all.

Lohse explained to us that he is in Rochester for one simple fact: to refine his game in order to help out the rotation in Minnesota. Considering he began the season in a Twins uniform going 2-4 with an 8.92 ERA, a successful run with the Red Wings will enable him to return to the big leagues. To this point, Lohse remains confident with the progress he has made in Triple-A.

"Going to the minors is something you never really want to do, but it has helped me refine my pitching," Lohse told TwinCitiesDugout.com.

It's never easy to determine how close a player is to the major league level, especially when they have been there for most of their career. Lohse is unsure when his promotion will come, yet, remains ready to help the big league club when given another opportunity. Possessing one of the highest ERA's in all of baseball, Minnesota may be in need of the 27-year old right-hander sooner than they anticipated.

Since his demotion to the Wings, Lohse has been extremely successful in keeping opposing hitters off-balanced. The effectiveness of his fastball has opened the way for his other pitches, and is the main reason for his improvement. Lohse admits that his fastball has been his best pitch since he joined the club.

"I think my fastball has really been working for me and it has set up all my other pitches," Lohse explained. "When you have two strikes on a batter you have got to put them away."

Rochester manager Stan Cliburn believes Lohse has exhibited a very positive attitude with the ball club despite all of his major league experience. Cliburn would agree that if he remains constant with his current pace, a trip to the Twin Cities will be knocking at the door. The Rochester skipper has been around the game long enough to know when a pitcher is headed back in the right direction.

"He (Lohse) has shown some good velocity on his fastball. One thing he has been doing down here is pitching inside, knocking the hitter off the plate, which has set up all of his breaking pitches. He's on the right track," admitted Cliburn.

As much as Lohse is focused on improving in order to get back to Minnesota, he refuses to make any other changes. He realizes you don't last as long as he has on the Major League level without keeping some form of consistency regarding his preparation and technique. The focus of a pitcher must remain constant and Lohse is no exception. His mentality may have lead to his struggles with the Twins this season and he is content on having his focus and mentality remain unchanged in his drive back to the big leagues.

Many lessons can be learned when a player is sent down to the minors after previously playing at the major league level. It can be something as simple as a reality check or at times be extremely complicated. For Kyle Lohse, working out some kinks in his overall game, which may later help the Twins, is a lesson he has learned since receiving his demotion to the minors.

"Improving myself as a pitcher in all phases will help me get back to the major leagues and help the team win, which is my only focus," said Lohse.

As much as Lohse would enjoy fanning hitters throughout the International League, the opportunity to do just that in the major leagues is obviously a bit more intriguing. When speaking with him, he gave an indication that being in the Minor Leagues isn't all that great, which is only natural for a proven Major Leaguer. The fun is going to come eventually for Lohse, and when it does, Rochester fans may never see him suit up in a Red Wing uniform again.

"You never want to have to come down here but if it's going to help me in the long run than I'm all for it," Lohse explained.

Cliburn expresses that a new environment for Lohse may be what he needs to ultimately get everything turned around.

"I think a change of scenery is all he needs to take a step backwards. That's the approach we're going to take and he'll be back up before too long," said Cliburn.

In any event, a name like Kyle Lohse may draw more fans than usual to Frontier Field, however, I think the organization would sacrifice a few extra ticket sales in Rochester for a healthy and effective Lohse in Minnesota.

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