DETROIT -- Right-handed reliever Juan Rincon is calling it a "brand new start." He certainly could use one after what he went through with the Twins the last two years. Rincon went from dominant to demoted in a hurry. After putting together a 2.93 ERA between 2003 and 2006, he had a 5.44 ERA in 2007 and '08 before the Twins cut him on June 12. A month later, he's back in the big leagues. The Indians, who signed him to a Minor League contract late last month, bought his contract from Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday to fill the roster spot vacated by CC Sabathia and round out their struggling bullpen.
"Sometimes a change of scenery is good [for a player]," manager Eric Wedge said. "There's reason to believe he's going to have the same velocity and life on his pitches as he had before." The Indians, apparently, aren't caught up in the numbers. Rincon had a 6.75 ERA in four appearances with Buffalo. He gave up seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. When the 29-year-old Rincon was signed, Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Luis Isaac believed they had found a mechanical flaw in Rincon's delivery that could be fixed. The numbers aside, Rincon believes the tweak has helped. "My last time out [Monday], I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes," he said. "That's a huge comeback. The last time I pitched in a big league game was a month ago, and when you don't pitch for a week to 10 days [before signing with the Tribe], it's tough. So I'm pleased to be back." Rincon, who was suspended 10 games in 2005 for testing positive for the use of performance-enhancing substances, didn't sound pleased with the way the Twins used him this year, saying he didn't get to pitch in many "meaningful" games. But he didn't want to put too much attention on that. "I don't want to create a story," he said. "Nobody threw the ball for me. I'm the one who pitches." With the Indians looking for any help they can get in the bullpen, he'll get a chance to pitch. It's a "brand new start" that Wedge hopes Rincon will make the most of. "We've seen him so good at times," Wedge said. "We're hoping to get him back to that."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.