Q&A with Twins Rookie Reliever Caleb Thielbar

Two summers ago, Caleb Thielbar was pitching in Midway Stadium for the Saints in the netherworld of independent baseball; today he’s establishing himself as a major leaguer at Target Field. So far, the reliever’s unlikely emergence has been the feel good story of 2013.

Drafted in the 18th round by Milwaukee in 2009, the Northfield native toiled in the Brewers system for two seasons and was released. That led to his detour to St. Paul, where he caught the eye of Twins scouts, was signed and sent to Fort Myers in 2011.

The former Randolph High School star shot up the Twins minor league ladder quickly, ending 2012 at Triple A Rochester and was added to the 40-man roster. He began 2013 with the Red Wings and was promoted to Minnesota on May 20 where, in 10 appearances (11 2/3 innings), the 26-year-old has not allowed an earned run. Theilbar and I hooked up for a quick chat last week during the Phillies series.

DZ: You’ve been in the big leagues for about three weeks now. How has it gone for you, what are your impressions?

THIELBAR: It’s gone pretty well. I am just trying to stay consistent, stay in a routine and get out there and throw strikes every time out. Haven’t been doing that the last couple of times, but as long as I keep going out there and get giving a good effort and work on my mechanics in the time in between, it will straighten out.

DZ: How long does it take…to get rid of the jitters and the awe of, “I am in the big leagues now”?

THIELBAR: That just takes about one outing. The first one you really feel that, I felt it at every level in the minor leagues too.

DZ: Two years ago you were pitching for the Saints, this year you are with the Twins; did you think about the big leagues when you were in independent ball? What was your mindset back then?

THIELBAR: Obviously it’s still a goal. I wasn’t planning on playing independent ball the rest of my career. There were some really good pitchers on that team and a couple of them told me that I had the potential to pitch (in the big leagues). It was a matter of getting the right opportunity and pitching well when I got that opportunity.

DZ: How far away do the two stadiums (Midway and Target Field) seem?

THIELBAR: It happened so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was pitching (for the Saints).

DZ: Is there any stadium you are excited to visit or already have since you’ve been up?

THIELBAR: I think Yankee Stadium would be really cool. I went to the old one as a fan about five or six years ago. To actually play there would be pretty cool.

DZ: You were born in Northfield and grew up in Minnesota; did you go to the Metrodome a lot (growing up)?

THIELBAR: Yeah, quite a bit. About five times a year or so. We didn’t have season tickets or anything, but we were up there quite a bit.

DZ: It must have been the late 90s when you started (really getting into it)….

THIELBAR: I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember, but that was when I really started paying attention and was able to understand about it.

DZ: They didn’t have the greatest teams back then.

THIELBAR: Those were some tough years.

DZ: Who were your favorite players?

THIELBAR: I was a big fan of Johan, Brad Radke and Torii Hunter; those guys from the late 90s, early 2000s teams.

DZ: You are not really that far removed from (that era).

THIELBAR: Yeah, some of them are still in the league.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:

June 12: Justin Morneau
April 23: Jared Burton
April 19: Ryan Pressly
April 16: Brendan Harris

2 Responses to “Q&A with Twins Rookie Reliever Caleb Thielbar”

  1. MinnesotaSCORE » Twins Third Baseman Trevor Plouffe Unfiltered Says:

    […] 19: Caleb Thielbar June 12: Justin Morneau April 23: Jared Burton April 19: Ryan Pressly April 16: Brendan Harris […]

  2. MinnesotaSCORE » Q&A with Twins Outfielder Alex Presley Says:

    […] 22: Glen Perkins July 9: Josh Roenicke July 2: Trevor Plouffe June 19: Caleb Thielbar June 12: Justin Morneau April 23: Jared Burton April 19: Ryan Pressly April 16: Brendan Harris […]

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