Q&A with Bobby Keppel

As the 2009 season nears its midpoint, the Twins bullpen is still a work in progress.  Luis Ayala, Jesse Crain, Craig Breslow and Sean Henn, among others were given a shot to stick, but were sent packing.  27-year-old Bobby Keppel is the latest to audition for a role and so far, he’s knocked ‘em dead, sporting a spotless 0.00 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.

I caught up with the tall righthander earlier this week in an attempt to get to know him better:

DZ: Could you just talk about your career and how you ended up here – a quick overview?

KEPPEL: This is my 5th team in the last 5 years; I was drafted by the Mets in 2000, had surgery in ’05, got taken off the (40-man) roster, got picked up by the Kansas City Royals in ’06 – got to the big leagues there for about a month and a half – the Rockies picked me up in ’07 – spent 10 days in the big leagues there – (spent) ’08 with the Marlins (organization) and now – this offseason – the Twins called and I signed a minor league deal and now I am here. So, that’s your timeline.

DZ: The Twins are known to be Triple A friendly – they go to Triple A when they need help when some other teams maybe don’t – did that factor into your decision to sign here?

KEPPEL: Not really. The No. 1 deal for me was having a team that was interested in bringing me to big league camp…My numbers last year were not that good with Albuquerque in the Marlins organization (9-11, 5.99 ERA), so the interest was low for me – I felt like and they came around – called – they liked me back in ’05, ’06 when I was with the Mets and they were happy to get me in ’09. I heard that they were very good at the way the treated their Triple A guys – I did hear that afterword, but it was just a team that was interested in me, that’s why I signed.

DZ: This is kind of a cheesy question, but what do you bring to the club?

KEPPEL: (laughs) I bring a rookie presence; I keep my mouth shut, I work hard and when they call upon me I try to get guys out.

DZ: As far as pitching goes, what are your strengths?

KEPPEL: I am a sinker/slider pitcher able to go one or two innings if they need me. If they need a spot start, I can do that too. I think I am pretty versatile when it comes to what I can offer as a pitcher.

DZ: Right after you got called up (on June 23), you were fortunate enough to go to St. Louis – your hometown – I read that the first time you got there with Kansas City (in ’06), it didn’t go so well.

KEPPEL: Yeah. The day I got there, I didn’t have a hotel room at midnight when we got in from Cincinnati so I knew something was going down.  The next day I got to the ballpark, got a tap on the shoulder and they said “Hey, you’re going down to Triple A”, so the first day I ever get to St. Louis to play against the Cardinals, I got sent down. That’s probably not the best way to go.

DZ: Where did you sleep that night?

KEPPEL: I had to pay for my own room at the hotel – they reimbursed me, but just weren’t prepared. Maybe they thought I was staying at home, who knows?

DZ: This year it went better, how many (friend and family) did you have there?

KEPPEL: Over the course of time, probably 50 tickets.

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

July 8: Denard Span

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