Seven years ago, it probably didn’t seem too far-fetched, the idea of Trevor May returning to Safeco Field someday as a big league pitcher.
He was a 6-foot-5 flame-throwing right-hander with major league potential back then, popping 90 mph fastballs past Meadowdale batters in the semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament.
The 2008 Kelso graduate struck out 12 and allowed just three hits as the Hilanders claimed a 5-1 victory on the Seattle Mariners’ home field that late spring day. Not long after that, the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the fourth round of the MLB amateur draft.
Two franchises, eight teams and 832 innings later, May is set to return with the Minnesota Twins this weekend. He’ll start opposite Mariners lefty James Paxton at 6:10 p.m. Saturday.
“That will be a cool moment,” May said in a phone interview Thursday, “just running out there to start, take it in and think about going from then to now and how much has happened since.”
It’s also a moment May wasn’t even sure would come this year.
After a two-month stint with the Twins last summer, he lost a five-man battle for the fifth spot in Minnesota’s starting rotation during spring training and was sent down to Triple-A Rochester to start the season.
With the Twins’ annual trip to Seattle set for the last weekend in April, it appeared his goal of coming back to Safeco would have to wait at least one more year. Once starter Ricky Nolasco was sent to the disabled list with a sore elbow April 10, however, May got another shot at the show.
And he’s made the most of it in his two starts, posting a 4.76 earned-run average with eight strikeouts, 12 hits and just one walk in 11 1/3 innings. That included a six-inning outing his last time out in which he struck out four, walked one and allowed only one run in a 7-2 Twins win over Cleveland.
“I think we picked up where we left off last year, me and (Twins catcher Kurt) Suzuki and just kind of learning what works for us,” said May, 1-1 so far this season following last year’s 3-6 showing. “I’m just trying to throw in a way that gets our team wins and become part of the winning atmosphere that we’re trying to build here and keep my hat in the ring.”
Nothing is guaranteed for May, not even another start after Saturday.
Nolasco is set to return from the disabled list this weekend. There’s a chance May will be sent back down to Rochester once that happens.
All May can control is what he does the next time he takes the hill and hope for the best. That it will happen in front of friends and family in the city he’s called his offseason home for the past five years makes it that much more special.
“More so than any start thus far in the big leagues, (this) will make it seem the most real, being able to be in front of my friends and family,” May said. “For the first time I’ll have my offseason life and my in-season life kind of converge. That will be a cool thing.”
Pitch well enough, and it just might become a regular thing, too.