Charlie Barnes and his wife, Sydne Rae, are going through an exciting time in their lives. The couple is in the process of moving into a new house here in Sumter.
However, there is somewhere else Barnes would really like to be right now. Summer …
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However, there is somewhere else Barnes would really like to be right now. Summer camp - with the Minnesota Twins.
Barnes, a left-handed starting pitcher in the Minnesota organization, didn't get placed on the Twins' 60-man "summer camp" roster to prepare for the startup of Major League Baseball's abbreviated 60-game season at the end of the month.
"It's obviously disappointing," said Barnes, who was a non-roster invitee to the Twins' big league camp when spring training came to a screeching halt in the middle of March due to the coronavirus pandemic. "They said it came down to me and a few others. They said it was very close. There were times where I would be on the "taxi squad" and times I would be off of it. I did all I could do to make sure I was ready. It was out of my control, and I've just stayed ready."
Minnesota announced a roster with 59 players on it, one short of the maximum. According to Barnes, the Twins have their major league roster training in Minneapolis with the remainder training in the "twin" city of St. Paul.
"They decided they were going with a little older taxi squad," said the 24-year-old Barnes, who was a fourth-round pick of the Twins out of Clemson in in the 2017 MLB draft. "They decided to go with guys who were former big leaguers or were in Triple-A last year."
Barnes, who helped pitch Sumter High School to a 4A state title, was in Triple-A last year, but for a limited time. He pitched four times for Rochester, all of them starts. Barnes also pitched in advanced Single-A as well as Double-A, having a combined 7-8 win-loss record with a 4.88 earned run average in 131 innings.
Just because he didn't get the initial invite doesn't mean a trip to Minnesota is out of the question for Barnes.
"They told me to get ready, to prepare," Barnes said. "I could be one of the guys they call up if there is an injury or someone gets hurt."
Trying to be ready for whatever may come is what Barnes has been doing since being sent home from spring training. He said the organization's pitching coaching staff met with him and they came up with a pitching regiment for him. Barnes said the organization has been checking in with him on a weekly basis.
"I throw every day," Barnes said. "I work out a couple of times a week. It's been difficult because I've been having to do a lot of the workouts from home."
Barnes said he was throwing and working out some with Jordan Montgomery, the "grizzled" 27-year-old fellow lefty before he left for summer camp and a spot on the New York Yankees' big league roster.
"We were trying to stay on the same path," Barnes said. "It had been a couple of years since we had worked out together. We would try and get together as much as we could."
Barnes didn't know if he would have had a chance at making the Twins' season-opening big league roster as a non-roster like Montgomery did with the Yankees in 2017, but he was happy with the way he was performing when the shutdown came.
"I felt like I was throwing the ball well," he said. "I had a really good outing a couple of days before the shutdown. It was cool being in a big league clubhouse, to get up there and see everything that is going on."
Barnes admits he had an "in-awe" moment while pitching his first batting practice in spring training with Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson standing at the plate accepting his offerings.
"That was really cool," Barnes said. "Also, they are really nice guys and they are trying to help the young guys out."
Barnes admits to frustration over a season where minor league baseball was canceled, thus limiting the possibility of him proving himself to be worthy of a promotion to Minnesota. However, he is not dwelling on that. Instead, he is doing his best to be ready for the next step, whatever it may be and whenever it may come.
"I'm definitely disappointed just not getting to play baseball," Barnes said. "It's out of my hands though. I like to try and control what I can. They (in the organization) have a saying, 'Control the controllables.' So I'm just doing what I can to stay ready if I get a call this year. If not, I want to be ready for next year."
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