Ron Gardenhire didn't sound particularly alarmed about Kevin Correia's ugly second inning on Monday, shrugging it off as "our starter just had a rough go of it."
But the manager's words were a little more biting, even if he didn't mean for them to sound as ominous as they did. "He's got to throw the ball better than that," Gardenhire said. "He can't be walking people in."
Correia agreed, writing off the three-hit, two-walk, one-hit-batter inning as a fluke, and said, "I don't expect it to happen again."
There's still time, Correia said, asserting that he's been pitching better than his 6.46 ERA suggests. He allowed only one earned run against the Red Sox last week, and he retired eight of the final nine hitters he faced Monday (though the exception was a home run to Miami third baseman Chris Valaika.)
"I have two more [starts] before I start the season. You just want to have that one nice one before you get out there, so you're feeling good about yourself," Correia said. "All in all, I feel pretty good about how my body feels."
Correia, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract in December, said one factor that should help his results is his catcher. Monday's game was the first time he has thrown to Joe Mauer, and the righthander said he is eager to develop a good working relationship with the All-Star. But first, Mauer needs to learn Correia's pitches, his strengths and weaknesses, so he can call the game, and that only happens with time.
"Joe's very smart. As soon as he sees my pitches, we'll be on the same page," Correia said.
-- Speaking of pitchers, Gardenhire announced that Mike Pelfrey will start Wednesday against Tampa Bay, Liam Hendriks will start Thursday in Tampa against the Yankees, Cole De Vries will pitch the second half of that game, and Vance Worley will pitch Friday's home game against the Yankees.
Why double up on the starters Thursday? It looks like the Twins are trying to keep Worley in line to pitch on Opening Day, though Gardenhire insisted that they're not ready to announce who will face Justin Verlander in Target Field on April 1. But I'm guessing a decent outing against the Yankees will make it official.