Guerrier sharp in spring debut
PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. – Add one more relief candidate to the Twins’ bullpen mix. Matt Guerrier, recovering from August surgery to repair a tendon in his right forearm, made his spring debut Tuesday and looked healthy and effective.
“Can he get enough innings? Absolutely,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a reliever, he can still get enough” to earn a spot in the crowded Twins bullpen.
Pitching to the Twins’ Rochester lineup in Fort Myers, Guerrier went one inning and gave up one hit. The next step will be to get the 35-year-old righthander, who posted a 3.38 ERA with the Twins in 393 games from 2004 to ’10, a few innings in regular exhibition games.
Gardenhire said he likes how Guerrier has looked this spring, as he completed his rehab from the surgery. “He’s actually in great shape, his arm feels fantastic,” Gardenhire said. “Now we start the process of getting him innings and getting him up to speed.”
Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing also pitched a scoreless inning in that intrasquad game with Rochester, but Jared Burton wasn’t so fortunate. The veteran righthander gave up five hits, including a double and a home run, three stolen bases and a walk, giving up five runs while retiring only one batter.
Nolasco on track
Ricky Nolasco threw 57 pitches in his second start of the spring Tuesday, and he pronounced himself beyond the arm-strengthening portion of the spring.
The Twins righthander gave up two runs over four innings in a 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay, and said he was focused on refining all of his pitches, rather than just building up his arm. He threw several first-pitch curveballs, “something I’ve got to work on in the spring [because] it’s a big part of my game,” Nolasco said. “It’s kind of tough to do that in two innings. I was able to get guys off balance a little more, rather than just throw fastballs to build arm strength.”
Nolasco gave up an RBI double to Yunel Escobar and a run-scoring single to David DeJesus, but he retired six of the final seven batters he faced, the last four on ground balls.
Taking no chances
Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia had planned to return to action Tuesday, but Gardenhire decided against it.
“I can’t take a chance on them coming here, working out and all of a sudden they feel something” and can’t play, Gardenhire said. “I don’t have enough people for that.”
Tuesday marked one week since either player appeared in the Twins lineup. Arcia suffered what he believes is food poisoning, and Hicks felt tightness in his throwing elbow. But Gardenhire, who said before the game that “we haven’t heard a word” about Hicks’ status, reported after the game that both outfielders went through workouts on Tuesday and have been cleared to return, likely Wednesday.
Kevin Correia, who has yet to surrender a run this spring (including one three-inning start in a B game Friday vs. the Pirates), returns to the mound at Hammond Stadium, again facing his old team. Pittsburgh will start former No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole.