FORT MYERS, FLA. – Jose Berrios is waiting to learn where he will pitch in the rotation this season. If you asked him for his preference, he would work out a way to pitch both Opening Day and in one of the two games in Puerto Rico on April 17 and 18.
But that’s not feasible. Twins manager Paul Molitor is close to setting his rotation for the start of the season — it never ends that way — and it looks as if Berrios might be slotted as the third starter, which would allow him to pitch in Hiram Bithorn Stadium against the Indians.
“It would mean a lot,” Berrios said. “We are more closer to that day, so I’m so excited to be available to pitch there in front of my family and friends in Puerto Rico.”
Meanwhile, Berrios pitched five innings on Wednesday during the Twins’ 2-1 win over the Pirates, giving up one run on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He was unhittable at times, and unable to hit the strike zone at others. He needed 22 pitches to get through the first inning, 18 in the third and 20 in the fourth.
Berrios felt he was able to battle through the long innings and keep Pittsburgh from hurting him too much. He finished with 83 pitches, then went to the bullpen and threw some more.
“A couple of walks cost him,” Molitor said. “His stuff was good. There was a little erraticness to it at times. But I thought all of his pitches played. He burned through a lot of pitches through five innings, but it was good to get him extended.”
The Twins tied the game at 1-1 in the first inning on an RBI single by Logan Morrison. They took a 2-1 lead in the second when right fielder Gregory Polanco misplayed Byron Buxton’s fly ball into a three-base error and Jason Castro singled through a pulled-in infield.
Polanco was tormented by the sun in his eyes and a strong breeze blowing from left to right. He missed three catchable fly balls, including one in the third hit by Morrison. He raced to the wall only to see it land about 40 feet in front of him.