FORT MYERS, FLA. – Kenta Maeda has pitched in relief in 21 postseason games, has racked up 22 bullpen innings and has given up only one home run. It was a big one, though — a three-run shot by Jose Altuve that tied up Game 5 of the 2017 World Series in Houston.
Hmm, Altuve? Given recent revelations, that seems a little fishy, doesn’t it?
Not to Maeda, though. The new Twins pitcher said Friday that he still blames himself for a bad pitch, not any cheating on the part of his opponents. For now.
“I’m not even sure 100 percent if he knew the signs, if he knew my pitch. But I’m not really frustrated,” Maeda said through interpreter Daichi Sekizaki shortly after completing his first bullpen session of Twins camp. “Altuve is a good hitter. If I knew for sure Altuve knew my pitch, then I would have been bothered, frustrated. But I don’t know for sure, so I can’t really say.”
Still, he admitted to wondering about how the sign stealing might have affected the World Series, which Houston won in seven games. Not when he was pitching — Maeda posted a 1.59 ERA in four appearances, giving up only four singles and Altuve’s homer — but on the part of a teammate and countryman.
“Yu Darvish, he usually doesn’t give up that many hits,” Maeda said of the Japanese star, who gave up nine hits and nine runs while recording only 10 outs in two World Series starts. “Now that this news came out, it makes sense. And he didn’t get any strikeouts, so that’s very unlikely.”
Mostly, though, Maeda said, he’s moved on. “It is a little frustrating because the Dodgers had a chance to win the whole thing,” he said. “But then again, it is in the past and right now, what I can do is to contribute to the Twins winning the World Series.”
• Maeda’s session, its every move recorded by a horde of Japanese cameras, was a successful first outing, according to catcher Mitch Garver. “His fastball looked good. His changeups is more of a split, kind of a split-changeup. It had good depth to it,” Garver said. “The curveball is more of a 12-6 [break], and also has good depth. And the slider was hard. It came out of his hand like a fastball.”
• The Twins didn’t just take Jake Odorizzi’s advice and acquire a force-plate mound, they hired his tutor as well. Randy Sullivan, who introduced Odorizzi to the high-tech pitch-analysis instrument this winter, is in camp as a consultant. “He’s not only showing us [the equipment] but also helping us decipher the data,” GM Thad Levine said. “He’s been giving some nice talks to our coaching staff. A few of those have already taken place.”
Gilberto Celestino, OF
Age: Turned 21 on Thursday
2019 stats: Batted .277 with 28 doubles and 10 home runs at Class A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. Drew 50 walks in 125 games.
Acquired: In a trade with Houston, along with RHP Jorge Alcala, for Ryan Pressly on July 27, 2018.
Role: Probably headed to Class AA Pensacola this season, he’s part of Twins’ considerable outfield depth.
Did you know? Celestino, the top defensive center field prospect in the Twins system, was batting .178 a month into the 2019 season, but he changed his swing, began hitting with authority and earned a promotion to the 40-man roster by season’s end.