Latest dud could send Pelfrey to Twins bullpen
- Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
- Star Tribune
- May 2, 2014 - 12:47 AM
Mike Pelfrey is embarrassed.
“It’s hard to look these guys in the eye,” he said of his Twins teammates.
The righthander is out of answers as to why the results are so bad in what was supposed to be his bounce-back season after Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2012. Instead, it has been a march to oblivion. He fell to 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA after lasting only four innings during a 9-4 loss to the Dodgers in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader Thursday.
He might be marching to the bullpen, actually, as manager Ron Gardenhire said he will sit down with Pelfrey and pitching coach Rick Anderson to discuss Pelfrey’s future.
But when Gardenhire usually issues the following statement, a change isn’t far behind.
“We’ve got to figure out what we need to do next and where we need to go with that,” Gardenhire said. “Sit down and talk to the pitching coach and the pitcher and everybody involved and see where we go with that because it is not moving fast enough forward. We are going to see what we need to do.”
Pelfrey gave up five earned runs on seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts. Staked to a 2-0 lead after one inning, he gave up three runs in the second and the Twins never recovered.
Pelfrey has walked 18 batters in five starts this year. His last victory at Target Field was April 16, 2013 — a run of 16 home starts without a win.
Pelfrey, signed to a two-year, $11 million contract over the offseason, knows that his spot in the rotation might be slipping away from him.
“I wouldn’t be happy,” he said of being demoted to the bullpen, “but obviously I’m not helping the team starting every five days. I’d accept it, go down there and do the best I can. Try to find some kind of groove and get back into it. Taking the ball every five days isn’t working so far.”
Another concern is Pelfrey’s velocity. He barely topped out at 90 miles per hour Thursday. His fastball averaged 92.4 mph last season but he entered Thursday with it down to 91.0.
“Physically, I feel fine,” he said. Obviously if you look up there and it’s 88, 89, 90, that’s a big difference. I’m not executing pitches. I’m not going to make excuses. I’m falling behind hitters, I’m walking guys and getting hit. It’s unacceptable.”
Deduno in position
Samuel Deduno replaced Pelfrey and pitched four innings with nearly similar results. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Deduno was far from his best, missing his spots by several inches.
But Deduno, who has a 2.89 ERA in seven relief outings, would be the one to move into the rotation if the Twins decide to replace Pelfrey. Deduno threw 62 pitches Thursday and should be able to throw between 75-80 if he’s needed to start.
“Sammy is fine,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got to get into a routine too. We’ll see. We’ll make all of those decisions. We stretched him out pretty good, and we’ll make a decision.”
There were two replay reviews in Game 1, both resulting in overturned calls and both coming at second base. When Jason Kubel slid into second base in the eighth inning, he was called out by umpire Tim Welke even though second baseman Dee Gordon appeared to fumble the throw from shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Gardenhire didn’t wait to challenge, and replays confirmed Gordon never had possession of the ball.
Earlier, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly won a challenge and Brian Dozier was ruled out when umpires looked at replays and decided that Dozier did not beat Ramirez’s throw to Gordon at second in the fifth inning when Trevor Plouffe lined out to short.
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