CLEVELAND – Righthander Mike Pelfrey has stopped throwing bullpen sessions between starts in order to take some of the workload off his arm in his first season back from Tommy John elbow surgery.
“The whole idea of not getting on the mound [between starts] was to go out there and feel good,’’ Pelfrey said, “and I’ve felt great the last three starts.’’
Between starts, he does drills from behind the mound to help maintain the command of his pitches. But his command left him Sunday after two innings. Pelfrey gave up just one run on two hits over five innings Sunday but walked a career-high six batters. He won’t get back on the mound between starts but he has to come up with a way to work on his control.
“I’m going to have to do something different,’’ he said.
In his past two starts, Pelfrey’s pitches have looked sharper. He hit 95 miles per hour on the radar gun a handful of times Sunday. At 5-10, 5.06, Pelfrey is trying to finish out the season as strongn without being shut down early.
“My arm felt good,’’ Pelfrey said, “but six walks is embarrassing.’’
First baseman Justin Morneau has been in contact with Joe Mauer since he returned to the Twin Cities Thursday after being diagnosed with concussion symptoms. Indications are that Mauer is doing better but is still dealing with some lingering effects of being hit in the facemask with a foul ball on Monday during a game against the Mets.
“It sounds like [he’s improving],’’ Morneau said. “You never know with these things, though. You can do good, try to do some activates then feel terrible, or you feel good and continue to feel good.’’
Mauer is expected to be at Target Field on Tuesday to meet trainers and doctors, who will determine what the next step will be. There’s no guarantees that Mauer will begin some exercises, and there’s no guarantees that he will be sent home to recover for a few more days.
What’s known is that he will miss the three-game series at home against the Royals this week and probably miss the start of the six-game road trip to Texas and Houston.
“I think that’s why everyone is erring on the side of caution,’’ Morneau said, “because you want him to continue to play as long as he can without being interrupted and being set back for a long time. It’s the right thing to do.’’
Morneau and outfielder Oswaldo Arcia did not start on Sunday. Cleveland had lefthander Scott Kazmir on the mound, and he entered Sunday holding lefthanded hitters to a .211 batting average. So Gardenhire thought it was a good time to give others a chance. For Morneau, Gardenhire saw an opportunity to give him a break.
“He’s been playing a lot of baseball,’’ Gardenhire said.
Morneau entered Sunday’s game as a pinch hitter in the eighth. He reached on a fielding error by Jason Kipnis and remained in the game at first base.