JUPITER, FLA. -- Liam Hendriks opened the 2012 season as a rookie in the Twins' rotation. He made four starts before being optioned to Class AAA Rochester in early May. Lefthander Scott Diamond replaced him in the rotation.
Diamond led the Twins by a landslide with 27 starts. Francisco Liriano was next with 17, in a season in which he was both hooked from the rotation and then sent to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Pedro Hernandez and infield Eduardo Escobar.
Hendriks returned to Minnesota a couple of times and made16 starts. Those 43 starts made by Hendriks and Diamond were "prospect'' starts, at least in my jargon.
There were another 49 "desperation'' starts by other Rochester pitchers: Cole De Vries (16), Samuel Deduno (15), P.J. Walters (12) and Esmerling Vasquez (6).
Among the desperados, the most-adequate were De Vries and Deduno. De Vries had a 4.11 ERA and seven quality starts out of 16. Deduno had a 4.44 ERA and eight quality starts among 15.
The biggest discrepancy was in base runners. Deduno's astounding 53 walks caused him to allow 122 base runners in 79 innings. De Vries walked only 18 and his total runners were 106 in 87 2/3 innings.
Walters re-signed with the Twins. He pitched OK before getting hurt and will get something of a look this spring. Vasquez is back in camp more as the incentive required to get him to re-sign with the organization as a pitcher headed for Class AAA Rochester.
Yet, the two desperados with a chance if a couple of the projected starters falter or come up hurt in spring training are De Vries and Deduno. De Vries made his first start and third appearance Monday here against the Cardinals. Deduno had pitched one inning before leaving to join the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.
General Manager Terry Ryan made it clear earlier that Twins were following the MLB rule that teams were not permitted to dissuade players from participating in the WBC. Thus, he Twins had no choice but to go along when Deduno said he wanted to pitch for the Dominicans, even if it lessened the opportunity to watch him and try to do something about his lack of control this month in Fort Myers.
"We're never going to hold anybody back if he wants to play for his country,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We wanted to see Sammy this spring. They say he's going to be the fourth starter for the Dominican, so we can see him if we watch TV, I guess.
"He said he would like to do this. What are you going to do?''
Deduno's absence figures to increase De Vries' chances to be first in line if the Twins go back to the desperados for a starter when the season starts.
De Vries' moments of success in the big leagues were puzzling to we civilians last season. The fastball is below average, the curveball looks loopy, and those are Cole's obvious pitches. DeVries pitched two scoreless, hitless innings against the Cardinals today, striking out two. He got six consecutive outs on 23 pitches.
"I know it's an open position, and I'm looking at it as it's mine to lose,'' DeVries said here in Florida. "I'm going out there trying to prove every day that I want it -- that I'm the guy who can take that spot.''
Gardenhire was asked before the game how it is that De Vries has had some success against big-league hitters.
"He changes speeds and throws it over,'' Gardenhire said. "Those two games he pitched last year in Texas ... that's as good as you're going to see a guy pitch against the Rangers down there.''
There were also a couple of games when De Vries was hammered early, then rebounced to pitch a few good innings.
"He handles it [the bad stuff],'' Gardenhire said. "He's different than most guys. He has his own plan, his own personality. He's confident in himself. He's going to give you what he's got.''
Deduno is going to give what he's got to the Dominicans, which wouldn't have been the case if the Twins were one of those teams that skirted the WBC rules as laid out by the Commissioner's Office. For now, they are left to watch him on TV, if the Dominicans ever get around to Sammy in their rotation.
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