Hoey needs another pitch besides fastball

  • Updated: March 27, 2011 - 11:44 PM

Righthander Jim Hoey can hit 97 miles per hour on the radar gun, but he needs to develop another pitch to go with his fastball. So he was sent to Class AAA Rochester on Sunday, falling short in the battle with Jeff Manship for a final bullpen spot.

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Twins pitching prospect Jim Hoey (right)

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FORT MYERS, FLA. - Righthander Jim Hoey came to the Twins from the Orioles in the J.J. Hardy deal with the potential to be the power arm to match up against power hitters in the late innings. Although he can hit 97 miles per hour on the radar gun, Hoey needs to develop another pitch to go with his fastball.

So he was sent to Class AAA Rochester on Sunday, falling short in the battle with Jeff Manship for a final bullpen spot.

Hoey was 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 92/3 innings in camp. He also gave up three home runs.

"Hoey needs to slow the ball down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "All he can do is throw hard, hard, harder.

"And on our level, hard, hard, harder normally gets hit, hit, hit."

Hoey has tinkered with a split-finger fastball but has had trouble spotting it.

Hughes falls short

Infielder Luke Hughes looked disappointed as he walked into the trainer's room a little while after learning he would not make the Opening Day roster. The Twins actually summoned outfielder Denard Span to give Hughes a pep talk.

Span played well in the spring before the 2008 season, but the club opted to take Carlos Gomez north, and Span's voice cracked as he spoke to reporters after getting sent down. So Span could relate to Hughes' anguish.

Hughes did have a pretty good spring. A late slump pulled his average down to .246 to go with team highs of six home runs and 15 RBI.

In the end, the Twins felt safer with Matt Tolbert in a utility role because Hughes can't play shortstop.

"Going through the lineup, there might one guy you pinch hit for and that's your shortstop [Alexi Casilla]," Gardenhire said. "So you gotta have a shortstop. Hughes is not ready to do that.

"He's not a shortstop. Matty Tolbert can play shortstop."

Gardenhire also wants Hughes to play. Hughes was limited to 24 games between Class AAA Rochester and the majors because of injuries.

"He needs to go swing," Gardenhire said. "I told him he had a great spring."

Etc.

• The Yankees let Pat Venditte pitch the ninth inning of the Twins' 7-6 victory Sunday. He's a lefthander -- or righthander -- who uses a six-finger glove and has to alert the umpire before at-bats if he intends to switch.

Switch-hitting Aaron Hicks drew a walk against a righthanded Venditte. With a runner on first, Venditte became lefthanded to hold the runner on and got the switch-hitting Tolbert to ground out.

• Steve Liddle, nephew of the Twins third base coach with the same name, had a Wilkin Arias pitch deflect off the bill of his helmet in the fifth but remained in the game.

On deck

Lefthander Francisco Liriano will make his first start of the exhibition season Monday when the Twins play host to Pittsburgh in their Fort Myers finale. Righthander Jeff Karstens will start for the Pirates. The game begins at 12:05 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports North. The Twins will leave for Atlanta after the game, where they will play a two-game exhibition series at Turner Field.

LA VELLE E. NEAL III

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