JUPITER, FLA. – The pitch-speed scoreboard wasn’t working on Monday, so Cole De Vries had to estimate how fast he was throwing.
“Maybe 98 [mph],” the breaking-ball specialist deadpanned, “and topping out at 102.”
The Cardinals sure couldn’t prove otherwise. De Vries retired all six hitters he faced in his first start of the spring; he’s now allowed one base runner in four innings of work and believes he is on track to retain his spot in the Twins’ rotation.
“I’m looking at it as it’s mine to lose,” said De Vries, who went 5-5 with the Twins last year. “I’m going out there trying to prove every day that I want it, and I’m the guy who can take that last spot.”
If he does it, it will be by mixing up his breaking pitches and keeping hitters off-balance, like he did Monday. “He made it look easy,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins have a few pitchers who can hit the mid-90s and higher, and he used a couple of them against St. Louis. Alex Meyer, acquired for Denard Span in November, pitched in a Twins game for the first time, allowing a pair of walks in two hitless innings, and Michael Tonkin pitched his third hitless inning of the spring.
Meyer “got out of whack there, overthrew, but you can see with that kind of stuff — you can tell by the hitters having to hurry up [their swing] to try to get there,” Gardenhire said. “Tonkin at the end there, he’s winging it, the ball’s moving. You can just see it’s such a heavy ball. They get a little over-amped. They’ve got to back off a little bit and throw it over the plate. That’s what you get with power [pitchers], though. Fun to watch.”
• Kevin Correia has returned to Fort Myers following the birth last Friday of his third son. Correia is scheduled to make his next start at home Thursday against the Red Sox.
• Infielder Deibinson Romero’s arrival from the Dominican Republic is still being delayed by red tape. General Manager Terry Ryan said the Twins have no idea when Romero will be cleared to travel. “We’re sending [coach and former catcher] Phil Roof down there,” Gardenhire joked. “He’ll get him out — no one will mess with those big paws.”
• The Twins’ minor league camp opened Monday, but Gardenhire said he won’t make any cuts until minor league games begin this weekend. The Twins, who have 13 players taking part in the World Baseball Classic, have split-squad games Thursday, so they need their entire roster.
• Teenage prospect Miguel Sano will be invited to take part in a Twins game or two late this month, Gardenhire said.
• Oswaldo Arcia — “one of my favorite players in this organization,” Gardenhire said — insists he is ready to play, but the Twins are being cautious with his intercostal strain and will rest him a few more days.
Liam Hendriks takes the mound against Mike Moore and the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium.