Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Hendriks had his reason, but Gardenhire not so sure

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: March 15, 2013 - 9:43 PM

Liam Hendriks, after giving up five hits and three runs in four innings, explained that, though he felt his offspeed pitches were working well, "I didn't throw all that much of it because [Red Sox hitters] were late on all the fastballs, so I didn't want to speed up their bats."

Well, at least he had a reason. But when his manager critiqued Hendriks' outing, he mentioned that same factor. And it didn't sound like Ron Gardenhire was buying Hendriks' logic.

"Hendriks threw the ball good, but didn't really change his speeds much. All fastballs tonight," Gardenhire said. "There really weren't many spinners in there, changeups, nothing. I mean, it's pretty impressive that you can throw all fastballs, but it doesn't really work. You've got to mix in your other stuff. We noticed that quite a bit."

Especially since, as Gardenhire pointed out, with a diet of nothing but fastballs, Boston hitters were able to jump on any pitch that got too much of the strike zone -- like, say, the 88-mph sinker-that-didn't that Hendriks threw to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. That one left jetBlue Park in a hurry, high and far beyond the right-field fence.

"Made one mistake to Salty and he killed it," Gardenhire shrugged.

Hendriks was delighted with what he saw as real progress with his control on Friday, but he's running out of time to make his case for a rotation spot. Cole De Vries and P.J. Walters haven't allowed an earned run all spring, so he seems to be in danger of a trip to Rochester if things don't change in a hurry.

-- The manager also said he was glad lefthander Pedro Hernandez had a scoreless three-inning outing on Friday, since he has pitched only seven innings all spring. That's not much for a guy who may end up in the starting rotation at Triple-A, if he doesn't earn a spot in the Twins' bullpen.

"That's the first extended [look] that we've got him because of all the pitching we had," Gardenhire said of Hernandez, acquired from the White Sox as part of the Francisco Liriano trade last July. "You know, you pick a guy up in a trade and you don't really get a chance to see him. I looked at him anyway, saw some bullpen sessions early, so we're trying to look at him. Stretch him out a little, trying to take care of the kid."

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