FORT MYERS, Fla. – Paul Molitor insists he's still not worried. There's still two weeks until the season opens.
But the Twins' manager would feel better if two of his best relievers from 2017 would pitch that way in 2018.
Taylor Rogers gave up three runs and Trevor Hildenberger surrendered three more, and the Rays took advantage of sloppy pitching and defense Friday to rout the Twins 11-1 at Hammond Stadium.
Jose Berrios was hit for three runs, too, but all three were a product of the Twins' defense, which committed three errors and let a fly ball drop in the sunshine for a triple. Berrios struck out four and allowed his first two walks of the spring, and closer Fernando Rodney struck out two of the four hitters he faced.
Rogers and Hildenberger, however, gave up some hard-hit balls; Denard Span tripled off the lefthander, and Johnny Field homered off the sidearmer. It marked the fourth consecutive appearance of allowing runs for each of them — they've given up more runs in the past four outings than they did in the final two months of 2017 — and Molitor said command is to blame.
Hildenberger has been working on his mechanics with coaches Garvin Alston and Eddie Guardado. "'His strike-throwing will be fine. … I'm not as worried about the walks as much as his location on pitches that are getting squared up."
As for Rogers, "I don't think he's very pleased with where he's getting the baseball right now," Molitor said. In part, that's due to Rogers trying to add a changeup to his mix against the righthanders, the manager said.