When it finally happens, J.T. Chargois hopes someone snaps a good photo of him.
“I guess it’s a cool thing,” the Twins reliever said. “It would be neat to have my picture with ‘100’ in the background.”
For now, he will have to settle for a 99 on the scoreboard pitch-velocity readings, but he’s getting awfully close. Chargois, a second-round pick in 2012, hit 99 miles per hour three times during Thursday night’s loss to Detroit, according to MLB’s StatCast system, which was installed in 2008. In fact, a fastball to Tyler Collins registered 99.50 mph, the second-fastest pitch thrown by a Twins pitcher in that time.
Only Juan Morillo’s 100.3 mph fastball on April 27, 2009, was faster. Morillo, J.R. Graham and Ryan Pressly were the only Twins to reach 99 mph before Chargois’ big inning Thursday.
The reason for the extra velocity? “I think it was having four days off, as opposed to pitching six times in 10 days,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m pitching a lot more often now, so I’m not as fresh. The rest helped a lot.”
His manager noticed, too. “Last night was probably as live a fastball as we’ve seen him have, and he was throwing it over,” Paul Molitor said. “It gives him opportunities to not have his slider and changeup be critical in terms of command. Because when he gets ahead with that velocity, he gets swings.”
Molitor said he has noticed an increase in Chargois’ confidence that matches his velocity. His debut was a five-run disaster vs. Boston in June, but he has given up only one run on three hits over nine innings of work, striking out eight. The run came Friday, when Chargois’ only pitch was hit for a double by Nelson Cruz in Seattle’s four-run seventh.
NDSU on the radar
The Twins have held preliminary talks “with multiple schools,” including North Dakota State, about holding a college football game at Target Field, team President Dave St. Peter said.
“A lot of things would have to fall into place, but we think college football would play well here,” St. Peter said, in confirming an online report from the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. “A brand like NDSU, we know they travel well, and that’s would it would require — that or a unique regional matchup that would make sense for us.”
St. Peter said Target Field’s 40,000 capacity, as opposed to bigger stadiums being used by the Vikings and Gophers, might appeal to schools interested in playing in the Twin Cities, “but it’s just in the dialogue stage right now. It would be years in the future.” NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen told the Forum that the chance of scheduling such a game “is about 50-50,” and “that sounds about right to us,” St. Peter said.
• Max Kepler felt only slight pain in his sore neck Friday, so the right fielder was cleared to play, although Molitor kept him out of the lineup anyway. Kepler, injured Thursday when he ran headlong into the padded wall along the right-field foul line, could return on Saturday.
• The Twins will stick with their current five-pitcher rotation on their season-ending road trip to Kansas City and Chicago, Molitor said, with one potential alteration: He will give Ervin Santana the option of skipping his final start, which would fall Wednesday vs. the Royals. It’s a gesture of respect for the veteran righthander, Molitor said.