FORT MYERS, FLA. – There has been some concern about how Twins righthander Trevor Hildenberger has struggled in camp recently. He had given up eight earned runs over his past four outings, which is a head scratcher considering how he was rarely overmatched when called up last year.
But the process is at work here. Hildenberger’s equalizing pitch is his changeup. He can throw it to both lefthanded and righthanded hitters and, when paired with his other pitches, it has made him tough to hit.
But Hildenberger has not thrown the pitch much lately, opting to work on sharpening his slider. That pitch has been coming in flat lately, and he said Sunday that he’s working to give it more depth.
“I always have a good feel for my changeup,” Hildenberger said. “About 95 percent of the time, it is there for me.”
Hildenberger pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Sunday, striking out two, and is expected to work an inning Monday against Pittsburgh.
More roster cuts
The Twins cut six players from camp Sunday, including top prospect Nick Gordon.
Gordon, a shortstop, batted .409 with a double and two triples in 11 games. Twins manager Paul Molitor praised Gordon for his improved hitting over the past year.
Gordon, who could start the season at Class AAA Rochester, likely will play some second base in addition to short. There remain some who feel that Gordon will end up at second, although Molitor feels Gordon could stick at short.
Also cut Sunday were outfielders LeMonte Wade and Nick Buss, catcher Jordan Pacheco and righthanders Miles Jaye and Jake Reed. The Twins now have 40 active players in camp.
Looking for a change
Righthander Jake Odorizzi still is having problems getting the feel for his changeup but still threw four scoreless innings Sunday, lowering his ERA to 0.87.
He did give up two hits and walked three while striking out one. He threw his changeup in situations he normally wouldn’t throw it in, trying to get the feel for it.
Odorizzi pitched the last two innings like it was the regular season, using his curveball more. He’s not worried about finding his changeup.
“I’m kind of a weird person,” Odorizzi said. “Sometimes it doesn’t show up in spring, then the first game of the year it will be there.”
• Righthander Ervin Santana continues to undergo rehabilitation on his right middle finger and hopes that he can start throwing by the end of next week. Santana, who had a calcium deposit removed from the finger shortly before camp started, had the cast taken off two weeks ago. There is still some swelling and he has to get full extension of the finger before he can start playing catch. “It’s getting better every day,” he said. “It was very stiff, but now I’m moving my fingers better.”
• Righthander Lance Lynn pitched four innings in a minor league game Sunday and said he felt fine.
• Eddie Rosario, easing his way back into the field after resting a sore right triceps, played in left field in the same minor league game as Lynn.
Righthander Tyler Duffey was the scheduled starter, but the Twins want Hildenberger and lefthander Taylor Rogers to face some major league hitters. So Rogers, who picked up the save Sunday, will start Monday against Pittsburgh in Bradenton. Hildenberger will follow, then Duffey will enter the game. Righthander Nick Kingham will start for Pittsburgh.
La Velle E. Neal III