CHICAGO - Homer Bailey at least got his work in.
The veteran righthander didn’t have the greatest line on Wednesday in a 4-3 exhibition loss after Cubs hitters barreled a few of his pitches up,
Anthony Rizzo blasted a two-run home run to right in the first inning on a split-fingered fastball throw belt high and over the plate. Three batters later, Wilson Contreras took a Bailey fastball to the opposite field for a solo home run and a 3-0 Cubs lead.
Bailey recovered to toss a scoreless second inning, but Contreras struck again in the third inning, driving a Bailey fastball over the center field all, a blast measured by Statcast at 444 feet.
That ended up being Bailey’s final inning. He gave up four runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He was replaced by Tyler Clippard.
“Had a few that I kind of left up in the zone,” Bailey said. “It’s not hard to tell which ones they were, but consistently looked like [command] was slowly getting there.”
The Twins scored on a passed ball, wild pitch and force out — real exciting stuff. The game ended with Nelson Cruz flying out to the warning track with a man on in the ninth.
Mitch Garver led off against Cubs lefthander John Lester, a reminder that Twins manager Rocco Baldelli used him in that role 25 times. And Garver made the most it, hitting 12 homers with a .706 slugging percentage.
Baldelli likes to keep his roster thoughts to himself, but he has several options for a leadoff hitter when some teams have trouble finding one hitter capable of starting things off.
Max Kepler will likely return to the leadoff role this season after batting in the spot 105 times last season. What Baldelli has to factor in is if he should mix in Luiz Arraez, who had a .399 on base percentage last season, as well as Garver against lefties.
And Jorge Polanco could also bat leadoff if needed.
“We have guys that could fit in nicely almost anywhere you put them,” Baldelli said. “We can talk about strategy and we can talk about lineups and balance, and even balancing traits of hitters as opposed to just left-right balance. There are a lot of really interesting ways to get into it.”