CLEARWATER, FLA. – Around these parts, the road to 95 takes you to Interstate 95 along the eastern coast of Florida.
For Stephen Gonsalves, the road to 95 takes him back to what he once was: A highly touted lefthander out of high school because of a 95-mph fastball.
He lost that velocity, for unexplainable reasons, after he was drafted by the Twins in 2013. His fastball averaged 89.8 miles per hour last season — and he remembers throwing some at 86 and 87. Enter new pitching coach Wes Johnson, who visited him at his home near San Diego and made some mechanical suggestions to add velocity.
"Our project right now is 'The Road To 95,' is what he's been calling it," Gonsalves said. "So we're working on it every day and hopefully it will come."
Gonsalves twice hit 93 mph with his fastball Wednesday during the Twins' 4-2 victory over Philadelphia in a game halted by rain after seven innings. Brent Rooker hit a long, two-run homer in the seventh for the Twins.
Gonsalves gave up one run over two innings on three hits and two strikeouts as he continues to sharpen his delivery and build off Johnson's suggestions.
"He just wanted to introduce himself and said he had a couple of ideas to increase the velo," Gonsalves said. "… I was able to do that [Wednesday] and saw a couple of 93s up there that I was very happy with and an 89-mph slider. As long as there's no more 86 and 87 [mph] fastballs, I'll be happy."
la velle e. neal iii