PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. – One area where new Twins pitching coach Neil Allen differs from the previous administration is in spring training workload. While Rick Anderson preferred to have his starters peaking near 100 pitches heading into the season, Allen likes to see his starters throwing 100 pitches a week before camp breaks.
"I'm a 100 guy," Allen said. "Let's go. Let's get it stretched out. We've got plenty of time to get it done."
Allen's plan is to have his starters throw 100 pitches in their next-to-last outing before the end of spring training. Then he will throttle back to 75-80 pitches in their final outing.
"I don't want to take all their bullets away from them then," he said.
Phil Hughes is on board with the plan. "I've done that before," the righthander said, "and I think that's what Neil wants to do with everybody."
Alex Meyer is fighting for a roster spot, so he's trying not to appear too cocky. But the Kentucky Wildcats don't make it easy.
"I don't think anybody can beat them. They've played down to their competition a couple of times, but there's such a huge gap between them and everyone else," the Twins righthander said shortly before pitching two innings against the Rays.
"But I'm obviously super-biased."
He is, because he's a Kentucky alum, like fellow Twins minor leaguers Logan Darnell and Taylor Rogers. Meyer was a sophomore when John Calipari was hired, was starring on the Wildcats baseball team when the basketball team made a run to the Final Four in 2011, and showed up to watch Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at a Kentucky-Louisville game during their championship season of 2012.
Meyer is an Indiana native but made Kentucky his favorite team while attending an Indiana-Kentucky football game during his childhood.
"It was right when I started to understand winning and losing. It was a terrible game, but I told my dad, 'That's going to be my favorite team,'" he said. "From a basketball standpoint, it's been fun."
Even if it means being trash-talked by his teammates. Kansan Mike Pelfrey, for instance, "keeps trying to knock them down," Meyer said. "I hear it all the time — a lot of people want them to lose."
But that just makes it more fun, he said.
Start, or minors
Molitor said that like Eddie Rosario, center fielder Aaron Hicks is not likely to make the major league roster if he doesn't win the starting job. "He's young enough where he probably still should be playing on a regular basis," Molitor said.
That likely means either Jordan Schafer or Shane Robinson, if they don't earn the starting job, will make the team as a backup outfielder.
Players Association executive director Tony Clark will be in Fort Myers on Friday to hold the MLBPA's annual union meeting with Twins players. The meeting is expected to cover issues such as baseball's new pace-of-play rules and the possibility of a worldwide draft. The agreement between the union and MLB expires after the 2016 season.
Kyle Gibson has improved in each of his starts this spring, a trend he will try to continue as he faces Pittsburgh in Hammond Stadium. Gerrit Cole will pitch for the Pirates.
Phil Miller and La Velle E. Neal III