FORT MYERS, Fla. – He used a 91-miles-per-hour fastball to retire Bryce Harper, and a 79-mph curve to get Jayson Werth. Not a bad major league debut.
“I’ll tell you what, those are some intimidating boys,” he says of that memorable inning last June against the Nationals. “Werth really fills up a batter’s box. And Harper’s Harper.”
Yes, J.B. Shuck loves that he has major league pitching experience — and he’s hoping he will get plenty more. But that must wait. His current focus is making the Twins as an outfielder.
“Pitching is always there. It’s a possibility I’ll look into when hitting doesn’t work out anymore,” said the 29-year-old Shuck, who has nearly 1,100 plate appearances as an outfielder. “I loved pitching. I will try it someday, if I get the chance.”
Shuck pitched for three seasons at Ohio State, where in 2008 he was a teammate of Alex Wimmers and Drew Rucinski. Shuck won 17 games over three seasons for the Buckeyes, while Wimmers, a Twins first-round pick in 2010, won 18 and Rucinski 22. Now all three are competing to make the Twins roster.
Scouts were split on whether Shuck would be drafted as a pitcher or a hitter. The Astros grabbed him in the sixth round in 2008 and told him to put away his pitcher’s mitt. “I said, ‘That’s fine,’ ” he said. “But I always wanted to get into a game as a pitcher.”
His chance finally came last June 8 with the White Sox, when starter James Shields was knocked out in the second inning. Manager Robin Ventura alerted his backup outfielder that the bullpen was shorthanded and he might be needed.
He was, in the ninth inning, trailing 10-0. The Nationals were surprised that, unlike most position players, Shuck could throw 90 mph and had a decent curve and changeup. Danny Espinosa led off with a double, but then Shuck retired Ben Revere, Werth and Harper on groundouts. Thirteen pitches, eight strikes, and though Espinosa scored, Shuck rated it as “a blast.”
The Twins have signed former Gophers and Mounds View pitcher Seth Rosin to a minor league contract.
Rosin, a fourth-round pick of the Giants in 2010, spent last season in the Padres organization. The 28-year-old righthander pitched in three games for the Rangers in 2014 and one for the Phillies in 2015.
2016 stats: .254 average and two homers in 63 at-bats, mostly as a pinch hitter, for the Giants.
Acquired: Signed minor league contract Dec. 17.
Role: Competing for job as utility infielder; he can play second base, third base or shortstop.
Did you know: Ehire (pronounced AY-ray) Adrianza is the nephew of former White Sox shortstop and manager Ozzie Guillen. He was with the Brewers for one week earlier this month, after being claimed off waivers by Milwaukee, then was waived again days later.
PHIL MILLER and La VELLE E. NEAL III