FORT MYERS, FLA. – Twins righthander Phil Hughes on Saturday threw four scoreless innings in a minor league game.
Big deal. It was against Class A Salem. The bigger questions are if he is healthy, serious about throwing more changeups and ready for the regular season.
Hughes said he was as he prepared to fly back to the Twin Cities on Saturday night.
“You don’t take too much from the results here,” he said. “Overall, I feel good.”
Hughes has said that he wouldn’t pay attention to his velocity until the end of camp. The radar gun Saturday had Hughes’ fastball at 89-91 miles per hour. The 30-year-old, who has topped out at 92 this spring, had been hoping for it to increase a little more, but he is ready to go with whatever he’s got.
“That’s what it has been, 90-91,” Hughes said. “Obviously I’d like for it to be tick higher than that, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Plus you get a little tick once the adrenaline kicks in when the season starts.”
It could be important. Hughes has thrown dozens of changeups this spring as he plans to make the pitch a big part of his repertoire for the first time. When he throws it hard, around 84-85 mph, it stays up in the zone and is a batting practice pitch. When it’s 81-83, it’s down in the zone with good movement and forces missed swings. Hughes has dealt with both of those outcomes this spring.
If his fastball is around 90-91 mph, he will need that changeup to be no higher than 82-83 mph. A variance of at least 8 mph is desired to throw hitters’ timing off.
“It would be good to get it around 10 mph,” he said, “which would be ideal.”
Hughes went 1-7 with a 5.95 ERA in 12 games during an injury-plagued 2016 season for the Twins.
• The Twins were able to reach contract agreements with every player on their roster with zero to three years of major league experience, except one. The Twins were unable to agree to a deal with outfielder Byron Buxton and ended up only renewing his contract for 2017. Historically, teams that do that take off a few thousand dollars off their final offer. If the Twins did that is unknown, but Buxton will get a raise from $512,500 in 2016 to $535,000 this season because that is the new major league minimum.
• Class AAA Rochester righthander Jake Reed, who left Friday’s game vs. the Twins in the ninth inning, has a strained lat muscle and will miss a couple of weeks.
• Rookie lefthander Adalberto Mejia will pitch in a minor league game Sunday, then join the team for Opening Day.