Sunday Notes: Nolasco, Pelfrey, Pinto And More
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TodayRicky Nolasco Rebounds After Rough First Inning
The fifth start of Nolasco’s spring did not begin the way he would have liked, allowing back-to-back home runs to Adam Jones and Travis Snider to put the Orioles up 3-0 in the first inning
“He tried another curveball on Jones after he had a pretty good swing on the one he fouled back,” Paul Molitor said of Nolasco’s first inning. “I think Ricky misread that foul ball swing as maybe he had him if he threw a better one but he didn’t. He got it. Then Snider, two strikes, he tried to slip a fastball upstairs after throwing some offspeed stuff.”
The right-hander settled down to allow just one more run over the next five innings of work.
“Those are things you are looking for,” Molitor said. “He came back, I think he got the next nine straight. Three clean innings in a row and gave us a chance to get back in the game. So that was really good. He got through six [innings] under his [pitch] count. I was a nice response to kind of a rough first inning.”
“I was just trying to locate and they were definitely hacking so tried to use that to my advantage,” Nolasco said of his outing. “I think they’re ready to get out of here just like we are. Just try not to do too much, when you don’t feel great.”
Nolasco said he threw plenty of changeups, which was a part of his game plan for the day but it also helped that the Orioles hitters were gripping and ripping.
“Those guys were hacking so I think they did me favor of swinging a ton at everything. So once you figure that out you try to take a little bit off the ball and change your approach and try to get themselves out.”
In his final start of the spring, Nolasco said he'll shorten up his pitch count.
Mike Pelfrey’s Bullpen Debut
Pelfrey also made his bullpen debut on Sunday afternoon in a Twins uniform.
Molitor said that either pitching coach Neil Allen or bullpen coach Eddie Guardado will have conversations with Pelfrey and provide suggestions on how to smooth his transition from the rotation to the bullpen. Molitor also reiterated that he would use Pelfrey strictly to start innings until he feels comfortable warming up and entering in the middle of an inning.
“I was worried about how it was going to feel but I felt good and got ready quick. And I think this transition is going to be easier than I thought,” he said after his seven-pitch inning.
Based on his initial outing from the bullpen, Pelfrey seemed prepared, setting down the Orioles one-two-three in the bottom of the seventh. The big right-hander worked out of the stretch and threw his fastball around 92 mph. Overall, Pelfrey said he was happy with the experience.
“It was weird but I got into the game and the phone rang to get ready. You know what was fun is that I had some juices flowing, the heart started pounding and I was thinking ‘man, this is good, this is kind of fun.’”
Moving forward, Pelfrey was asked if he would be open to expanding or contracting his arsenal in the shorter outings. He did not think he would but thought twice.
“Maybe I’ll get into situations using the curveball. That was always kind of a second-time around [pitch] or to a lefty earlier.”
Pelfrey, who said he typically throws 60 pitches to get ready in the pen before a start threw about 10 or 12 pitches before he knew he was loose. The difficult part was the downtime before his time to pitch came but Gaurdado kept the staff entertained. “It’s kind of like comedy hour,” said Pelfrey.
Josmil Pinto Close To Return
Both the catcher and the Twins were hopeful that the projected backup catcher would be available shortly but after failing his last test, he took a follow-up test on Sunday. The Twins were uncertain as to when the results of that test would be available but Pinto was in good spirits and performed all activities are usual in camp.
When asked if he would throw at the Orioles’ Adam Jones -- who had hit Pinto on the helmet three times in one at-bat causing the concussion -- Molitor offered a long pause and then said “No.”
If Pinto is not ready before the regular season, the Twins are monitoring the play of catchers Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer. Molitor mentioned that Herrmann’s defensive abilities needed “tightening up” to improve his receiving and being able to throw out runners. In the first inning, Nolasco buried a pitch that Herrmann took a moment to find before making an offline throw to second in an effort to get the advancing runner. Molitor said that Fryer had the staff’s “confidence” in his defensive skills. As a designated hitter in Sunday’s game, went 1-for-2 with a two-run home run that started the Twins’ scoring.
Asked if Herrmann held an advantage over Fryer because he was on the 40-man roster, Ryan said that it would not play a factor in the final decision.
Prospect Walker Has Power Potential
Twins prospect Adam Brett Walker started in right field for Sunday’s game and found himself sandwiched in the lineup between two of the Twins’ top power sources in Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia.
“I’ve seen Adam enough to know he’s a gifted kid, very athletic,” Molitor said about the 23-year-old outfielder. “Runs well for a big man. He’s got a lot of power. I think he’s learning on how to try to be a little bit of a better hitter.”
Molitor mentioned that Walker needed to cut down on the strikeouts, a fact that seemed evident as he led all of the system with 156 whiffs in 2014. He also pounded 25 home runs -- in the home run suppressing environment of the Florida State League, no less -- and led all of the Twins minor leaguers in that category as well. Baseball America recognized Walker as having the farm’s best power.
WATCH: Adam Walker Takes A Swing Versus The Orioles
Twins general manager Terry Ryan echoed Molitor’s assessment regarding Walker’s power and athleticism but added the rest of his game needed to be refined.
“You look at him physically and you expect to see some raw power out of the man. He has that. It’s just the matter of the rest of his game. He’s athletic. He can run. We’ve had him in the outfield and he’s OK. Now it’s just a matter of firming up the bat, taking good at-bats. He’s certainly a threat.”
Can the big man stay in the outfield or is he a DH-type waiting in the wings?
“He can go get a ball. His range, his ability to cover ground is fine. That bat of his is something we are anxiously awaiting to see how it develops.”