Berrios not sweating lack of extension
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jose Berrios watched as two of his teammates — Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco — were rewarded with contract extensions earlier this spring as the Twins locked in important pieces of their core.
But the Twins pitching ace, himself a valuable piece of that core, says he isn’t sweating out an extension of his own. Berrios, who gave up two runs in 3L innings Wednesday in the Twins’ 9-5 exhibition victory over the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, is just going about his work.
“Every player wants to sign a multiyear deal, but we know it’s a business. The Twins’ staff, they manage their business,” Berrios said. “I’m a player, but I’m business for them, so I have to manage my business, too. I have agents that have talked with them already so far. We’re waiting for the best for both sides.”
Just 24, Berrios displays maturity beyond his age and has a strong work ethic to go with it. Last season, the young right-hander posted a 3.84 earned-run average in nearly 200 innings of work and earned his first All-Star Game selection.
He was tabbed the Twins’ Opening Day starter earlier this spring, a goal he said had been on his mind for years. And, unsurprisingly, he has made a strong impression on his new manager, Rocco Baldelli.
“I don’t know how much more motivated a person could be, regardless of what industry they’re in or what they’re doing,” Baldelli said. “He wants to be good and is willing to work to do it. Just knowing that makes you feel really good about what he does on a day-to-day basis.”
So Berrios isn’t worried much about when or if that extension comes, and he said he doesn’t feel any added pressure because of it.
“I’m ready. I’m waiting for that moment. If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year,” he said. “The only thing I have to do is to keep working like I’ve been doing so far.”
Garver OK after HBP
Catcher Mitch Garver is doing well after being hit on the helmet with a pitch in the fourth inning Wednesday, March 13.
“I don’t think anybody can track 95 (mph) all the way in,” he said. “I recognized it was coming at my face. Luckily, I had enough time to turn.”
Baldelli wasted no time taking him out of the game as a precaution. Garver has dealt with concussions in the past, but he said Wednesday’s hit by pitch was nothing close to some of the foul tips he’s taken behind the plate.
“This barely glanced off my helmet, just enough to make my helmet and glasses explode off my head,” the 28-year-old said. “Nothing serious at all.”
Top prospect Royce Lewis finally played in his first game of the spring, a minor league game on the back fields at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, doubling in his first at-bat.
That’s a step forward for the shortstop, who suffered a mild oblique strain right before major league games were supposed to begin and did not get a chance to appear in a Grapefruit League game before being reassigned. The priority for him is maintaining health, Baldelli said, and once he does that, there’s a chance he might make a cameo on the big-league side.
“I know that I’m not alone in being wishful in getting him into a major league game or two and letting him run around with the guys he was in camp with,” Baldelli said.
Buxton homers again
In his first at-bat Wednesday, Byron Buxton hit a home run that sailed over the Green Monster at JetBlue Park. It was his fourth homer of the spring and one of two hits for him in the game. He also doubled to left in the sixth inning.
Buxton is hitting .400 in 25 at-bats with 12 RBIs after beginning his spring on a tear.
“He’s had pretty consistent at-bats,” Baldelli said. “When you hit that many home runs right off the bat, it’s hard for anyone to keep that pace, but I’ve been very pleased with his ABs, and I think we saw some more of that today. When he’s hitting the ball on the barrel, it’s coming off pretty hot. It’s pretty impressive.”