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Updated: May 22nd, 2012 7:56pm
Liam Hendriks solid at Triple-A, but Twins don't think he's ready yet

Liam Hendriks solid at Triple-A, but Twins don't think he's ready yet

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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In need of a starting pitcher to replace the departed Jason Marquis, the Minnesota Twins elected to pass up Liam Hendriks in favor of Cole DeVries, who will make his major league debut on Thursday in Chicago.

Despite an unimpressive track record in the minor leagues -- a career 4.81 ERA at Double-A and 4.35 at Triple-A -- Devries put together a solid two months for Rochester this year, posting a respectable-but-not-spectacular 4.24 ERA with 37 strikeouts and only seven walks issued in 46 2/3 innings.

He'd have to labor pretty hard to pitch as poorly as Marquis did.

But why not Hendriks? The right-hander has allowed only four earned runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking six since his demotion. On the surface it appeared as if he'd earned his chance to rejoin a leaking Twins rotation.

According to Twins decision-makers Hendriks, 23, is still getting away with certain mistakes in Triple-A that major league hitters weren't missing. The Twins want Hendriks to be more aggressive in the strike zone, do a better job pitching ahead in the count and not nibble around the plate.

Hendriks admitted after his third start for the Twins -- seven earned runs allowed in four innings to the Red Sox -- that he got away from his game plan of pumping fastballs, as he did against Texas and Tampa Bay, and instead started nibbling with breaking balls.

"I changed my game plan early on, and I didn't make them change it," he said after the game. "After that long (15-pitch) at-bat to (Adrian) Gonzalez I just started trying to flip some off-speed stuff over there and went away from my strength, which is pounding the zone with fastballs. ...

"I think I just gave the guys too much credit. I was trying to trick them a little bit too much and not play with my strengths of panning the zone."

DeVries will be the Twins' ninth starting pitcher of the season so far when he takes the mound on Thursday. But it appears the Twins are grooming Hendriks to be promoted for good the next time he is summoned.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Liam Hendriks, Jason Marquis
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