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Updated: June 15th, 2012 7:09pm
Notebook: Hendriks 'was pretty much losing it' for himself in April

Notebook: Hendriks 'was pretty much losing it' for himself in April

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After dominating in his last two starts for Triple-A Rochester, right-hander Liam Hendriks will make his return to the major leagues on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hendriks -- still in search of his first major league win -- is one of the more cerebral 23-year-old starting pitchers the Minnesota Twins have had come through the system in recent years. He talks confidently about concepts such as using throw-away pitches in specific locations to expose a hitter's weak spot later in the count.

He treats baseball somewhat like a chess match or a poker game. That's why he was so frustrated with his last two big-league outings in late April, where he allowed 13 earned runs over just 6 1/3 innings.

"I was just getting into that mode where I was trying to play away from their strengths rather than going with my strength and challenging them, trying to beat them," Hendriks said. "I was more worried about them beating me than me beating them. I was pretty much losing it for myself rather than going out there and trying to command everything and beat them. ...

"I was flipping up too much offspeed and not doing what got me here. And that's establishing my fastball and let the offspeed work off that. I was doing it the other way around and it just wasn't working for me."

The Twins have already used 10 starting pitchers in just over two months, and with P.J. Walters being placed on the disabled list there are currently only four men in the starting rotation.

The Twins don't just need Hendriks to pitch well enough to stick in the big leagues. They need him to play a key role immediately.

"He handles himself really well. He knows what he's doing," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He just got out of whack here earlier, because he couldn't get his fastball where he wanted to and ended up misfiring and getting behind in the count.

"I think the one thing that everyone has impressed upon him is that he has to be able to locate his fastball better more than everything else. Using the breaking pitches and being able to pitch behind when you don't have your great fastball is one thing, but you're still going to have to locate a fastball in this league before you're going to be successful. He went down and took that to heart and supposedly got better. He still had some rough times with it, but supposedly got better. His last start was fantastic. Hopefully he can build off that."

Berrios in the house

The Twins welcomed a pair of draft picks to Target Field on Friday -- first-round compensation pick J.O. Berrios and second-round pick J.T. Chargois.

Both were expected to officially sign their contracts.

Baseball America reported last week that Berrios' deal is worth $1.55 million, which is exactly the recommended slot value for the No. 32 pick.

"That was my dream since childhood to be drafted by a major league team," said Berrios, who will report to the Gulf Coast League. "So to hear my name is something unbelievable. I can't wait to start my career."

Berrios was accompanied by scout Hector Otero, who was in attendance earlier this year when the 18-year-old right-hander threw a seven-inning no-hitter against a Puerto Rican All-Star team that included No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa.

"More impressive with this kid is his pitchability," Otero said. "How to change eye level. He knows how to pitch, when to throw 94, when to throw 90. For his age he was very impressive."

When asked which major league pitcher aspires to be like someday Berrios said Justin Verlander.

"His leadership and his arm strength and the way he competes."

Berrios throws a fastball that consistently sits anywhere from 92-96, sometimes touching the upper-90's. He also possesses a sharp slider and changeup.

Roster decisions

In his weekly Friday radio appearance with 1500 ESPN, Gardenhire said the Twins will likely use an "in-house candidate" to fill the fifth starter role, which won't be needed until sometime next week. The two likely choices are Jeff Manship and Anthony Slama.

Gardenhire said Carl Pavano has yet to start throwing since being placed on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort earlier this month, so it's unlikely he will return to the rotation anytime soon.

Gardenhire also hinted strongly that Hendriks will take the place of a position player when the Twins officially place him on the 25-man roster. Because of how unstable the starting rotation is right now Gardenhire and pitching coach Rich Anderson feel more comfortable with 13 pitchers.

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
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