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Updated: March 10th, 2012 3:24pm
Notebook: Poor showing against Pirates for Rule-5 pick Terry Doyle

Notebook: Poor showing against Pirates for Rule-5 pick Terry Doyle

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- It would be a knee-jerk reaction to suggest Minnesota Twins right-hander and Rule-5 draft pick Terry Doyle doesn't belong in the big leagues after getting pounded by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

But with bullpen roster spots up for grabs to the best performers this spring, giving up seven hits -- five line drives, a towering double and an infield bleeder -- won't bode well for Doyle's chances.

Doyle allowed two runs in his 2 2/3 innings, but he consistently fell behind hitters (25 strikes, 18 balls), and almost every batted ball came hot off the barrel of the bat.

Doyle's last pitch was hammered off the left-centerfield wall near the 370-foot sign for an RBI double by Casey McGehee. That prompted manager Ron Gardenhire to summon Anthony Swarzak from the bullpen.

"I'm going to go with bad to wicked bad, somewhere in there," Doyle said about his performance.

"I didn't get ahead of anybody and worked up in the zone, which is generally the recipe for bad things. I'll make the adjustment for next week and come back for my next outing and try to get back down in the zone and work ahead of hitters."

Doyle, 26, owns a 2.94 career minor league ERA in 422 2/3 innings, including 381 strikeouts to only 97 walks. Doyle impressed Twins scouts in the Arizona Fall League this past offseason, but he has yet to pitch above the Double-A level.

In his first spring outing, Doyle threw two scoreless innings against the Rays in Port Charlotte, walking one and striking out one. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said earlier this week he likes Doyle's sinker when the right-hander is able to work down in the zone.

Per MLB rules, players selected in the Rule-5 draft must be offered back to their former team if they aren't kept on the 25-man roster all season. In 2011, the Twins swung a trade in late-March to keep Rule-5 draft pick Scott Diamond in Rochester.

Because he's potentially in a do-or-die spot this spring, there's some added pressure for Doyle.

"Results matter, but at the same time, you can see today I didn't have my good stuff," he said. "If I had my good stuff and I had given up seven hits, I would have been a little bit more happy with the outing I guess. But it's kind of a mix of stuff and results at this point."

Of the nine players selected by the Twins in the Rule-5 draft since 1998, only Johan Santana made any kind of a long-term impact.

Today's result

Twins 4, Pirates 2

• Twins' spring record: 4-5

• 3B Danny Valencia had a monster day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double to right-center and a three-run homer to left field.

Anthony Swarzak, Jared Burton, Matt Mahoney, Kyle Waldrop and Lester Oliveros all pitched scoreless innings of relief as they continue to jockey for bullpen positioning. "We see some guys we like a little bit," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We like their arms. We see the ball coming out, but still, they've only been out once or twice. I think, let's give them a couple more times out and see where we're at."

• DH Justin Morneau went 1-for-4 with a single.

Baker 'stunk' in B-game

Scott Baker's outing in a 'B' game against the Pirates on Saturday didn't go well.

The right-hander allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits in two shortened innings -- both were stopped short, which is common in 'B' games, due to high pitch counts.

Of the 43 pitches he threw, 31 were strikes, and several others were hit hard -- five line drives, three groundballs and three flies, including a towering home run to left by Matt Hague.

"I stunk," Baker said. "I didn't get the ball down. I wasn't finishing pitches. Obviously I'm not a robot, but it just happened to be a poor day. I don't know if the bus ride had anything to do with it or not. I felt fine. I just wasn't finishing pitches, just wasn't very effective."

Baker was scheduled to start the game, but after a 90-minute bus ride the Twins didn't arrive to Pirate City until 30 minutes before start time. Baker usually takes 30-35 minutes to get warmed up before a normal start, so coaches pushed him back to the third inning.

It didn't appear as if he was throwing at full velocity, but pitchers rarely do in early-March. And, as Baker pointed out, "It is 10:30 (in the morning). ... And it's a 'B'-game. You try to create adrenaline, but it is what it is."

Most importantly, Baker said everything feels fine with his elbow.

"Physically, it's fine," he said. "I do get sore. I'm not a guy who -- I get sore, I recover, I get sore, I recover. I've been like that my whole life, so it's a progression. So you have probably the same soreness after every outing, just general soreness, and then your pitch count goes up until you're where you need to be to start the season."

Numbers game

1: Home run hit by 20-year-old prospect Oswaldo Arcia in the 'B' game. Arcia's home run traveled over a 20-foot fence to opposite field in left -- over the 370-foot sign -- and off the Pirates' clubhouse roof. "That was a bomb," Gardenhire said. "Crushed it. All the things you hear about the kid is he's a big, strong, powerful kid. He's go things to learn. He's got things he's going to have to adjust to. He's got a ways to go to get better, but you throw him something out and over the plate like that and he'll crush it, and he did. I really like him. I like the way he goes about his business."

1: Successful drag bunt by Ben Revere in the 'B' game. "Well he has to be able to use those things," Gardenhire said. "He's worked really hard at it, and he's going to have to do that more often."

10: Rule-5 picks by the Twins over the past 14 years: 1998 INF Josue Espada... 1999 LHP Johan Santana... 2000 RHP Brandon Knight ... 2002 INF Jose Morban... 2004 LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith... 2005 OF Jason Pridie ... 2006 INF Alejandro Machado... 2008 RHP Jason Jones ... 2010 LHP Scott Diamond ... 2011 RHP Terry Doyle

Health report

• No significant health concerns

Overheard

"They're not flashing me, but they're looking good. If they're flashing me, I'm not really liking all that kind of stuff."
-- Gardenhire, when asked by a reporter if any of the bullpen guys had flashed early in spring training.

On deck

Sunday: vs. Yankees, 12:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn vs. RHP Phil Hughes
Monday: @ Rays, 12:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano vs. RHP James Shields
Tuesday: vs. Blue Jays, 12:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano vs. LHP Brett Cecil

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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