Notebook: Scott Baker pounded, but confident 'it's going to come'
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-fielder Ryan Doumit lost a fly ball in the sun with two outs in the top of the third inning on Monday.
Apparently he didn't look high enough.
The ball, hit by Tampa Bay shortstop Elliot Johnson, sailed 30+ feet beyond the right-field fence for a home run, putting the Rays up 7-1 on Minnesota Twins righty Scott Baker.
In the prior inning, Baker gave up a grand slam to Ben Zobrist.
This was Baker's first start against a major league team since March 10, when he threw two innings in a "B" game against the Pittsburgh Pirates -- an outing that led to another bout of elbow tendonitis.
In 2 2/3 innings, Baker allowed seven earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out one. He threw 51 pitches (33 strikes) and induced only one swing-and-a-miss in 23 hacks, and his fastball velocity sat mostly between 86-87 mph with a couple 88's and 89's sprinkled in.
"I think, at the end of the day, it's about repetitions," Baker said, reporting no issues with his elbow after the start. "There's only one way to do that. Unfortunately I didn't make pitches when I needed to. Six runs with two outs... Just a couple pitches away from having a game totally different. I was just forcing it, the ball was up. But at the end of the day, as along as I'm healthy and getting enough repetitions in, all of that will come tomorrow."
When asked if he thought the ball not coming out of his hand well signaled any major injury issues, Baker said no.
"I know it's going to come, it's just a matter of when. I know we've talked a little bit about the velocity not being there, just like I said, it all relates - the velocity, the location, the not trying to overdo it. You have a tendency when you try to force pitches, the results are not to your liking. But sometimes it's not going to come out as good as it can."
Baker's next start is scheduled for Saturday. If all goes well with his elbow this week, it's likely he would ramp up to about 65 pitches.
Assuming four days rest between starts, Baker's next start after Saturday couldn't come until Thursday, April 5. The Twins' final spring training game is on Wednesday, April 4 against the Fort Myers Miracle. Baker's first regular-season start is scheduled for the home opener at Target Field on April 9.
Based on the current schedule, it will be very difficult for Baker to make that start.
"I'd love to make that start, honestly, and that's what we're shooting for," Baker said. "But obviously we're running out of time. So I guess we'll have to see how this next start goes. Not necessarily if the results are better, but if it's coming out of my hand better. As long as I physically feel good, that's what we're shooting for. ...
"Obviously we're going to make a wise decision either way. We've got a long season. To sit here and say that's the most important thing, to make that home opener start, that's just not the case. Obviously I'd love to make that start, but if I can't, I can't."
Theoretically, the Twins don't need a fifth starter until April 15. They play four straight games to start the season, then have an off day on April 10.
Gardenhire irked by Baker's pace
Manager Ron Gardenhire was irked about some of the sloppy baserunning on Monday -- particularly a play where Alexi Casilla failed to turn a double play on the plodding Jose Molina, and a play in which Joe Benson failed to run out a fly ball that wound up dropping for a hit, but he wound up on first base instead of second. Benson was also doubled off second base with nobody out in the seventh inning.
"You're down five runs with no outs. That's the stuff that's just got to go. You just got to get rid of it."
This mini-rant led Gardenhire into another mini-rant about Baker's pace.
"Our starting pitcher put us in a hole today," Gardenhire said. "He got his work in, yes. But we chased the ball all over the field and spent 8 hours in the first three innings out there. That ain't good enough. He's got to pick up the pace and get going now.
"He says his arm's fine, everything's good. Well then let's go. Get on the ball, throw the ball. That's all I want to see from here on out. That was too long of a three innings. It's all BS. Everybody gets put to sleep and then we play a cluster of a baseball game."
General manager Terry Ryan was asked after the game if it appeared that Baker was holding back slightly.
"Yeah, I would say that's accurate and I'm not sure why," Ryan said. "If he's not hurt then he ought to let it go."
Ryan will leave catcher decision up to Gardenhire
The finalization of the Minnesota Twins 25-man roster contains several moving parts.
All of these questions, and more, are tied to the Twins' catcher situation.
Will they keep two or three? That's up to Gardenhire.
"If he wants to go with three, we'll go with three," Ryan said. "If he wants to go with two we'll go with two. I don't know which way he's leaning."
Heading into camp, Doumit was penciled in as the regular DH on days when Joe Mauer would catch. But with Morneau occupying the DH slot regularly since March 13, right field and first base have turned into a game of musical chairs.
Rays 10, Twins 4
Twins' spring record: 13-12
• Morneau ripped a double in three at-bats in his encore to Saturday's two-homer day.
• Starting in right field, Doumit blasted his first Grapefruit League home run of the spring with a solo shot in the second inning.
• RHP Liam Hendriks allowed two earned runs on four hits in three walks while striking out one in four innings. Hendriks could be the first starter called upon to step into the rotation if Baker or Jason Marquis can't go.
• Revere singled twice in three at-bats to raise his spring batting average to .349.
38: Players on the spring training roster after right-hander Brendan Wise was re-assigned to minor league camp on Monday morning.
• OF Trevor Plouffe (hamstring) will play in a minor league game on Wednesday. Ryan said Plouffe's injury likely won't affect his standing in the right field competition.
• Jason Marquis has been away from the team for nearly a week tending to his 7-year-old daughter, who was seriously injured in a bicycle accident in New York. General manager Terry Ryan said Marquis has been keeping up with bullpen sessions and should still be able to make his first start of the regular season. It is unclear when Marquis will rejoin the Twins in Fort Myers.
• OF Josh Willingham was scratched from Monday's lineup due to a tweaked ankle. This isn't considered serious.
• 3B Sean Burroughs left the game early after getting hit in the left forearm with a pitch. He's considered day-to-day.