On a 75-degree Sunday, Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda turned in his best pitching performance of the spring, hurling four scoreless innings of two-hit baseball with no walks. He also struck out six of the 13 Boston batters he faced, in what would eventually be a 7-6, Red Sox win.
Perhaps not lost on any Twins fan was this: His counterpart on Sunday, Martin Perez, who pitched for the Twins last season, did just as well. Perez also pitched four scoreless innings, allowing four hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Friendly reminder that the #MNTwins could have exercised Martin Perez's $7.5m contract to pitch at the back of the rotation. Instead they cut him loose and the Sox paid $6m for him to be their number 3. Let him K as many Spring Training hitters he wants.
— Cody Pirkl (@CodyPirkl) March 8, 2020
Other veterans showing improvement
-Third baseman Josh Donaldson’s bat is coming around. He now has six hits in 19 at bats, including three doubles. He’s hitting .316.
-First baseman, Miguel Sano, after a slow start, now has five hits in 21 at bats, including two home runs and four RBI. He’s not setting the world on fire with a .238 average, but appears to be finding his stroke.
-Right fielder, Max Kepler, ice cold to start spring training, is at least moving in the right direction, with three hits in 14 at bats, including a double. He’s at least above the Mendoza line.
Some players on fire
-Nelson Cruz, the designated hitter and ageless wonder for the Twins, has nine hits in 17 at bats, including a double and three home runs, for a batting average of .529. Take that, rookies.
-Some rookies have responded well, though, including top prospects, Alex Kirilloff and Oregon State University man, Trevor Larnach. Kirilloff is hitting .500 with eight hits in 16 at bats, while Larnach is not far behind him, hitting .350 with seven hits in 20 at bats. Do these two get a shot with the big club or not? If they keep this up, some tough decisions are looming.
And some players are struggling
-Left fielder, Eddie Rosario, is as cold as it gets, with one hit in 20 at bats for a .050 batting average. His bat will come around eventually.
-The same can be said for infielder, Luis Arraez, who finds himself hitting .136 with three hits in 22 at bats.
-Backup catcher, Alex Avila, is hitting only slightly better at .154, but he also has struck out six times so far this spring.
-On the pitching side of the equation, Twins pitchers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Duffey, Zack Littell, Trevor May and Cody Stashak, are among those who have not allowed a run so far this spring.
-Devin Smeltzer, though, has really struggled. He has allowed 18 hits and 12 runs (nine earned) over nine-plus innings to push his earned run average to 8.68.