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It’s not exactly uncharted territory, but those four offerings clocked at 97 mph by the stadium radar gun got him nearly halfway to his regular-season career total of 10 with at least that much velocity. He threw only one pitch that hard last season — a 97.2-mph offering in his Opening Day start on July 24.
The question, as always, remains whether Berríos can sustain that velocity through a full season and maintain his stamina in the Custom Minnesota Twins Jerseys second half. That’s a challenge he has been working to tackle with pitching coach Wes Johnson.
For what it’s worth, Berríos’ fastball velocity has usually ticked up in September, though his 4.84 career ERA in the second half is still considerably worse than his 3.70 first-half mark.
“José is in a fantastic spot physically,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He came into camp beyond ready. He spent his time very well this offseason. He has maintained his focus from the end of last season until now. He’s always exceptional about his routines. He’s ready to throw. He’s about as prepared as you can possibly be to put in a full year’s worth of innings.”
Berríos doesn’t sound concerned at all about that stamina. Though he threw only 63 innings last season, he’s confident in his ability to shoulder a full workload because he never really shut himself down during the COVID-19 hiatus. He went back to Puerto Rico and stayed in his routines and bullpen sessions until Summer Camp and the regular season picked up.
It’s all about his mentality and confidence, Berríos says. And not only does he seem determined to maintain this extra oomph in his stuff — his breaking pitches were also crisp as he struck out four in three shutout innings — but he’s eager to show that the work on his body has primed him to reach 200 innings for the second time in his career, despite last season’s shutdown.
“That’s what I’ve got in my mind every day,” Berríos said. “I prepare myself to do that. If I do not, that’s other authorities’ decision. Manager, coach, other people. For me, I prepare myself to get through 200 innings.”
Twins part ways with three coordinators
The Twins parted ways on Wednesday with Minor League coordinators Donegal Fergus (hitting), Billy Boyer (fielding/baserunning) and Michael Thomas (catching), according to a source.
The Twins “don’t discuss personnel decisions,” a club spokesman said, citing company policy.
Fergus was hired out of UC Santa Barbara before the 2020 season following a lengthy tenure in the collegiate game that also included stints at the University of Washington, Lower Columbia College, Seattle University and Tacoma Community College. Boyer was in his third year in the organization following a similar collegiate career at Seattle University and the University of Washington, and Thomas was in his fourth season in the organization following stints at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech.
Willians Astudillo continued a strong start with a pair of hits that raised his spring average to .400 (4-for-10), including a two-run single in the seventh and an uncharacteristic four-pitch walk in the sixth.
Astudillo split time between third base and catcher as he continues to compete for a spot on the Opening Day bench, where he could serve as a third catcher and provide depth at the corner infield positions. It could depend on how much the Twins value having more depth at shortstop, where they have Andrelton Simmons and starting second baseman Jorge Polanco but no clear option to back them up.
“I would think that there will be times this year where we are going to be carrying three catchers,” Baldelli said. “That’s very realistic. When exactly that is, I’m not sure. Could it be Opening Day? Absolutely. Willians is very proficient all around the field.”
Around the horn
• Rob Refsnyder tripled home a pair of runs with a line drive into the left-field corner to key the Twins’ two-run second inning. It was the outfielder’s second hit of the spring. He faces an uphill task in standing out due to the hot start of fellow non-roster outfielder Keon Broxton, who is 5-for-11 in Grapefruit League action.
• Right-handed reliever Shaun Anderson had another tough outing, allowing three hits and two runs in the fifth inning before he was pulled in the middle of a plate appearance against Rays pinch-hitter Kevin Padlo. Anderson did have a 15.88 ERA last spring before posting a 3.52 ERA out of the Giants’ bullpen.
Matt Shoemaker couldn’t have had a better spring debut for his new team, retiring all seven Atlanta hitters he faced on 32 pitches on Friday. He pitched into the third inning in that start and will have a chance to build on that in Thursday’s 12:05 p.m. CT matchup against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium, when he’ll toe the rubber against Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.