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FORT MYERS, Fla. — On a back field at the Red Sox’ sprawling spring training complex, Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker might have had his best outing of the spring on Tuesday. But since nearly no one was Wholesale Minnesota Twins Jerseys in attendance to watch his six-inning, 81-pitch effort, you’ll just have to take his word for it.
“It went really well,” he said. “Executed what we wanted to. Threw all the pitches, located. Overall, really, really good.”
Shoemaker doesn’t remember who he faced exactly, though he knows there were definitely some faces in there that he had seen before. He does remember that he only gave up one or two hits and executed just how he wanted, missing maybe one or two spots, he said. It was an improvement over his last start in which Shoemaker was hammered for seven runs on two home runs in just three innings.
Tuesday’s start in the “B” game, which allowed him to skip a long road trip to Bradenton, where the Twins fell 1-0 to the Pirates, is scheduled to be the longest outing of his spring.
“Leading up to this point in spring, granted the last outing was not what we wanted, but (I) still got good work in … I feel really good with where I’m at,” he said. “I’m building up in spring. Got my six innings today and if I get to six innings in spring, my last start will usually be two or three innings, usually just taper off a little bit just getting ready for the season.”
When he makes that first start is still in question — at least to him. The Twins have announced that Kenta Maeda will start on Opening Day, and Jose Berrios will follow him. Shoemaker followed Berrios in the rotation this week, and Michael Pineda is scheduled to start Wednesday, making that the likely order the Twins will go with, though Shoemaker isn’t speculating.
“I’m not really reading into it because I know there’s been a little discussion but not too much, so we don’t really know much yet,” Shoemaker said. “… I don’t know if I’m pitching maybe Game 3, Game 4. Don’t really know yet. I know it can line up either way, however they want to do it.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton — the Twins’ former bench coach and manager Rocco Baldelli’s good friend — had some fun delivering payback after Baldelli and the Twins played a video of Shelton getting ejected on the Hammond Field scoreboard last week.
Baldelli, as seen in a photo posted on Twitter by Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse, was welcomed before the game with a picture of a younger, mustached version of himself with the accompanying caption “2-Time MLB Most Handsome Manager Award Winner.”
“We’ve talked about the internet being a fantastic spot when you’re looking for something specific, and Sheltie, I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent a lot of time out there,” Baldelli said. “He’s got plenty of time for that, so I figured he was on the internet shuffling around all night. But yeah, it’s fine. Again, you have to let guys have their fun, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Griffin Jax, who was reassigned to minor-league camp after the game in Bradenton on Tuesday, threw three scoreless innings in his first start of the spring. … Luis Arraez started the game in left field. … Derek Law threw a scoreless inning and struck out two. He hasn’t given up a run in six innings this spring.