What’s it like facing Jhoan Duran? ‘Not fun.’
FORT MYERS, Fla. — What’s it like to get settled into the batter’s box and have Jhoan Duran on the mound, staring back at you?
A couple Twins hitters found out on Sunday in live batting practice, and it’s safe to say they’re happy it’s not something they have to do routinely.
“It’s not fun,” outfielder Joey Gallo said. “I’m glad he’s on my team, for sure. He’s got great stuff. But it was good to see it the first day. He’s throwing (102 miles per hour). He’s nasty.”
Yes, 102, just as camp began, to the surprise of even Duran himself, who responded with an ‘Are you serious?’ when told he had hit that mark.
Facing Duran, whom he called “electric,” in live BP early on in camp was a challenge that shortstop Carlos Correa had been welcoming.
“He brought out the big guns and he was pumping 102, 99 mph splinkers, 90 mph curveballs,” Correa said. “I was like, ‘Holy (expletive). Welcome back.’ It was fun. … When you face 102, 103, everything else seems just a little slower. I just wanted that challenge out there. Now I know why he’s so successful.”
Correa had spent a day telling Duran that he was going to take him deep. Duran let him know that wouldn’t happen — he’d be striking him out instead.
And indeed he did, getting the star shortstop to chase a splinker and later a curveball for strike three.
“I’ve been around guys like (Justin) Verlander, Gerrit (Cole) throwing 89, 90 the first couple of live BPs, just getting a feel for stuff, and you get this beast throwing 102 on the first day of lives,” Correa said. “That’s pretty impressive. He’s ready.”
Afterwards, Correa had a few words in jest for his teammate.
“I said he’s a — I don’t want to say the word — for throwing me a 3-2 curveball and a 3-2 splinker,” Correa said. “We’ve been messing for a whole day since yesterday and he got me pretty good.”
Maeda throws live
Another welcomed sign?
Kenta Maeda, in uniform, throwing live to hitters for the first time this spring.
“It’s hard not to look and see Kenta being out there as being a highlight of the day,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of the veteran, who hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Correa swung at the first pitch out of Maeda’s hand, splintering off a piece of his bat. Max Kepler shortly after hit a groundball that required Maeda to hustle to field it. His pitching coaches, he joked, were happy that he got an extra fielding rep in.
“Obviously the results are great but more importantly, it’s about how I feel and everything felt great,” Maeda said. “The ball seemed to be coming off great with the shape and trajectory that I liked, so I think we’re in an upward direction and I just hope to be able to continue this throughout the spring.”
Gallo said he was happy with how he controlled the zone on Sunday during his live BP at-bats and was pleased to see that some of the things he has been working on with Twins hitting coaches translated into his at-bats. “The things we’ve been working on seemed to come out,” he said.
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