Jose Berrios made it eight innings through two games before giving up his first hit of the young season. He ended up pitching 5⅔ innings in the Twins’ 10-2 victory over Seattle at Target Field on Thursday.
But preventing hits isn’t the only aspect of the righthander’s game that’s been strong. He picked off two runners, the first time a Twins pitcher has done so in one game since 2016. Both moves ended innings.
“We don’t really work on that,” Berrios said. “We did last spring training and this one, the first three, four days after bullpen we went to [the stadium field] on the mound, and we worked on that with LaTroy [Hawkins]. … When that thing happened, I’d be ready.”
Berrios also fielded a bunt in the fifth to throw out speedy Sam Haggerty at first.
In all, he gave up five hits and two runs, including a Jose Marmolejos home run, striking out eight and walking three.
Pitching coach Wes Johnson said what he wants from Berrios is consistency.
“I really like what he’s doing,” Johnson said. “Some stuff we’ve really been working on hard with him, you’re just starting to see it. I thought he was throwing the ball phenomenal the second half of last year. I’m going, ‘OK, we’re going to build on that.’ And that’s what we’re hoping to see this year.”
Vaccination stationAfter the Twins won their home opener, Target Field temporarily morphed from ballpark to clinic.
The team’s tier one personnel — including the players, staff and their families — had a chance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with visions of loosening protocols dancing in their heads. Berrios was one of the many who planned to take the shot in the arm, though not his throwing arm.
Friday’s scheduled off day, planned in case of a rainout Thursday, operates as a built-in buffer in case side effects from the single Johnson & Johnson dose affect anyone.
But while all Minnesotans age 16 and up are now eligible for a vaccine, the Twins are still not sure if they’ll be batting 1.000 on that front. President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said pregame it was “too early to tell” if the Twins would reach the 85% threshold for vaccinations that would allow for some social distancing, masking and other restrictions to lift a bit.
“Even if we didn’t as of [Thursday], there could be conversations in the days to come,” Falvey said. “There’s been a lot of education, going back to spring training, about the vaccines, about the benefits.”
Personal decisionsFalvey said some of the alternate site personnel have already received vaccines, though there is some confusion if those count toward the 85% threshold or if that percentage applies only to the traveling major league group.
Manager Rocco Baldelli has been vocal in advocating for the vaccine. Falvey said if certain personnel change their mind past Thursday and decide to be vaccinated, the team will work out a way to make that happen.
Luis Arraez, who started at third base Thursday, hit a homer and had three RBI, decided to line up for the vaccine after coming down with the virus this past offseason and not wanting himself or his family to endure that again.
“If we all do it as a unit, it will be better in the long run,” Arraez said. “To be honest with you, I’m a little tired of using the mask and all the protocols and things like that. … I prefer the injection instead of spitting every other day [to test for COVID-19 3/8.”
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz said vaccines are a step closer to normal for the Twins.
“We’re going to have less time to worry about masks and tests and all that and all the protocols,” Cruz said, “and focus more on what’s more important: Baseball games.”
Baddoo breakAkil Baddoo’s strong start for the Tigers — he had six RBI in the three-game series with the Twins in Detroit — raised questions about why the Twins didn’t put him on their 40-man roster, enabling the Tigers to pluck him in the Rule 5 draft in December.
“He was certainly in the conversations to add to the roster at a time,” Falvey said, adding the Twins had free agency roster considerations to keep in mind. “… Disappointed we don’t have him, for sure, especially when he goes and does that against us. But I will tell you that I’m happy for him personally.”