Nolasco using spring to work on different pitching elements

Righty allows one run in three innings against Cardinals

Nolasco using spring to work on different pitching elements

JUPITER, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco accepts Spring Training for what it is: a way for players to work on elements of their game before the regular season.

So while Nolasco wanted to execute his fastball during his second spring start on Saturday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium, the Cardinals' batters hoped to get into fastball counts.

The 32-year-old righty tossed three innings, allowing one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He needed 49 pitches (29 strikes), but he rebounded after throwing 25 in the first frame.

"I was throwing a lot of fastballs, so they started ambushing a little bit," Nolasco said. "That's OK. They're trying to hit fastballs, I'm trying to work on fastballs. I was able to throw a couple breaking balls in there, mix it up and [got] behind a lot of guys. But that's something to work on right now. I was able to get out of some stuff. It was good. Decent."

Added manager Paul Molitor: "He settled in, he did fine."

Nolasco fell behind in counts to seven of the 13 batters he faced but escaped damage all but once. He found his pitches running a bit too much out of the strike zone.

Randal Grichuk connected on a 3-0 offering from Nolasco, sending it over the left-field fence for a solo homer with two outs in the second inning.

After Grichuk's long drive, Nolasco focused more on his offspeed pitches. He called both his curveball and slider good. Nolasco also tried mixing in some changeups.

"They were going to ambush me twice, 3-0, Spring Training, so I've got to throw them off a little bit," Nolasco said. "I get it. It's Spring Training. I'm trying to work on things. That was a good day for me to battle and make some pitches behind in the count."

Chris Herrmann, hoping to make the Opening Day roster as either the backup catcher or in a utility role, caught Nolasco for the first time.

"He did good," Nolasco said. "I thought he called a pretty good game, held onto some balls really well. The ball was sinking a lot, so he did a good job adjusting from the bullpen to the game."

Christina DeNicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.