Nolasco battles with curveball in debut

Twins rotation candidate pleased with outing overall

Nolasco battles with curveball in debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The results weren't quite there, but Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco was pleased with the quality of his stuff in his Spring Training debut in a 6-5 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night at Hammond Stadium.

Nolasco, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation with Tommy Milone, Trevor May and Jose Berrios, showed he was healthy, as he was hitting the mid-90s on the radar gun. It was a welcome sign, considering he dealt with injuries throughout the 2015 season, including an elbow strain and ankle surgery that kept him out of action for four months until his return in late September. But Nolasco had trouble locating his curveball, and gave up three runs on four hits over 1 1/3 innings.

"I felt good," Nolasco said. "My arm felt good. Everything felt good body-wise. The ball was coming out decent. So, I'll try to build it up from there. I was just rushing a little bit. But I just want to be healthy this spring and see what happens."

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Nolasco is an unusual position, as he's in a spring competition for the first time since he was a youngster with the Marlins. But Nolasco said he's not trying to approach it differently than in recent years when his spot in the rotation was safe.

"I approach it the same," Nolasco said. "Whether or not I have a spot, I just want to get people out. It's my competitive nature. So I'm just keeping it the same and trying to get guys out no matter what."

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said he liked what he saw from Nolasco, and said he's not worried because it was Nolasco's first game of the spring.

"He was midseason form in terms of velocity and stuff," Dozier said. "The ball was sinking. He had a couple putout pitches he left up, but heck, that's Spring Training. You look at locating the fastball and I was really happy about what I saw from him."

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Twins manager Paul Molitor was also pleased to see Nolasco looked healthy, but added he wasn't paying too much attention to the radar gun at Hammond Stadium.

"I thought the ball was coming out pretty good but, again, I don't trust the gun," Molitor said. "But it looked like he was getting out in front of his curveball instead of his slider. He threw some good sliders, but curveball, he had a guy down, 0-2, and couldn't get it down. He had chances to put away a couple guys but couldn't get it where it wanted. But first day, fine for me."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.