TAMPA, Fla. -- There appears to be a theme starting for Carlos Silva already this spring -- same stuff, different year. The Twins preached all offseason that they are looking for Silva to rebound from a rough '06 season. But after Silva's first Grapefruit League start, it seems that there is still a lot of work for the right-hander to do if he's going to get there. Silva pitched two innings while allowing five runs on four hits in the Twins' 6-1 loss to the Yankees on Thursday. Immediately, Silva appeared to have trouble with the command of his pitches as he walked two in the outing and recorded one hit-by-pitch. He threw a total of 42 pitches, with 26 coming in the first inning alone.
The numbers weren't the thing of most concern to the club as it was Silva's inability to get his sinker working effectively that raises some red flags. The sinker has been Silva's most effective pitch over his career and last year, when things went bad, it was due to an inability to get the pitch to work well. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that it's still too early in the year to get worried about results, but that could change quickly. "We will [be concerned] if this keeps happening over and over," Gardenhire said. "Right now it's first time out. [His sinker] dove a few times but not consistently. It just wasn't sinking good today." Silva wasn't in complete agreement with Gardenhire as he said that he felt pretty good with how the ball was moving. He agreed that he missed with a few of pitches, but he feels it's just a matter of time before things begin to click. "People aren't going to look at how you start," Silva said. "They're going to look at how you end. I'm not going to start worrying about it. Maybe the numbers don't show it, but I feel good." Silva's mission now becomes to work on the sinker as much as possible. Gardenhire said that the plan will be to have Silva pound the sinker continually in his starts to make sure that it's working correctly. The other pitches will come, but most importantly, the coaching staff knows that Silva needs to master the pitch that eluded him all of last season. "He's going to have to keep going at it," Gardenhire said of using the sinker. "And then we'll see at the end of spring if he's where we need him to be." First glimpse: The Twins got their first look at one of their top pitching prospects when Kevin Slowey backed up Silva on Thursday. Slowey pitched two scoreless innings while allowing two hits and two walks.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.