May hopes to build off momentum from debut

Twins pitcher holds Nationals scoreless in bid for rotation job

May hopes to build off momentum from debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Trevor May doesn't lack confidence or conviction in his abilities, and now he's channeling his energy toward opening the season in the Twins' rotation for the first time in his career.

May, who was moved to the bullpen in July 2015 during his rookie season, is getting a legitimate look as a starter this spring, competing against a host of candidates -- including Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey and Ryan Vogelsong -- for the fifth spot. He made his first appearance of the spring on Sunday against the Nationals, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings with a strikeout. The Twins won the game, 5-2.

Berrios finding comfort on mound

"I have all the confidence in the world that I can go out and prove that I deserve to be here," May said. "The stuff was already here from Day 1. I think I have a little bit of a chip, being unclear about knowing what I was going to be doing the last two years. It wasn't ideal for me or the vision I had for myself of my career. I'm going at it at 100 percent. There's no, 'Oh, I could fall back to the bullpen.'"

May has worked to simplify things, especially mentally. He's trying not to worry about his mechanics while out on the mound, and instead of meditating and avoiding his teammates before his starts, he's staying loose and visualizing what he wants to accomplish on the mound.

"I've kind of got rid of what we call eyewash here in the clubhouse," May said. "Things I thought helped me. Like being locked in listening to music and not talking to anyone. Instead, I cited my plan for what I wanted to get done for the day and what I wanted to work on and that was it. I took it with me and went from there."

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

One of the things May wanted to work on against Washington was his fastball command, especially now that he's working in more two-seam fastballs as a starter. He had mixed results, with two walks in the first to load the bases, but then located a fastball up in the zone to strike out Matt Skole to get out of the jam.

"I fixed a few things in my delivery, but going in the stretch made me feel like I was in the bullpen again, so maybe I subconsciously went back to a few old things," May said. "I battled a couple old habits but it came together at the end there."

May, who has dealt with back injuries over the last two seasons while pitching in relief, also was happy to report that he's feeling healthy and that pitching every five days makes it easier to create a routine to keep his back healthy.

"I felt as good as I could've asked for to be honest," May said. "I felt pretty fresh. I sat down and got back up, and nothing tightened up in my back. I felt like old Trevor."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. 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.