Livan pleased with spring progress

Livan pleased with spring progress

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Making his fifth Spring Training start, Livan Hernandez went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out six in the Twins' loss to the Phillies on Friday.

"He was fine. He was better today, shorter, working on some slide steps and all those things," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He was better than last time, and he'll get better. He's working on it. It's just -- you can see -- he's out of the Kenny Rogers mode.

"He likes to try it all, likes to make the ball do things. So it's not going to be quick games with him.

"He's going to take his time and he's going to go in and out and he's going to spin it. That's just the way it's going to be. We knew that going in. That's what we're getting right now. That's the way he pitches. So we're kind of adjusting to him.

Hernandez, who signed as a free agent with the Twins on Feb. 12, threw 87 pitches, relying primarily on his sinker and four-seam fastball. The right-hander was pleased with his command of those pitches.

"I [felt] very good," Hernandez said. "The strike zone [was] perfect today. I [threw] a lot of strikes. That was more important."

He made two "mistakes," he said -- walking Ray Olmedo, who would score the Phillies' first run, and hitting Chris Snelling in the fourth.

Hernandez, satisfied with his curveball, said he has mainly kept the breaking pitch in the bullpen this spring, waiting for the regular season to break it out.

One of his goals in the game was to eliminate the stolen bases that he allowed in his previous start on Sunday, when the Blue Jays stole three bags.

"I [threw] more strikes today," Hernandez said. "I worked with pitching coach [Rick Anderson on Tuesday] in Fort Lauderdale, [Fla.], and [fixed] some things. So it was perfect. I don't want anybody to steal bases. I feel bad about the other [game]. I tried to go slow the other day, and they stole three bases. I feel so bad. ... I promised that nobody [was] going to steal a base today and worked with my mechanics a little bit the other day."

Hernandez is expected to make his last Spring Training start Wednesday against the Rays.

"I feel really good," he said. "I'm warming up. That last start [I'm] not [going to try] to do too much, because you don't want to get hurt. I [will] try to go and pitch and pitch my game. ... [Then it's] another week before the season starts and then we see what happens. [But] I feel good right now."

Right-hander Brian Bass came in to relieve Hernandez and pitched a hitless sixth inning, allowing one walk. Bass, 26, appeared in 37 games for Triple-A Rochester last season, compiling a record of 7-3. He had an ERA of 3.48 and a rate of 1.16 walks and hits per inning and a 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In seven appearances covering 11 1/3 innings this spring, Bass has given up nine hits, three walks and two earned runs for a 1.59 ERA.

"Bass has been fine," Gardenhire said. "Bass is throwing the ball really good. He's not afraid. He challenges guys, moves the ball in and out. I like Bass. He's doing pretty good, and that bodes well for a guy out of options. He's throwing pretty doggone good."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.