Hendriks needs more than wins to rejoin Twins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Liam Hendriks has to do more than win at Class AAA Rochester to show the Twins he's ready to resume his major league career. The right-hander already has shown he can win games in the minors, and his record with the Red Wings ...
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Liam Hendriks has to do more than win at Class AAA Rochester to show the Twins he's ready to resume his major league career.
The right-hander already has shown he can win games in the minors, and his record with the Red Wings this season is a remarkable one: 6-0 with a 1.69 earned-run average. Problem is, those performances have not been an indication of success with the big league club.
In eight starts with the Twins this season, Hendriks is 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA, and he's winless in 12 major league starts.
"The level of competition is a little bit different down there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "As a matter of fact, it's a lot different. To dominate down there without the pressure you have in a major league ballgame, where everything's magnified, it's different. It's just different pitching, and you've got to get over the hump here."
Gardenhire said he watched a few innings of Hendriks' last start, a victory over Lehigh Valley on July 7 in which he threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just five hits and a walk. Despite the results, Gardenhire saw enough to concern him.
"I saw (opponents) swinging through some balls that were centered on the plate, things you get away with down there that, a lot of times, you don't get away with up here," the manager said. "So, to say, 'Well, he pitched good again, bring him up' -- no, no. He's got work to do. He's got a lot to learn.
"He has to learn to control his emotions, he's got to be able to spot a fastball and a breaking ball and locate a lot better than he's been able to when he's up here. That's the obvious, because he hasn't gotten it done down there in one start."
Hendriks was returned to Rochester last Tuesday after giving up four earned runs on six hits and four walks in a 6-4 victory at Detroit. The at-bat that seemed to seal his fate was a walk to Prince Fielder with one on and nobody out and the Twins leading 6-3 in the fifth inning. Hendriks got ahead of Fielder 1-2 before walking the Tigers slugger on three straight balls.
"That at-bat to Fielder, I don't want to say he was pitching scared, but he was pitching to avoid contact, and he can't be that guy," assistant general manager Rob Antony said.
What the Twins need to see from Hendriks consistently is an ability to use and locate all his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider, change -- in any count or situation. Because he's not overpowering, all of his success will be based on location.
"You can't go down there and get a win or two and bring him right back up and then see the same thing up here (again)," Gardenhire said. "It's about time for a kid like him. He needs to pitch. He needs five, six starts down there. He needs to pitch and get confidence going and be consistent with it, and run off four or five wins down there. We also need to hear the (coaching) staff down there say, 'This guy's locked in.' I haven't seen that yet."