FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins starter Jake Odorizzi threw a no-hitter on Sunday.
Well, at least he did in the bullpen, he joked, where the right-hander got in most of his work after an early exit from the team’s 10-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Hammond Field.
Odorizzi’s day read: Home run, walk, walk, home run, groundout, single, double, groundout, and then manager Rocco Baldelli came out to get him. All told, he gave up five runs and got two outs.
But he’s the furthest thing from concerned.
“I thought I executed a lot of quality pitches. They weren’t called strikes today. It wasn’t a big deal,” Odorizzi said. “As long as I’m happy with the shape of them and how they were coming out, that’s about all I need to get out of spring training. Sure, would I have liked to get some outs or faced more batters? But it’s not going to make me miss a bit of sleep tonight.”
Odorizzi spent much of his day working on his offspeed pitches. He threw fewer fastballs than usual, which perhaps played a role in him being behind in counts.
Early on, he is happy with both his velocity and fastball location, another reason to focus on his offspeed stuff.
“Odo has a very mature approach to everything he does,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders, so he went out there today and, spring training, he was using this as a way to prepare and get himself in shape and work on some things as well.”
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In reality, Odorizzi has been working all offseason. He didn’t feel right mechanically last year, his first season with the Twins. After finishing with a career-high 4.49 earned-run average, Odorizzi committed to fixing things this offseason.
Twice a week beginning at the end of October, Odorizzi made the 40-minute drive from his house to the Florida Baseball Ranch. Fellow Twins starter Kyle Gibson had been there in the past, and Odorizzi had observed his results. While there, he learned how to use his lower half better, among other things.
“I figured it was a no-brainer for me to just go there,” he said.
Much of what he did there was similar to what new pitching coach Wes Johnson has brought to the Twins, which Odorizzi believes gives himself a bit of a leg up as he adapts to the new coach and his techniques.
“I feel like my mechanics are a lot better than they were last year, so I’m happy with where everything’s at right now, but it was a good eye-opener to kind of use some of the video work, the Rapsodo type of stuff and see it for myself rather than just feeling it,” he said of his time at the Florida Baseball Ranch.
Already in spring, Odorizzi said he’s throwing harder than he typically does. Johnson, he noted, is good at helping pitchers increase velocity using the same type of things he experienced at the Florida Baseball Ranch.
Now, he’s focusing on his cutter, which he recently helped teach to fellow starter Martin Perez, and locating his curveball better — not the results of an exhibition contest.
“I feel tremendously better than at any point last year, and I can see it in my pitches, too,” he said. “All of my offspeed pitches are a little bit sharper and a little bit better. (I’m) just getting back to where I felt I was at my best in 2015 and ‘16.”