Notes: Dobnak, Twins pile up the K's

March 13th, 2021

On Saturday afternoon, Twins right-hander was working on getting more break on his slider. It worked -- big time -- as he dominated the Rays, pitching three innings, allowing one hit and striking out six in a 1-0 victory at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla.

In the first inning, Dobnak got Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe looking. Dobnak was able to use his fastball on the outside part of the plate to get them out.

In the second inning, the slider was deadly as Joey Wendle and Mike Zunino struck out swinging. An inning later, the first two hitters -- Kevin Kiermaier and Dalton Kelly -- went down swinging on the slider.

“I’m actually a strikeout guy. New Year. New me,” Dobnak said. “Today, [the slider] worked pretty well. So I’m pretty happy with the results. Everything was kind of working today.”

The big question is what Dobnak’s role will be with the Twins this season. Manager Rocco Baldelli didn’t have an answer after Saturday's game, but he said Dobnak could be either a starter or reliever.

“[Dobnak] has established himself as a quality member of our pitching staff,” Baldelli said. “One way or the other, wherever he slots in, however he gets his innings, I’m pretty sure we are going to find a way to get him involved and let him pitch us to some wins. Exactly how that’s going to go from Opening Day on, I couldn’t tell you at this moment.”

Worth noting
• Twins pitchers combined to strike out 13 batters. Brandon Waddell and Derek Law had three strikeouts apiece, while Andrew Albers picked up one. Jorge Alcala didn’t record a strikeout, but he blanked the Rays in the fourth inning.

“They all went out there and threw the ball really well,” Baldelli said. “It’s not even like there was a ton of traffic out on the bases. Our guys threw strikes and did exactly what we would want them to do. It was a dominating effort -- Spring Training or not.”

• Left-hander J.A. Happ is expected to make his first start of the spring on Monday against the Braves. He has missed most of the spring after testing positive for COVID-19.