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Mejia out to improve conditioning during spring

Lefty allows 3 runs vs. Orioles; Moya makes case for bullpen role
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After his third start of the spring against the Orioles in a 9-8 win on Tuesday, Twins left-hander Adalberto Mejia was asked what he felt he could improve upon from last season.

Mejia wasted no time in answering that he needs to be in better physical shape than last year, and he's well on his way. Mejia lost 13 pounds during the offseason and has dropped three more since reporting to camp to get down to 262 pounds. He credits his wife, Alejandrina, for helping him eat healthier, cutting out fried foods and a dedicated workout plan for the weight loss.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After his third start of the spring against the Orioles in a 9-8 win on Tuesday, Twins left-hander Adalberto Mejia was asked what he felt he could improve upon from last season.

Mejia wasted no time in answering that he needs to be in better physical shape than last year, and he's well on his way. Mejia lost 13 pounds during the offseason and has dropped three more since reporting to camp to get down to 262 pounds. He credits his wife, Alejandrina, for helping him eat healthier, cutting out fried foods and a dedicated workout plan for the weight loss.

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"I need to work on my physical attributes and my weight," Mejia said through a translator. "After that, I just need to work on commanding my pitches."

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Mejia, who is competing with veterans Phil Hughes and Anibal Sanchez for the final spot in the Twins' starting rotation, gave up three runs on four hits and a walk over three innings to see his ERA rise to 5.63 this spring, although he wasn't helped by his defense with Byron Buxton misplaying a fly ball that was ruled a double as part of a two-run Orioles third.

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"Conditioning, I think he looks good and his endurance has been fine," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "His outings down here, for me, have been somewhat similar to last year, where he tries to find ways to put guys away but throws some good changeups but then some not-so-good ones. I think he's really trying to put his fastball in better spots so that his other pitches play better."

Mejia, 24, showed flashes as a rookie last season, posting a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts, but he averaged just 4 2/3 innings per outing. He surprisingly made the Opening Day roster over Jose Berrios last season and is considered a bit of a dark horse again this year because he can be optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins also want to see what they have in Hughes and Sanchez.

"To be honest, last year was last year," Mejia said. "I'm happy I made the team, but it's a new year. I'm just concentrating on his year and going forward. I want to make the team."

As for his weight going forward, Mejia said there's no target in mind, but he likes the way he feels now better than last season.

"I don't have any limits," Mejia said. "The more I lose the better. It makes me feel better. I just want to be healthy, make the team and get ready for the start of the season."

Video: MIN@STL: Mejia whiffs Molina to end the 3rd inning

Camp battles
• Lefty Gabriel Moya, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, threw a perfect fifth inning with a strikeout to lower his ERA to 1.80 in four Grapefruit League outings. With fellow lefties Taylor Rogers and Zach Duke locks to make the bullpen, Moya is a bit of a longshot to break camp with the Twins, but he's helped his cause with a strong start to the spring.

"He's always been a reverse-split guy with that changeup being tremendous against right-handers," Molitor said. "He's working on a third pitch [a slurve] that he's trying to use to get out left-handers. But he acts like he belongs and I think he thinks he belongs. But to have too many people who are deserving would be a good thing."

• Utility man Ehire Adrianza made his first start in left field and went 2-for-3 with an RBI to improve his average to .348 this spring. Adrianza is considered highly likely to make the club as a backup infielder/outfielder.

Injury updates
• Right-hander Ervin Santana returned from New York after getting his cast and sutures removed from his surgically repaired right middle finger on Monday. Santana is still expected to miss the first 2-to-4 weeks of the regular season.

Video: Twins dealt huge blow with Santana surgery

• Catcher Jason Castro, who hadn't played since Feb. 27 after experiencing migraines, returned to the lineup against the Orioles, going 0-for-1 with a walk and sacrifice fly.

Up next
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi is slated to make his second Grapefruit League start on Wednesday against the Red Sox at 12:05 p.m. CT at JetBlue Park. Other pitchers scheduled to see action include Duke, Addison Reed, Ryan Pressly, Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss and Felix Jorge. The game can be heard live on Gameday Audio.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Ehire Adrianza, Jason Castro, Adalberto Mejia, Gabriel Moya, Ervin Santana