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Berríos keeping his focus on the field

Twins' young ace says contract extension talks can wait
@dohyoungpark
March 13, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- José Berríos has seen teammates Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each ink five-year extensions this spring to buy out their remaining arbitration years, but the Twins' young ace remains happy to keep his focus on baseball as he waits for any possible talks to develop.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- José Berríos has seen teammates Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each ink five-year extensions this spring to buy out their remaining arbitration years, but the Twins' young ace remains happy to keep his focus on baseball as he waits for any possible talks to develop.

"I have agents that have talked with them already so far," Berríos said. "We're waiting for the best for both sides. I'm ready. I'm waiting for that moment. If it doesn't happen this year, maybe next year. The only thing I have is to keep working like I've been doing so far."

The 24-year-old Berríos, who was recently named the Twins' youngest Opening Day starter since Brad Radke, will enter his final pre-arbitration year in 2019. He remains a prime candidate for extension talks and could become the team's first long-term ace since Johan Santana. With 202 strikeouts in his first All-Star campaign last season, he became the first Twins pitcher to reach the 200-strikeout mark since Francisco Liriano in 2010.

"Every player wants to sign a multi-year deal, but we know it's a business," Berríos said.

Berríos, who said he felt great about his fastball command and changeup movement over 3 1/3 innings in the Twins' 9-5 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday, said that he doesn't feel any pressure in lacking long-term certainty for the time being.

"I'm not laying down because I don't have nothing yet," Berríos said. "That's good for me. I like it. There's no pressure, but we don't have nothing yet, so keep doing what we're doing. And when I have it, I'm going to use it in the best way to use it for my future and for my family."

Buxton hits fourth homer of spring
Byron Buxton stayed hot with his fourth homer of the spring on Wednesday, hitting a Nathan Eovaldi pitch over the replica Green Monster in left field at JetBlue Park and doubling as part of a 2-for-3 performance.

Buxton is now 10-for-25 (.400) with four homers, three doubles and 12 RBIs this spring. He trails only Miami's Lewis Brinson on the home run leaderboard and is second to Tampa Bay's Brandon Lowe in RBIs.

"When you hit that many home runs right off the bat, it’s hard for anyone to keep that pace," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But I’ve been very pleased with his [at-bats], and I think we saw some more of that today. When he’s hitting the ball on the barrel, it’s coming off pretty hot. It’s pretty impressive."

Garver fine after getting hit in head
The Twins had a brief scare in the top of the fourth inning when catcher Mitch Garver was removed from the game after being hit in the helmet by a pitch from Red Sox right-hander Colten Brewer, but Garver said following his exit that he was completely fine.

Garver said that the 94 mph pitch "barely glanced off" his helmet, and though he was removed from the game as a precaution after he was evaluated by Baldelli and assistant athletic trainer Matt Biancuzzo, he isn't worried about a recurrence of the concussion that he sustained after taking a foul ball to the mask last September.

"He actually said he was OK to stay in," Baldelli said. "I still think it was probably the right thing to get him out of there and get him checked out, so it appears like we’re in a good spot. But especially being spring training, probably the right thing."

Twins tidbits
• Shortstop Royce Lewis, the Twins' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, doubled in his return to action on Wednesday in a Minor League game with Advanced Class A Fort Myers. Lewis was invited to his first big league camp this year but suffered a strained oblique that kept him out of Major League games before he was reassigned to Minor League camp on Sunday. Baldelli has previously said that Lewis could get into Major League games before the end of the spring.

"I think the priority for Royce is to maintain health right now and get into a routine, and once he does that, I'd love to see him," Baldelli said. "I know that I'm not alone in being wishful in getting him into a Major League game or two and letting him run around with the guys he was in camp with."

• Reliever Blake Parker continued his strong spring with two more strikeouts on Wednesday, setting down both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts swinging to raise his spring total to eight strikeouts in six innings. Parker, signed this offseason to a one-year, $1.8 million contract with incentives, has liberally mixed in a new cutter with his fastball, splitter and curveball this spring.

"He’s been impressive the entire camp," Baldelli said. "He came out, he looked good initially, and nothing has changed since then. Truthfully, I don’t know how he could throw the ball much better than we have seen."

Up next
Longtime Twins second baseman Brian Dozier isn't expected to be with the Nationals when they make the cross-Florida trip from West Palm Beach to visit Hammond Stadium on Thursday. Martín Pérez will look to carry his increased fastball velocity into his fourth start of the spring as he and half of the Twins' roster stay home against the Nationals for a 12:05 p.m. CT matchup. Chase De Jong will take the mound for the split-squad team that travels to Sarasota for a 12:05 p.m. game against the Orioles.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.