FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Liam Hendriks shrugged off the fly ball that Josh Willingham lost in the sun and put the right-hander in a jam. He thought it helped him out.
“It happens,” said Hendriks, a native of Perth, Australia. “It almost helps me. I got to try and work out some jams and have some guys on base. I felt really good. The ball is coming out of my hand really good. I was really happy with it.”
Competing for a spot in the Minnesota Twins’ rotation, Hendrick gave up two runs and four hits in three innings of an 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
One of the runs scored with the help of that lost fly ball that turned into a double for Leslie Anderson.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hopes Hendriks have as much success in the major leagues as he had in the minors last year.
In 16 starts for the Twins, Hendriks was 1-8 with a 5.59 ERA. In 16 starts for Triple-A Rochester, Hendriks went 9-3 with a 2.20 ERA.
“He didn’t pitch aggressive when he was in the big leagues,” Gardenhire said. “He pitched like he was trying to not give up hits instead of trying to get outs. His confidence got a little bit better as we went along. It’s just a process here. Now he has to do it this level.
“The way he’s going to do it is by attacking. Pounding that strike zone and moving hitters off the plate. I thought he showed that today,” Gardenhire added.
Hendriks chose not to play for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic in order to focus on winning a roster spot. The 24-year-old has a 3.38 ERA after three spring starts.
“My first start, I was kind of just getting my feet wet,” Hendriks said. “I was a little bit shaky. My second outing was really good. This outing, this is the best I’ve felt this spring training. I was able to locate my slider. I was able to locate my curveball. My warmup today was horrendous. As soon as I got on the mound, I just turned it up.”
Rays starter Matt Moore struggled with his mechanics. He struck out two but gave up two walks and two runs off two hits in 2 2-3 innings.
“I’m just trying to figure out exactly what is going on,” said Moore, who has a 9.00 spring ERA after two starts. “It’s frustrating, obviously. You want to do well, whether it’s spring training or a regular game.”
Twins reliever Tim Wood blew a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning, giving up five runs on five hits and a walk.
“He couldn’t hold runners,” Gardenhire said. “They were running all over him. He got his work in, but those are the things we’re looking for, to see what you can do when you’re out there.”
Rays relieiver Juan Sandoval, trying to make the big leagues after losing sight in his right eye in a hunting accident seven years ago, struck out one and earned the save, his second of spring training.
“I felt great,” Sandoval said. “I feel like I’m getting better every day. I was just trying to keep the ball down, let them put the ball in play and see what happens.”
NOTES: Rays DH Luke Scott (hamstring tightness) sat out Tuesday’s game, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said the injury wasn’t serious. … Twins CF Darin Mastroianni, competing for a starting spot, continues recovering his own hamstring problem and may not be ready to play until next week.
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