Wimmers' Wildness Augments Twins' Misery





MINNEAPOLIS—Six batters into his 2011 season, righthander Alex Wimmers had thrown more pitches over his catcher's head than through the strike zone.

Yes, the Twins are a little worried.

"How can we not be concerned? He's our (2010 first-round draft) pick, a guy we project will help us in the majors some day," senior vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "At the same time, it's one bad day in what we hope is a long career."

Still, what a day. A two-time Big Ten Conference pitcher of the year at Ohio State, Wimmers faced six batters during his April 11 debut for high Class A Fort Myers. Just four of his 28 pitches were strikes. Five reached the screen behind home plate, three via wild pitch.

It quickly became clear the 22-year-old Wimmers had no idea where the baseball was going. Wimmers exited the game after facing six batters and walking each of them. The Twins removed him not just from the game but from the Miracle roster.

The Twins have dealt with similar problems before. Shooter Hunt, a supplemental first-rounder in 2008, had walked 192 batters in 170 pro innings. "We just made the decision right away to shut (Wimmers) down and help him get himself together before it got any worse," Radcliff said.

Wimmers headed to extended spring training, where he worked for more than a month, first on conditioning and then on mechanics, before facing another hitter.

An aching hamstring affected Wimmers' arm angle, and the pressure of performing had grown overwhelming, the team reportedly concluded. Radcliff said only that "it sort of came out of left field after he dominated last year" after signing for $1.332 million and striking out 23 hitters in 16 innings, issuing just five walks.

The Twins intended to be patient, refusing to set a timetable for Wimmers' return to Fort Myers.

"The silver lining is, we were going to limit him to 120 innings this year anyway, so he isn't really behind," Radcliff said. "We just want to help him get right again."

TWIN KILLINGS

• The Twins expect Double-A New Britain righthander David Bromberg to be out of action until August after having a metal plate inserted in his pitching forearm to help mend a fracture.

• Lefty reliever Paul Bargas learned soon after reporting to spring training that he had brain cancer. He began chemotherapy treatments in early May.