Twins' Wimmers Learns From Season Of Extremes





FORT MYERS, Fla.—Alex Wimmers started last season without recording an out. He closed the year without allowing a hit.

The 23-year-old righthander knows which extreme he prefers.

"That (no-hitter) was pretty nice," the 2010 first-round pick said. "To finish that way, I sort of established myself again."

"Again" because Wimmers' career was sidetracked by a problem that he said, "I can't really explain."

The two-time Big Ten Conference pitcher of the year while at Ohio State impressed amateur scouts with a four-pitch repertoire, and then reinforced those impressions with a strong pro debut in 2010. After signing for $1.3 million, Wimmers allowed only one run on six hits during four starts for high Class A Fort Myers.

That must have seemed like a distant memory when he woke up last April 11 without the ability to throw a baseball where he wanted to. Wimmers faced six hitters and walked them all in his 2011 debut for Fort Myers. He threw three wild pitches and managed just four strikes among 28 pitches.

"There's no telling what happened. It was a numb feeling (that) I've never felt before," said Wimmers, who was immediately sent to extended spring training to work out the yips. "But I've learned a lot from the experience. As negative as it was, you have to find a way to turn it into a positive, and that's what I'm doing."

After three months of solo work to make sure the problem wouldn't recur, Wimmers resumed his career, and perhaps his rapid climb up the minor league ladder. He appeared in a dozen games for Fort Myers, including four starts, and finished the season with a 4.20 ERA and that sweet seven-inning no-hitter on Sept. 3, when he walked just two of the 21 batters he faced.

Now Wimmers hopes he can stop talking about his Steve Blass moment and focus on reaching Double-A this year.

"The point is, it's in the past," Wimmers said. "I've dealt with it, and I've moved on."

TWIN KILLINGS

• The Twins optioned shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Triple-A Rochester midway through spring training. The club spent $14.6 million to sign the former Japanese Pacific League batting champion last year, but he broke his leg early in his 2011 rookie campaign, then hit just .226/.278/.249 with shaky defense upon his return.

• The Twins also optioned righthander Deolis Guerra to Triple-A. The lone remaining asset from the February 2008 Johan Santana trade with the Mets, Guerra finally showed signs of life in the Double-A bullpen last year, notching 65 strikeouts in 52 innings.