Pelfrey OK with mixed results in return to mound
Former Met allows three runs in 1 2/3 innings after 10-month layoff
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It wasn't the prettiest of outings, but Mike Pelfrey still came away mostly pleased with his spring debut against the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
In his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 1, Pelfrey gave up three runs on five hits, including a two-run homer to Adam Lind, over 1 2/3 innings. But considering he's ahead of schedule in coming back from his elbow surgery, he was fine with the results.
"The first one is always the toughest, whether it's the first one to start the spring or the first one to start the season," Pelfrey said. "I think it's even more special because it's only been 10 months since the surgery to be on the mound against another team. So, it was good to get it out of the way."
Pelfrey admitted he was a bit nervous before the start, as it was the first time he'd pitched in a game since April 21.
He threw live batting practice three times last week in anticipation of his first outing, but said it wasn't quite the same as pitching against another team in a game, even it's just Spring Training.
Pelfrey was hit around early -- he gave up hits to four of the first five batters he faced -- before settling down and retiring four of the last five batters he faced, including back-to-back strikeouts to end the first inning.
"You just don't know what to expect," Pelfrey said. "It's good to go out there and get my reads. Hitters are always gonna let you know how you're feeling and how it looks. And after those first five hitters, I thought I was better. But you can't allow that to happen for the first five hitters of the game, so I'll have to work that out and get better."
Pelfrey said the key will be improving his command, as it's often the last thing that comes after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He threw a good amount of strikes -- he threw 22 strikes and 10 balls -- but said they weren't all properly located.
"I threw a lot of strikes, but I don't know if they were a lot of quality strikes," he said. "There were a lot over the middle of the plate. But I thought I got a little better after those first five guys where four of them got hits. I kind of settled down a little bit."
Pelfrey knows he still has plenty of work to do this spring, and still needs to get acclimated to pitching with his new team after spending the previous seven seasons with the Mets.
His lack of experience with the Twins led to a funny moment when he was taken out of the game in the second inning, as he wasn't sure whether to give the ball to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire or reliever Ryan Pressly.
When Pelfrey was with the Mets it was their custom to wait to give the ball to the incoming reliever, but it's not the case in Minnesota, so Pelfrey wasn't sure what to do when Gardenhire came to the mound.
"I asked if he wanted the ball, and he said, 'Yeah, I'll take the ball. But you're bigger than me, so you let me know,'" Pelfrey said, smiling. "So, I just told him with the Mets we always waited for the reliever. So, it was just a little confusing. I didn't want to disrespect anyone."
Pelfrey also added that he was fine with his velocity, even though his fastball averaged about 88 mph, according to the scoreboard at the stadium. His fastball usually averages about 92 mph, but said that it usually takes him a while in spring to bring up his velocity, as he was at 82-84 mph in his first start last spring before getting to 92-94 mph by the time the regular season started.
"I've always been a guy who takes a little bit to get going and build the arm strength," Pelfrey said. "So I looked back there and saw 88, 89, 90 mph and I don't know if it's accurate or not, but for February I thought it was pretty good.
Pelfrey said he's excited to keep building up his arm strength moving forward this spring and is hoping for a better outing next time out.
"It wasn't the greatest results, I think you always want to have positive results, but I walked off feeling good and that's the most important thing," Pelfrey said. "March 1 will be 10 months [removed from] Tommy John [surgery], so it's another milestone. So, that'll be exciting. But, overall, in my first outing, I was pretty pleased."