PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Pat Neshek eased though his outing against the Rays on Saturday, recording a 1-2-3 inning that was so quick that manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged the team didn't even get much of a chance to see the pitcher.
But Gardenhire has been pleased with what he has seen of Neshek's funky delivery in the right-hander's last two spring outings.
"I thought the ball was moving again," Gardenhire said. "I like what I'm seeing. He's making it look pretty easy, and you can see his confidence growing, too, when he gets out there. I don't think there is much doubt in his mind now."
There was no radar gun at Charlotte Sports Park, but Gardenhire said he was told that Neshek's fastball hit 89 mph in his outing against the Pirates on Wednesday in Bradenton. It's an increase from what the right-hander was throwing in his stint with the club at the end of last season, which the team believed might have been related to arm fatigue in Neshek's first full season back following Tommy John surgery.
"He had some pop in it, the ball jumped out of his hand a lot better," Gardenhire said of Neshek's outing against the Pirates. "If he can just progress slowly through Spring Training and maintain velocity and all those things, we know what he can do at the big league level when he's throwing the ball like that."