After right-hander Anthony Swarzak held the Angels hitless for seven innings and finished with one hit allowed in eight shutout innings in Saturday's 1-0, 10-inning win, many might have been wondering where that version of Swarzak had been for the last year-plus.
Swarzak, 25, had some success in his first season in the big leagues back in 2009, twice giving the Twins seven shutout innings in a start, but the right-hander disappeared in 2010, never even seeming close to another call up from the minors.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he believes Swarzak was mired in a season filled with injuries and mechanical issues, but the organization was impressed right away with Swarzak this spring. The pitcher showed up 25 pounds lighter, the weight loss brought on by food poisoning during winter league baseball but kept up nonetheless.
"(He) kind of lost a feel for the strike zone and his breaking ball, and he went through a lot of different things, I think," Gardenhire said of Swarzak's 2010 season. "He was cleaned up pretty good. He was in great shape, and he was healthy, and we saw mechanically, we saw a really different pitcher, which we told him that when we sent him out. Really, the big difference (was) the way the ball was coming out of his hand, his consistency with his mechanics, and he had a little spin on the breaking ball that he had lost."
Gardenhire said Swarzak will start again in left-hander Francisco Liriano's place if Liriano, sidelined with left shoulder inflammation, is unable to throw his regularly scheduled bullpen Tuesday. Liriano told Gardenhire on Saturday that his shoulder was still quite sore, but Sunday the lefty reported that he felt much better. Gardenhire joked that Swarzak's gem promoted healing in Liriano's shoulder, saying, "A no-hitter will do that."
The Twins did not get a gem like Swarzak's Sunday, falling to the Angels 6-5.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.