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Pineda makes 1st start for Twins after Tommy John surgery

March 1, 2019
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Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda throws in the second inning of their spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Michael Pineda made his first start for the Minnesota Twins as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, allowing one hit in two innings during a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday.

The 30-year-old right-hander struck out one and walked none, reaching 95 mph and throwing 18 strikes during a 26-pitch outing.

He hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since July 5, 2017, for the New York Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek operated that July 18. Pineda signed with the Twins in December 2017 and as he neared a return late last season, he tore the meniscus in his right knee.

“I want to be healthy and compete. I’m not focused on the velocity,” he said. “My goal is to be healthy and get some focus and be back and be Michael Pineda, back like he used to be.”

Minnesota plans to use Pineda as their third or fourth starter.

Pineda missed on several changeups.

“I’m very pleased with the outing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Getting back on the mound and spinning the ball a little bit and getting a feel for what he’s doing, Mike did all that today. It was a successful day. It was a good day to build him up a little bit as well. Exactly where we want to be right now.”

Marwin Gonzalez, who agreed to a $21 million, two-year contract with Minnesota, was 0 for 2 in his first spring training game, which included an 11-pitch at-bat his second time at the plate. The third baseman also made a nice defensive play in the first inning

Byron Buxton hit his third home run and Trevor May, competing for the closer’s job, pitched a scoreless fifth inning.

Rafael Devers doubled and Sandy Leon hit his first home run, a two-run drive.

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