Signed to a one-year, $12 million deal midway through spring training, Lynn was expected to add some stability to the Twins’ rotation as they build off a surprising wild card season a year ago.
But after giving up five runs in his first inning of work last week at Pittsburgh, Lynn is hoping for a much better showing when the home fans get their first look at him Sunday afternoon against the Mariners at Target Field.
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“It was a little bit of a battle,” Lynn said after that outing. “When you give them five in the first, you put your team in a deep hole. I’ve got to be better next time out.”
Neither Lynn nor manager Paul Molitor would use it as an excuse but having a shortened spring training certainly didn’t help Lynn. The slow winter free agent market left him without a job until agreeing to terms with the Twins on March 10. Lynn only appeared in two Grapefruit League contests, covering seven innings, though he also made a handful of starts on the minor league side to build up his arm strength.
“I don’t really think it’s related to that,” Molitor said. “He’s been around enough. (Jake) Odorizzi didn’t have a lot of innings down there either. It was a little bit rushed, we get that, but I don’t really want to try to connect the two.”
Lynn never pitched at Target Field during his six seasons with the Cardinals. He will also be making his first career appearance against the Mariners, who snapped a two-game losing skid Saturday with an 11-4 rout behind home runs from Kyle Seager and Guillermo Heredia.
Left-hander Marco Gonzales would welcome another offensive outburst like that Sunday when he makes his second start of the season.
The Mariners’ bats provided him an early boost in his 2018 debut, scoring four runs in the first inning. Gonzales went on to work a career-best 6 1/3 innings, holding the Giants to three runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts on Tuesday at San Francisco.
“The credit goes to our offense,” Gonzales said. “The four runs in the first, couldn’t ask for a bigger boost of confidence honestly, and the way they played in the field it was a huge team win all the way around.”
Gonzales missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery that April. He returned to action last season and went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 appearances (seven starts) after he was acquired in a July trade with St. Louis. He earned a spot in the Mariners’ rotation with a strong showing this spring, going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts.
“We knew that last year was his first full year and now it’s his second full year off it,” manager Scott Servais said Gonzales’ recovery. “Now he’s got all of his weapons and he’s attacking hitters a little differently than we saw last year.”
Sunday will mark his first career appearance against the Twins.