Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gopherball central

FORT TRAFFICJAMBURG/MISERY, Fla. -- Ramon Ortiz says he wants to pitch 200 innings this season and missing the first five days of camp because of visa issues in the D.R. hasn't set him back in that quest.

“I told the pitching coach and manager: ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m ready,’ ” Ortiz said.

No one doubts that the lean right-hander is in shape or that he can log around 200 innings. The doubts are whether he can effectively pitch anymore. He hasn't been any good since 2002 with the Angels.

Twins fans should be alarmed about this: Last season, Ortiz ranked second in the NL in homers allowed (31), and Carlos Silva led the majors in that category with 38. Things could be really ugly this year, especially since it appears Ortiz doesn't seem bothered by all the gopherballs.

“Somebody told me last year, ‘You throw a lot of strikes, so why don’t you try throwing more balls.’ I said, ‘So, you want me to walk a guy and the next guy hit a home run? That’s two runs,’ ” Ortiz said. “I don’t worry about home runs. I worry about throwing seven innings every time.”

Warning: Don't make post-game plans on days he pitches.

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