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Blyleven says Twins' improvement has to start with pitching

Pitcher Jose Berrios arrivesfor the Minnesota Twins winter caravan stop on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum1 / 4
Fans line up for a ball park supper during the Minnesota Twins winter caravan stop on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum2 / 4
John Ryan Murphy talks about the upcoming season during the Minnesota Twins winter caravan stop on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum3 / 4
Minnesota Twins broadcaster and former player Dan Gladden talks about the winter caravan stop and dedicated fans on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum4 / 4

FARGO — The Minnesota Twins lost 103 games last season, but 200 is a number Hall of Fame pitcher and Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven brought up at the Sanctuary Events Center.

"A lot of things have to change, but it comes down to starting pitching," Blyleven said. "Do we have that guy that can pitch 200 innings other than maybe Ervin Santana? No."

The Twins Winter Caravan made a stop in Fargo on Monday, Jan. 23. Formers Twins outfielder and radio analyst Dan Gladden, team president Dave St. Peter, pitcher Jose Berrios and catcher John Ryan Murphy joined Blyleven.

The aforementioned Santana pitcher 181.1 innings in 30 starts to lead the Twins. The veteran right-hander went 7-11 with a 3.38 ERA. The 22-year-old Berrios made his Major League debut last season, pitching 58.1 innings in 14 starts.

"It starts on the mound," Gladden said. "I can't sit here and tell you that there's one thing. ... There's so many things that need to be addressed for this ballclub to go forward."

Coming off a disappointing 2016, the Twins changed their front office this offseason, hiring chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine. Minnesota pitchers and catcher report to spring training on Feb. 13 with the first full workout on Feb. 19.

"I think they want to get down to spring training (and) find out the personnel," Gladden said. "Rather than just try to implode it right away, I think they're going to take their time and see what happens in spring training."

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is coming off a monster season, batting .268 with 42 home runs and 99 RBIs. Dozier has been the subject of offseason trade talks, but those have quieted of late. The Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the reported teams interested in Dozier, made a trade for a Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsythe on Monday.

"He's got some value, but at the same time you need somebody to replace that player," Gladden said of potentially dealing Dozier.

The Twins had a 5.08 team ERA last season, ranking 29 out of 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Blyleven said starting pitchers like Kyle Gibson, Berrios and Tyler Duffey need to prove that they can provide quality innings nearing that 200 mark. Blyleven added Falvey and Levine are going to need to rebuild that starting staff along with the rest of the team.

"It's up to these guys to build a winning ballclub, they're really starting from ground zero after the frustration of the year last year," Blyleven said. "It's going to be patience and Twins fans have always shown good patience. ... Going as a fan now, you just want to see consistency."

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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