Twins reliever Daniel Duarte impresses this spring in push for roster spot

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Daniel Duarte had already been told to expect to go to Triple-A to start the season. But with the Twins’ relief corps now down three pitchers to begin the year, the 27-year-old could be impacting the Twins sooner rather than later.

The Twins claimed Duarte, who pitched in 31 games for the Cincinnati Reds last season, off waivers from the Texas Rangers in early February. There were some mechanical adjustments they believed they could make with him to keep him in the strike zone more after he walked 20 batters in his 31 2/3 major-league innings last year (5.7 walks per nine innings).

This spring?

He threw 12 1/3 innings, struck out 12 and did not issue a single walk.

“The work is getting results,” he said. “(I’m) working hard to prepare myself for the whole season. Put up some good numbers this spring training. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity soon, and I’ll be ready for the call.”

Duarte said he worked on narrowing his stride. He also was moving his head first instead of his body, which he worked on correcting.

“Last year, my stance was very wide, so sometimes I’ll leave my arm behind and there were little details that sometimes, my pitches weren’t that great and I had to put more effort in my arm to get my release point,’” he said. “But little adjustments helped, too, a lot, to get more in the zone with my pitches.”

His spring results have been an encouraging sign for the Twins, who are already down three relievers — Jhoan Duran, Caleb Thielbar and Justin Topa — to begin the season.

While the Twins previously told Duarte he’s tracking towards starting the year at Triple-A, he appears to still be in the mix for a bullpen spot out of camp — and if not now, then potentially soon into the year, pending others’ health.

“Danny’s done everything you could have asked of him. He’s come in, he’s done a really nice job throwing the ball over the plate,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “One of the reasons we claimed him was that we saw some adjustments we thought we could make, and ultimately, he’s performed and probably exceeded expectations.”

Wallner looking better

It has been a difficult spring for left fielder Matt Wallner, who collected just two hits in his first 10 games this spring. But Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been noticing encouraging signs from the slugger as camp winds down.

“I’m sure that he is trying to shorten his swing up to get to certain pitches. I’m sure that he is trying to set his eyes in different spots. I’m sure that the early spring training pressures that young players put on themselves, I’m sure that bothered him at some point along the way this spring, but those are all things that you must work through,” Baldelli said. “You have to be able to figure those things out. Those are not things that are beyond him. I think he did a good job of working through it.”

Wallner finished his rookie year in 2023 hitting .249/.370/.507 in 76 games at the major-league level. And though he went through a difficult spell this spring, Baldelli kept pledging his support for the 26-year-old.

“I think he’s, finally towards the last week, feeling like himself, knowing what pitches he’s going after,” Baldelli said. “… I think he’s finally feeling really good.”


Bailey Ober threw 4 1/3 innings in his final tune-up of the spring, giving up four home runs on Monday in the Twins’ 4-0 loss to the Braves in North Port. All of the runs scored via the longball, as he gave up a three-run shot to Marcell Ozuna and later a solo blast to Austin Riley. … The Twins will wrap up Grapefruit League play on Tuesday with Louie Varland taking the ball against the Braves. … Reliever Josh Staumont slipped in the bullpen on Monday, which prompted a visit from Baldelli and a team trainer during the game. He remained in the game.

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