DUNEDIN, Fla. â?? John Ryan Murphy caught late-career CC Sabathia in 15 games while with the New York Yankees, so it was fair to wonder Monday afternoon if working with burly Adalberto Mejia caused any flashbacks.
“They’re both big lefties,” said Murphy, who caught the first seven innings of the Twins’ 8-2 exhibition victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. “I never caught CC when he was throwing that hard, I guess.”
Aside from back-to-back solo homers that Mejia allowed after Murphy left the game, the 23-year-old did his part to keep the pressure on in his bid to win the final spot in the season-opening rotation. Lowering his spring earned-run average to 1.88, Mejia struck out three and threw 21 fastballs at 94 mph or better.
He did that while posting a strike percentage of 68.2 on a 66-pitch afternoon that followed five efficient, scoreless innings from right-hander Tyler Duffey.
“I really like Mejia, man,” Murphy said. “What sticks out to me is his aggression. His demeanor on the mound is, ‘I’m on top of you, I’m getting strike one and I’m going to get after it.’ As a catcher, you love that.”
Murphy caught Mejia last August at Triple-A Rochester after the Twins acquired the pitching prospect from the San Francisco Giants for Eduardo Nunez. In Murphy’s estimation, Mejia has four-plus pitches: fastball, change-up, curveball and slider.
“Hitters’ swings will tell you how the breaking ball is,” Murphy said. “It’s very fun to catch a guy who can do that with the ball. He’s really good to both sides of the plate. Today he was …
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