Nolasco aims to rebound from poor 2014

( – Ricky Nolasco hopes to put a miserable 2014 season
behind him on Wednesday when the Minnesota Twins continue their season-opening
three-game set with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

There may not have been a bigger free agent flop in 2014 than Nolasco, who
signed a 4-year, $49 million deal with the Twins and in turn provided the
worst season of his career.

Nolasco went 6-12 and posted a career worst 5.38 ERA and also missed five
weeks with a flexor pronator strain.

Detroit, meanwhile, will turn to one of Nolasco’s former teammates in Miami,
right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who was limited to 21 starts last season because
of injuries.

When healthy Sanchez is one of the best pitchers in baseball, as over the last
two seasons he ranks fourth in ERA, seventh in WAR, and has the lowest home
run ratio allowed during that span. However, he’s never gone over 200 innings
in his nine year career.

The Twins know just how good Sanchez is, as he’s posted a 2.60 ERA in 52
innings against them dating back to 2012.

Detroit got a tremendous performance from David Price on Monday, as the former
AL Cy Young Award winner pitched into the ninth inning in a 4-0 win.

J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila each homered to lead the Tigers, who not only got
production from old faces, but also a new one. Yoenis Cespedes doubled,
tripled and scored two runs after being acquired in an offseason trade from
the Boston Red Sox.

“When Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and Victor (Martinez) don’t have it, we have to
find it from other places in the lineup,” said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus.
“Today we were able to do that.”

Price (1-0), who the Tigers acquired from Tampa Bay last season prior to the
trade deadline, got his third straight Opening Day nod and made the most of
his first as a Tiger. The lefty went 8 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and
striking out five without a walk.

The Minnesota offense struggled in Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor’s debut as
skipper with the club. Molitor took over for long-timer manager Ron Gardenhire
in the offseason.

“(Price) had a really good day,” said Molitor. “We tried to get after him a
little bit early. They made some nice plays and we couldn’t seem to get off
the schneid to get started. He just got stronger.”

Torii Hunter, a former Tiger, went 0-for-4 in his first game back with the
Twins. He started in right field and batted fourth. Hunter spent the first 11
years of his career with the Twins before defecting for six seasons.

Suprisingly, the Twins 10 of their 19 matchups with the Tigers last season.