ORLANDO, Fla. — Early in spring training, Manager Billy Gardner didn't like what he saw in a sore-armed rookie pitcher who was trying to earn a spot on the Minnesota Twins' roster.
But that pitcher assured his manager that "he ain't seen nothing Yett"--and then Richard Yett went and proved it.
"If I get a real chance, there isn't any way I won't make the team," says Yett, a confident 22-year-old who has progressed up the Twins' organizational ladder since starting with their Rookie League team as a 17-year-old in 1980.
At first, Yett didn't get a chance because he came to camp with an ailing shoulder--an injury he had ignored until he reported.
"I had a little tendinitis in the shoulder," he says. "It feels a lot better now. During the off-season, it hurt. But I have a real chance to be the No. 4 or 5 starter on this team and I didn't want to tell anyone about the shoulder. It felt good when I got here, but then it started acting up."
Yett underwent treatment and made his first spring-training appearance March 15. He has pitched superbly several times since and has become one of the best pitchers on the staff.
"I'm very pleased with Rich Yett," Gardner says. "We were worried, but he's strong as a bull and he pitched through his problem."
Yett says he needs only experience to become a solid major-leaguer.
"Technically, I don't need to improve on anything," the right-hander says. "Everything has been working for me. But I still have a lot to learn. Experience is the thing."
Gardner, who spends quite a bit of time watching video tapes with pitching coach Johnny Podres, agrees.
"He has a beautiful delivery," the manager says. "We watch these tapes to see if we can pick up some flaws or something, but Yett throws the same way every time."
Yett moved on to Class A in 1981, to a better Class A league in 1982, to Class AA in 1983 and to Class AAA in 1984.
At each stop, Yett's earned run average was below four per game, capped by last year's 3.25 performance at Toledo of the International League.
He doesn't mince words when stating his goal for 1985: "Starting rotation."
"In five years of minor-league ball, 700 innings, I've always been a starter," he says. "I wouldn't know what it is to be a reliever."
He won't have to find out Yett.
"Rich Yett has shown," Gardner says, "that we can give him the ball and he'll win some games for us."