JUPITER -- Kevin Slowey once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with old Minnesota Twins buddy R.A. Dickey.
So some unusual wildness in a mid-March spring training start, with a spot at the back end of the Marlins’ rotation potentially on the line, hardly fazed the veteran right-hander Monday against the Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. Looking down from 19,341 feet was just a little scarier.
“They’re different challenges,” said the 28-year-old Texan, comparing the climb of a lifetime after the 2011 season to a possible climb into the No. 5 starter’s spot. “We all want to be on the major-league team. That’s what we work toward.”
Before Monday, Slowey was unblemished this spring, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings over three relief appearances, while allowing five hits with four strikeouts. But it took one pitch against Boston to ruin the shutout streak, as Red Sox nonroster invitee Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed Slowey’s offering over the left-field fence.
“I knew Jackie Bradley has had a good spring,” Slowey said. “He knows what he’s doing out there.”
But so does Slowey, a second-round pick of the Twins in 2005 who is 39-29 with a 4.66 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP since he was called up to the majors in 2007. He has been around the block — and thousands of feet above ground — so Slowey tried to put Monday’s early misfortune behind him.
“You just sort of need to,” said Slowey, who is in camp as a nonroster invitee with no guarantees. “There’s still a lot of game left. You need to be prepared mentally and physically.”
His roller-coaster stint was just beginning though. Slowey struck out the next two batters looking, including former Pembroke Pines Flanagan High star Mike Napoli, then got a harmless fly ball to center. A perfect second inning followed, including two more strikeouts, one looking and one swinging.
Slowey seemed to be in a groove, but he knows spring starts can be fickle. The pitcher known for his control lost his in the third, walking two and then hitting a batter with two outs. It cost him, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a two-run double down the right-field line. Slowey got a groundout to get out of the inning, but the damage was done and so was Slowey for the day after giving up three earned runs.
He threw 54 pitches, but only 34 were for strikes.
“He kind of got out of whack, out of his delivery,” said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who would know, having caught Slowey when he got to the big leagues in 2007. “The first pitch, he gives up a home run. Whatever.”
Redmond wasn’t concerned, probably because he knows it’s a long spring and because he knows Slowey.
“It was his first start. He was OK,” Redmond said. “You know what you’re going to get out of Slowey. He’s going to pound the strike zone and eat up some innings.”