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NEW YORK – Results aside in Chris Paddack's four-inning outing against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, there was one positive he demonstrated from his first pitch.

Paddack was sitting 96-97 mph with his fastball in the first inning, and he averaged 95 mph across his start, almost a 2 mph jump from his season average.

"My stuff was there, man," said Paddack, before adding, "Cole Sands gets a big shout out. He broke down some mechanical stuff for me."

Sands, the Twins reliever, earned the assist after chatting with Paddack on the team plane following Paddack's last start, in which Paddack didn't throw any fastballs faster than 93.1 mph, and he had a couple fastballs clocked at 89 mph. Sands watched video of Paddack's delivery, and suggested a tweak in the way Paddack pitches with his legs.

The two pitchers talked about Paddack keeping his right heel on the ground a touch longer, which shifts his weight from his toes, and pushing through a little more with his right quad.

"I'm not necessarily a pitching coach, but I've studied a lot of mechanics over the past five, six years," Sands said. "Doing so myself, there are things that I've had to learn the hard way. After just watching a little clip, I was like why don't you just try doing this little thing here? He said [Tuesday], the day before he threw, 'Hey, man, I'm back.' I was like, 'All right, we'll see.'"

Sands had the same mechanical tweak suggested to him from an offseason pitching coach at Tread Athletics in Charlotte, North Carolina. He went from averaging 91 mph with his fastball in 2022 to throwing 91 mph cutters this year and sitting at 95 mph with his fastball.

"I do a lot of dry work, mirror work to try to stay in good positions," Sands said. "He's always giving me crap for it. He jokingly, after we talked about what to change, he's like, 'Dude, on my off day, I was doing a lot of dry work.' It looked like it worked. It's hard to have an overnight fix, but that was pretty much an overnight fix."

Sands admitted to Paddack he hoped the tweak would help the starter increase his velocity to 93-94 mph Wednesday. Seeing 97 mph on the radar gun from the bullpen was eye-opening.

"I think he could still be 95-100 mph by the end of it," Sands said. "I think he's got a lot left in there. That was the first time doing what I told him, and he was up to 97. Let's see where he's at next outing."

Royce sits

Royce Lewis homered in his first two games off the injured list, but he was out of the lineup for Thursday's series finale at Yankee Stadium.

"His first week or 10 days back, he's going to have two or three days where he's not starting," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, noting Lewis is expected to play all three games in Pittsburgh this weekend. "Just with the sheer amount of workload he's put on his body to this point, he wasn't going to just come back and play every day for a month. He was going to have a day or two."

Baldelli and multiple teammates, including Byron Buxton, cautioned Lewis about learning to pick his spots when he's running with 100% effort. He appeared to heed that advice, running at closer to 85% speed when he grounded out in the ninth inning on a comebacker to the mound in a four-run game.

"We're not going to take his ability to play the game away," Baldelli said. "He's still going to be out there doing his thing, but when you watch baseball over 162 games and a long six months, there are times where you're going to cut it loose and there are times where you're still going to go hard, but maybe you're not cutting it loose."

Saints split pair

Matt Wallner, Tony Kemp and Anthony Prato homered in the fourth inning and the St. Paul Saints earned a 5-3 victory over the Syracuse Mets in the first game of their doubleheader Thursday at CHS Field.

Wallner homered again in the second game, but the Saints lost 9-4 as Louie Varland gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks in three innings to fall to 2-9 on the season between the majors and minors.