Trimming the fat: Twins believe slimmer is better for starting pitcher Boof Bonser

;FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Boof Bonser caused his share of double-takes from Twins teammates and coaches when he walked through the clubhouse upon arrival at spring training this week.

It sounded like some high-school reunion, with the 26-year-old drawing rave reviews of his trimmed physique from people who hadn’t seen him in months and everyone asking just how many pounds he lost.

“About 30,” was Bonser’s answer. That puts him at about 235 pounds, a weight the team is much more comfortable with for a leading candidate to take one of the open spots at the front of the rotation.

“He looks great. That’s kind of what we had all talked about last year at the end, something that might help him,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Bonser showed promise as a rookie in 2006, when he posted a 7-6 record and a 4.22 ERA over 18 starts and 100-plus innings and even started the second game of the opening playoff series. He held Oakland to two runs in six innings.

Last season wasn’t so smooth for the right-hander who came to Minnesota with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in the famously lopsided trade with San Francisco for A.J. Pierzynski in November 2003. Bonser went 8-12 with a 5.10 ERA in 173 innings. He made 30 starts, but he was yanked in the sixth or earlier too many times. May was excellent: a 4-0 record and 2.45 ERA. But the other months were more of a struggle.

“The numbers I put up, I obviously didn’t like that,” Bonser said. “I wasn’t too nervous. It was just the whole fact of trying to read hitters and stuff like that and learning what’s going on.”

Bonser downplayed the effect his weight had on his endurance, but he was eager to dedicate himself to a better diet and began the process soon after the Twins played their final game. He hired a nutritionist to help make better food choices, and he’s considering ordering healthy portions from an outside restaurant when the season begins to avoid the greasy, high-calorie spread in the clubhouse.

“Bonser worked hard, but he worked hard on the field and off the field,” Gardenhire said. “He worked hard at dinner time. As an athlete, you have to know how to take care of yourself.”