Despite losing his first major league start, Jose Berrios' velocity and movement gave many Twins fans hope that he could be the long-term #1 or #2 starter the team desperately needs. But at least one group of fans is skeptical.
"Jose Berrios is a witch, I truly believe that," said area old-timey preacher Cyrus Hankinson, 79.
"The ball comes out of his hand in such a way that is unfamiliar, almost as if an occult hand is guiding it," said the Cambridge-based holy man, his shock of white hair tucked under a tattered, wide-brimmed hat. "The other Twins pitchers throw in a pleasing, straight, Godly fashion. There's an occasional dip or dive, but this? This is the work of Lucifer. Know him by his dark works."
Members of Hankinson's flock said they are prepared to protest outside of Berrios' next start.
"The wickedness with which the ball arrives is surely a sign of Satan's false promises," said Constance Gumsrud, 64, of Stacy. "So many young people in the stands, being led astray."
Her husband Randolph agreed, adding that Berrios was, "Like all the Devil's tricks. You see them and are dazzled, and before you even know it, you think it's normal behavior for the batter to swing and miss. It's foolishness to believe such perfidy."
Twins officials deny that Berrios is a witch.
"Yes, you'd like to see the young man put more balls in play and let his defense pick him up," said general manager Terry Ryan. "But it was his first major league start, not anything to do with witchery or the like. Let him get his feet under him a little bit."
Hankinson, whose Church of Signs and Wonders meets in an abandoned Pamida store, said he is not against Berrios continuing to pitch for the Twins, but wants him to do so the right way.
"Once he rejects Satan or doesn't float in the water, we'll be happy to have him contribute to the team."