June 2009

Punto exits game with bruised left ribs

Nick Punto was taken out of Saturday’s contest vs. the Astros after the sixth inning due to bruised left ribs.

It’s unclear exactly when Punto injured himself, but one guess is that it occurred when he dove head-first into first base in the fifth inning.

Punto was replaced by Matt Tolbert at second base for the start of the seventh inning.

I’ll have more on the injury after the game.

UPDATE: Punto did indeed injure himself on that head-first dive. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Punto bruised the ribs while hitting the base. Gardenhire didn’t know how serious the injury is. Punto is listed as day-to-day and the club will see how he’s feeling on Sunday.

Friday Lineups: Twins vs. Astros

When I left the Metrodome yesterday evening after the Twins 5-1 win over the Pirates, I noticed that there were some fans gathered outside the park with coolers and tents. When I got to the Dome this afternoon I realized why — it’s Kent Hrbek bobblehead day. There was a huge crowd of people gathered around the Metrodome for their chance to be one of the first 10,000 fans to get one. It always amazes me the draw that a bobblehead can have.

As for baseball news, it’s been pretty quiet so far this afternoon with most of the players getting in early work. So I’ll have more updates later.

UPDATES: Denard Span was on the field, taking some early batting practice and shagging balls in the outfield. He’s starting to feel better but the club wants to see him get through this weekend before deciding whether he’ll go on a rehab assignment at the start of the week. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire reiterated that he’d prefer to see Span get some games in before he’s activated.That’s so the club can see if the symptoms return for Span during an actual game — where he’s playing full speed and the adrenaline can kick in.

Joe Mauer, who has been battling cold-like symptoms for over a week, told Gardenhire that he was feeling much better on Friday. The hope is Mauer’s day off from the lineup on Thursday will help speed up his recovery.

 Here are the lineups.

Astros
Michael Bourn, CF
Jeff Keppinger, 3B
Miguel Tejada, SS
Carlos Lee, DH
Lance Berkman, 1B
Hunter Pence, RF
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Kaz Matsui, 2B
Darin Erstad, LF
Pitching: Roy Oswalt, RHP

Twins
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Delmon Young, LF
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Kevin Slowey, RHP

Joe Mauer gets a rest

Joe Mauer has been battling cold and flu-like symptoms since the team was in Oakland last week and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire finally felt it was time to give the catcher a rest. The skipper said that Mauer’s bat looked a bit slow on Wednesday night. So the club’s .425 hitter is out of the lineup for Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

Instead of Mauer in the DH spot for the day game, Brian Buscher gets the nod. Jason Kubel is in left field with Delmon Young getting a break today as well. Left-handers are batting .346 off Pirates starter Zach Duke while righties are hitting just .237.

Day games haven’t exactly been kind to the Twins so far this year. They are just 7-16 in day games this season while batting .246 in those contests. So they’ll see if they can end this series on a positive note, picking up not only a day win but also a series win.

Here are today’s lineups:

Pirates
Andrew McCutchen, CF
Nyjer Morgan, LF
Eric Hinske, DH
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Andy LaRoche, 3B
Brandon Moss, RF
Jason Jaramillo, C
Ramon Vazquez, 2B
Jack Wilson, SS
Pitching: Zach Duke, LHP

Twins
Carlos Gomez, CF
Brendan Harris, SS
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jason Kubel, LF
Joe Crede, 3B
Brian Buscher, DH
Mike Redmond, C
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

Wednesday Lineups: Twins vs. Pirates

A quiet day in terms of news pre-game. My associate reporter, Tyler, is doing the early slugs so you can read about how Denard Span feels about finally getting a diagnosis to his dizziness on the site in a little bit.

UPDATES: Like I said earlier, it was a quiet day in terms of news but there was an entertaining exchange on the field during batting practice.

A couple of the Vikings defensive coaches came down to watch the Twins take BP. It was their first time on the field when it was set up for baseball. They took the chance to talk with some of the Twins coaches and players, including manager Ron Gardenhire, Michael Cuddyer and hitting coach Joe Vavra.

While Gardenhire was chatting with the coaches in front of the dugout, he called Joe Mauer over to have him meet them. But he joked quickly that the catcher better head back to work, as it was Mauer’s turn to bat in the cage. Seems like Gardenhire didn’t want to risk losing his All-Star catcher if the talk turned to the possibility of Mauer returning to football. After all, even the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, joked that he was going to sign an executive order requiring the St. Paul native to be the Vikings QB in addition to catching for the Twins.

“They talked about if they don’t get [Brett] Favre, they’re coming [for Mauer],” Gardenhire kidded in reference to the Vikings coaches. “I love you Vikings but you are not getting my guy. He’s playing baseball.”

Pirates
Andrew McCutchen, CF
Nyjer Morgan, LF
Freddy Sanchez, 2B
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Delwyn Young, RF
Eric Hinske, DH
Andy LaRoche, 3B
Robinson Diaz, C
Jack Wilson, SS
Pitching: Ian Snell, RHP

Twins
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Joe Crede, 3B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Delmon Young, LF
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Francisco Liriano, LHP

Your new batting leader….Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer doesn’t have enough plate appearances to officially qualify for the American League batting title just yet, although he’s getting close. Still if the season were to end today, Mauer would be crowned the AL batting champion.

Confused?

Well, thanks to Twins Geek I stumbled across an interesting tidbit today. Heading into Tuesday’s game, Mauer was 21 plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting title. But if Mauer were to be given an 0-for-21, something to make up for his missing plate appearances, his .364 batting average still would have beat out Ichiro Suzuki’s .360 — thus giving him the title.

All of this is even before Mauer went 4-for-4 in Tuesday’s 8-2 win, raising his batting average to an astounding .429. It’s June 16 and his batting average is closer to .450 than it is .400. That’s pretty amazing in itself.

Humble as ever, Mauer doesn’t seem to like to talk about his hitting much. He won’t let on if he’s as amazed by all of this and he certainly isn’t ready to talk about whether he could possibly hit .400 for a season, a feat that hasn’t been done since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

With how great of a season that Mauer is currently putting together, I couldn’t help but laugh last weekend during a coversation I had with him. While the team was in Seattle, I took advantage of Friday’s night game to play a course near Tacoma that I’d been wanting to play — Chambers Bay, the site of the 2015 U.S. Open. I had told Mauer and Justin Morneau that I was going to play golf there so when I got a chance to talk to Mauer on Saturday, one of the first things he asked me was how golf went.

I told him I had a pretty decent round, shooting 83 while playing the course at about 6500 yards — a little bit longer than I usually play. Considering that I had rented clubs and it was a pretty challenging course, I felt pretty good overall about my round.

“You haven’t played since Spring Training, right?” Mauer asked me.

Nope, I told him.

“Geez, it must be nice to be that good,” Mauer said.

This coming from a guy that’s now hitting .429 on the season. Yeah Joe, it must be nice to be that good.

Crain optioned to Triple-A Rochester

To make room on the roster for Tuesday night’s starter Glen Perkins, the Twins have optioned right-hander Jesse Crain to Triple-A Rochester.

Crain was the losing pitcher in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Cubs in Chicago when he gave up the winning run in the ninth inning, allowing three hits and walking one to break up what had been a 2-2 tie. It was a continuation of troubles that Crain has had this season. He was 2-3 with an 8.15 ERA in 23 appearances (17 2/3 innings) for the Twins.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was frustrated after Sunday’s loss by Crain’s recent struggles.

“You try to find the right situation to put him in ballgames, but when
you get to this point, there’s no right situation,” Gardenhire said after the game.
“He’s got to go out and get outs. Our bullpen’s dying out there, and
he’s the guy that’s got to try to get somebody out, and it didn’t
happen today.”

The move to option Crain allowed Perkins to be activated from the disabled list in time for his start against the Pirates on Tuesday night. Perkins was put on the DL on May 19 with inflammation in his left elbow. He’ll be making his ninth start of the season for the Twins, going 1-3 with a 5.36 ERA in his previous eight outings.

 

And your center fielder is….Michael Cuddyer

The Twins outfield setup from the final two innings of Wednesday’s game is back for Thursday’s series finale against the A’s.

Michael Cuddyer is getting his first start of the year in center field. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Justin Morneau felt it would be a good day to DH, as he’s been getting beat up a little. And with left-handers hitting .306 vs. A’s starter Trevor Cahill while right-handers have hit just .227, Gardenhire wanted to stack as many lefties in the lineup as possible. So Jason Kubel will be in right field and Brian Buscher will play first base.

This outfield configuration could stick through this weekend for the three-game series at Wrigley Field. Gardenhire said there was no news on what has been causing Denard Span’s dizzy spells. Span saw team physician Dr. Tom Jetzer on Wednesday and was run through a battery of tests but so far nothing has been found. The outfielder is scheduled to see more doctors today. Gardenhire said it’s difficult to imagine that Span would be ready to rejoin the team on Friday as the skipper wants to find out why Span has been dizzy before returns to the lineup.

Gardenhire also said that a roster move should be coming after today’s game to activate Nick Punto (strained right groin) from the disabled list.

Here are today’s lineups as the Twins go for only their second road series win of the season:

Twins
Matt Tolbert, 2B
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, DH
Jason Kubel, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Michael Cuddyer, CF
Brian Buscher, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

A’s
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Jack Cust, RF
Matt Holliday, LF
Jason Giambi, DH
Landon Powell, C
Daric Barton, 1B
Rajai Davis, CF
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Pitching: Trevor Cahill, RHP

Also a reminder that you can follow me on Twitter @kellythesier for more Twins updates

Span headed back to Minnesota

Denard Span is flying back to Minnesota on Wednesday to see a specialist in an attempt to figure out what has been causing his lingering dizziness.

The Twins outfielder left Tuesday night’s game in Oakland after the second inning when the dizziness became too much to try to play through. It’s the second time that Span has missed time due to the problem. He did not play in games on May 24 and 25 for the Twins due to feeling dizzy and lightheaded.

While he felt a little better after taking those two games off, Span said that the problem did not go away all together. And during his second at-bat on Tuesday night, he couldn’t see the ball and it scared him.

“I feel like I can’t focus and concentrate when I’m hitting,” Span said. ‘”I kind of get away with it when I’m playing defense because things aren’t happening as fast in the outfield. The last couple days I’ve been kind of feeling the same way, but as the game would go on, things would get a little better.”

During his first episode of dizziness, Span also felt lethargic. This time he said that his energy level has been up,.

Doctors told Span initially that the dizzy spells could have something to do with his thyroid. Span said he’s not sure if that still might be the case but he just hopes to find out what is causing the problem when he gets back to Minnesota and possibly rejoin the team in Chicago this weekend..

“I don’t know what it is,” Span said. “I’ll be honest I’ve thought about different things it could be. I don’t think it’s anxiety. I’m more comfortable this year than I was last year. So I don’t feel like it’s that. I don’t know. I”m not sure if it has to do with having Lasik eye surgery on one eye and not the other. There is a lot of things I”m thinking about now and I just don’t know.”

“Hopefully I’ll find out because I’ve never felt this way playing baseball. I know how it is to be tired and go through the grind of playing a 160-plus game season but I never felt dizzy on the field. It’s scary.”

Here comes the Lefty Parade

There is something about the A’s and their ability to find left-handed pitchers, particularly starters.The Twins are currently in a stretch of facing five straight southpaws. They sawJarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard over the final two games in Seattle and now comes another trio of young Oakland lefties. Last year during the Twins long stretch of facing left-handed starters, the club saw a slew of lefties in Oakland. But now this is an entirely different group of lefties that the A’s have in their rotation, so the Twins will test their luck against some new arms they haven’t seen before.

Joe Crede is out of the lineup today with a sore left calf after he fouled a ball off it during Sunday’s contest in Seattle. Matt Tolbert gets the start at third base in his place.

With lefties batting .128 and righties batting .237 against A’s starter Josh Outman (could there be a better last name for a pitcher?), manager Ron Gardenhire said he opted against starting Jason Kubel. Instead, Delmon Young will be the designated hitter and the club will see what he can do in the series opener.

Also, the A’s had a roster move before the game. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney was placed on the disabled list with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Infielder Daric Barton was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

Today’s Lineups:

Twins
Denard Span, LF
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brendan Harris, SS
Delmon Young, DH
Carlos Gomez, CF
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: Anthony Swarzak, RHP

A’s
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Jack Cust, DH
Matt Holliday, LF
Jason Giambi, 1B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Aaron Cunningham, RF
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Rajai Davis, CF
Pitching: Josh Outman, LHP

And now for the pitching change, Rick Anderson…Saturday lineups: Twins at Mariners

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was still hobbling around on Saturday morning after injuring his hamstring during Friday’s early batting practice at Safeco Field. He was shagging in the outfield when he took a step and spun, pulling his hamstring in the process.

The injury prevented Gardenhire from being able to go to the mound to make pitching changes in Friday night’s 2-1, 10-inning win. He said it’s likely that pitching coach Rick Anderson will hold that duty again for Saturday’s contest since it’s still difficult for the skipper to walk up stairs.

“I haven’t had that feeling in a long time,” said Gardenhire, who acknowledged that he pulled his share of hamstrings during his playing career. “I took one bad step and spun with my tennis shoes a little bit.”

While Gardenhire is on injured reserve, Michael Cuddyer was back in the lineup on Saturday to face left-hander Jarrod Washburn. The Twins don’t have great career numbers vs. Washburn. Only Alexi Casilla, 4-for-12 (.333), and Brendan Harris, 5-for-10 (.500), are hitting above .300 agianst the tough lefty.

Here are today’s lineups for one of FOX’s Games of the Week.

Twins
Denard Span, CF
Joe Mauer, DH
Justin Morneau, 1B
Joe Crede, 3B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brendan Harris, SS
Mike Redmond, C
Delmon Young, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Russell Branyan, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Ken Griffey Jr., DH
Jose Lopez, 2B
Ronny Cedeno, SS
Endy Chavez, LF
Guillermo Guiroz, C
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Pitching: Jarrod Washburn, LHP