July 2009

Bring on the list

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen might compete against each other on the baseball field. But when it comes to the list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during a random test in 2003, the two managers hold the same belief — release the list already.

“Just like everybody said, it’s getting old,” Gardenhire said on Friday afternoon. “It’s sad. It just keeps chewing at you. Every time you turn on the TV another name gets leaked off this list. So just put the list out there. If they are going to keep leaking the stinkin’ thing, put the whole list out there and let’s get it out of the way.”

Gardenhire’s comments came one day after a New York Times report revealed David Ortiz and Manny
Ramirez as the latest players to be included on the 2003 list. Guillen’s sentiments were played all over the national news Thursday as he begged for someone in baseball to get the list out, calling it “embarrassing” and “a joke.”

It’s a feeling that Gardenhire seems to share.

“They keep saying it’s not legal for them to get this list but somebody is getting it and somebody is doing it,” the Twins manager said. “Either find the mole or put the list out there.”

The latest report hit a little closer to home for Gardenhire since it involved Ortiz, a former Twin. Gardenhire was a coach with the Twins for most of Ortiz’s tenure with the club before becoming manager in 2002 — the final year that Ortiz spent in Minnesota.

“Papi is a great guy,” Gardenhire said. “He’s one of the funniest guys in baseball. Always a big smile. It’s hard hearing something like that about him. My heart goes out to him.”

Gardenhire knows this is a tough time for Ortiz having his name revealed on the list. But the skipper feels it would be best for baseball as a whole to just get all the names out in the open rather than to continue to have these reports leaked out from time to time.

“I don’t wish it on anybody but the list is what it is,” Gardenhire said. “Lots of guys have been involved in it. Get it all out and let’s get it over with”.

Wednesday Lineups: Twins vs. White Sox

White Sox (51-50)
2nd place in AL Central, 2.0 games back

Scott Podsednik, CF
Gordon Beckham, 3B
Jermaine Dye, RF
Paul Konerko, DH
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Mark Kotsay 1B
Carlos Quentin, LF
Jayson Nix, 2B
Ramon Castro, C
Pitching: RHP Jose Contreras (4-9, 4.08)

Twins (51-50)
2nd place in AL Central, 2.0 games back


Denard Span, LF
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, SS
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing (0-1, 5.50)

Liriano scratched from start vs. White Sox

Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano had some swelling in his left forearm on Tuesday night and will not start tonight’s game against the White Sox.

Left-hander Brian Duensing will instead get the start.

Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said that team doctors examined Liriano on Tuesday night after the pitcher arrived at the ballpark with his left forearm swollen. The plan was to check on the pitcher again when he arrived at the ballpark today and the club was going to make a decision at that time about Liriano’s start.

“The trainers and doctors will take a look at him again and then it will be up to [manager] Ron Gardenhire, [pitching coach] Rick Anderson and [trainer] Rick McWane whether he’ll pitch tonight,” Antony said earlier today..

The injury to Liriano, who is 4-10 with a 5.56 ERA this season, is a concern for a Twins rotation that’s already thin on depth. Earlier this week the club lost Kevin Slowey for the rest of the year after it was decided he would undergo surgery on his right wrist to repair a bone chip.

Monday Lineups: Twins vs. White Sox

Joe Crede (sore right shoulder) was on the field for batting practice this afternoon. He took some swings and made some throws from across the field. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Crede reported feeling good following the swings so it’s a possibility that Crede could DH on Tuesday.

The loss of Kevin Slowey from the rotation for the rest of the year is “disappointing,” Gardenhire said. Still, the skipper feels it’s a better alternative than Slowey pitching through pain and risk doing further damage.

The Twins’ depth at starting pitching is now thin — with no real options remaining at Triple-A Rochester. Anthony Swarzak will remain in Slowey’s spot but if the Twins need another starter it likely will come from their bullpen — R.A. Dickey, Bobby Keppel or Brian Duensing.

Also of note, the White Sox do not have a left-handed reliever in their bullpen for tonight’s game. Matt Thornton’s wife went into labor so he left to be with her. 

Here are your lineups:

White Sox (51-48)
2nd place in AL Central, 2.0 games back

Scott Podsednik, CF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jermaine Dye, RF
Paul Konerko, 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Carlos Quentin, LF
Gordon Beckham, 3B
Jayson Nix, 2B
Josh Fields, DH
Pitching: LHP John Danks (9-6, 3.98)

Twins (49-50)
3nd place in AL Central, 4.0 games back


Denard Span, LF
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jason Kubel, DH
Brendan Harris, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, SS
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: LHP Glen Perkins (5-6, 5.55)

Slowey expected to miss rest of season

Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey will undergo surgery on his right wrist to remove a bone chip and he’ll likely miss the rest of the season.

Slowey, who was put on the disabled list on July 4 with a strained right wrist, had been trying to rehab the injury but suffered a setback on Friday. While preparing for a start with Triple-A Rochester, Slowey was unable to play catch and the team shut the pitcher down.

After speaking with team doctors and trainers on Monday, Slowey said the decision was made for him to undergo surgery. The recovery and rehabilitation time following surgery is 2-4 months.

Slowey, who was 10-3 with a 4.86 ERA this season for the Twins, expects to head to Baltimore and have the surgery performed by hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Graham.

“It’s difficult,” Slowey said of the timing. “I’ll continue to be here and hang out with the guys and do everything that I can to get back as quickly as possible. I think the most important thing for me is to get ready for next year now, to get this done and to prepare for being able to be part of the team as soon as possible.”

The injury stems from an incident last September when Slowey was hit on the wrist by a Juan Uribe line drive during a start against the White Sox. Slowey said doctors told him he had a pre-existing bone chip that was aggravated by the blunt force. At the time, Slowey had a cortisone shot in his wrist.

While he had some pain in the wrist doing everyday things, Slowey said it didn’t bother him pitching until a couple of starts before the All-Star Break.While he tried to rehab from the injury, Slowey said he realized Friday that he could not continue on with the pain.

Mauer gets a day off

Relax everyone, nothing is wrong with Joe Mauer. The time had just come when manager Ron Gardenhire felt that his catcher needed a breather and after Mauer went 0-for-6 for the first time in his career last night while catching 12 innings vs. the Rangers, today seemed like the perfect time.

I’ll have more on Mauer’s recent slowdown at the plate in a story a little later. But for all the emails I’ve been getting blaming the Home Run Derby for Mauer’s recent slump, here’s the reality — it goes back further than the All-Star Break.

So everyone just take a step back. Forget about all the concern surrounding the All-Star catcher and realize he’s still hitting .358 (yes, that’s impressive.)

News today….Kevin Slowey (strained right wrist) threw a bullpen session and felt good. He’ll throw another bullpen on Wednesday before flying to join Triple-A Rochester. Slowey will start for Rochester on Saturday and then a decision will be made on whether he needs a second start before rejoining the ballclub.

Joe Crede (mild strain of the AC joint in his right shoulder) is still sore, but the doctors expect the anti-inflammatory medication to help get rid of the soreness in a couple days. At that time Crede should be ready to get back in the lineup.

The Twins are facing left-hander Gio Gonzalez for the first time tonight. Left-handers have done much better against Gonzalez than right-handers (.455 vs. .316). So Gardenhire said he wanted to make sure to keep Jason Kubel in the lineup.

Twins (47-45)
3nd place in AL Central, 2.0 games back


Denard Span, LF
Nick Punto, SS
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jason Kubel, DH
Delmon Young, DH
Brendan Harris, 3B
Mike Redmond, C
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: RHP Nick Blackburn (8-4, 3.06)

A’s (38-51)
4th place in AL West, 14 games back

Adam Kennedy, 3B
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Scott Hairston, CF
Matt Holiday, LF
Jack Cust, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C
Daric Barton, 1B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Pitching: LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 6.29)

Going for a sweep…Sunday Lineups: Twins at Rangers

The Twins are closing out their series against the Rangers in Texas tonight and will be going for the series sweep. The last time that Minnesota swept a three-game series in Texas was Sept. 7-9, 1976.

Third baseman Joe Crede (mild strain of the AC joint in his right shoulder) is not in the lineup for the finale with Texas and is still listed as day-to-day. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Crede believes that the medication given to him by the doctors will help clear up the problem. But it’s still not known just when Crede might be back.

Kevin Slowey is still on schedule to throw a bullpen session tomorrow in Oakland. It’s the first of two bullpens he’ll likely throw before heading out on a Minor League rehab stint.

Jason Kubel’s brother-in-law, right-handed pitcher Michael Tonkin, was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week ending on July 18. Tonkin, who is currently pitching for the Twins Gulf Coast League squad, made one start during the week and pitched seven scoreless innings. He recorded 15 strikeouts in the start and scattered just two hits with no walks. He is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in four apperances (three starts) this season

As for the golf fans out there, I talked with some of the guys in the clubhouse today about Tom Watson’s heart-breaking finish at the British Open. I was one of those people openly rooting for the 59-year-old to defeat the odds and win yet another Major title. It seems I wasn’t the only one who was sad at the finish — despite the fact that Stewart Cink is also a tremendous player and one who deserves a Major on his resume.

Gardenhire said he watched the finish of the tournament in his hotel room and that Watson’s 18th hole in regulation, when he missed a par putt that would have given him the championship, felt just like the ninth inning of a ballgame.

“I was so nervous and then he missed the putt and I was like…(starts to pace around the room to mimic his reaction),” Gardenhire said. “That’s what it was like for me. I was so into it and wanted him to make that putt. Just to say why not. Why can’t it happen?…To watch him play, that was unbelievable. I like Stewart Cink and I felt bad for him. He’s going to win a Major Championship, but you’ve got Tom Watson there and that’s incredible. It was really emotional.”

Twins (47-44)
2nd place in AL Central, 1.5 games back


Denard Span, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brendan Harris, 3B
Delmon Young, DH
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, SS
Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-9, 5.47)

Rangers (48-41)
2nd place in AL West, 3.5 games back

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, DH
Andruw Jones, LF RF
Hank Blalock, 1B
Marlon Byrd, CF
Nelson Cruz, RF David Murphy, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Elvis Andrus, SS
Pitching: LHP Derek Holland (3-5, 5.97)

Twins sign veteran Grudzielanek to Minor League deal

The Twins have signed veteran second baseman Mark Grudzielanek to a Minor League deal, and will be assigning him to one of their Minor League affiliates shortly.

The move was first reported by longtime Twins blogger Seth Stohs (www.sethspeaks.net) and confirmed by Twins General Manager Bill Smith on Sunday afternoon.

Grudzielanek is expected to report to the Twins’ Gulf Coast League squad in Fort Myers, Fla., and he’ll then be assigned to one of the Twins’ minor-league affiliates.

Grudzielanek, 39, has not played this season but batted .299 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 86 games with the Kansas City Royals in 2008. During his 14 Major League seasons, he’s combined to hit .290 with 2,010 hits.

A Type B free agent this past offseason, Grudzielanek went unsigned until now after making $4.5 million with the Royals in 2008.
 
“He hasn’t played this year, but he’s been working out and he’s healthy,” Smith said. “We’re going to bring him down to Fort Myers and see what he does. He’s been a tremendous offensive player over the last seven to eight years.”

The signing of Grudzielanek gives the organization another potential middle infield option behind second baseman Alexi Casilla, who was just recalled from Triple-A Rochester over the weekend. Casilla, who is batting .175 in 36 games for the Twins this season, has been part of a rotating trio of second baseman that has also included Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto but that group has combined to hit just .190.

“Our hope is that Alexi Casilla takes the second base job and runs with it,” Smith said. “That’s our first choice. But if not, here is a guy that’s a proven Major League veteran. He’s hit over .290 every year since 2002 and so we’re going to get him out with one of our Minor League clubs.”

Watching from afar

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire always knew that Garrett Jones had power potential, so he hasn’t exactly been surprised by the show that Jones is putting on with his new organization.

Jones was the hero for the Pirates on Friday night when he hit two home runs — including a walkoff shot in the 14th inning — to carry Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win over the Giants.

It was a continuation of the success that Jones has been having with the Pirates. Since being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 30, Jones has hit seven home runs in 12 games for the Pirates. He’s currently homered in four consecutive games and has batted .313 with nine RBIs in those 12 games.

“I think everybody has always said that if this guy could figure it out and get going and relax enough to let it happen, boy,” Gardenhire said. “Because you watch him in batting practice and sometimes in games when he got ahold of a one, the ball went as far off his bat as anybody’s. I don’t think you’ll find anybody more excited than us to watch those highlights and see those home runs because he’s a quality, quality, person.”

Prior to this season, Jones had spent the last seven years in the Twins organization — including the majority of his past four seasons at Triple-A Rochester. His only previous Major League experience came in 2007, when he batted .208 (16-for-77) with two home runs in 31 games for Minnesota.

Jones didn’t get a call-up last season, playing all year for Rochester. There were some pundits who said that perhaps the club had kept the power hitting infielder in the organization for too long.

But Gardenhire said that the club always knew Jones had the potential, now he has just taken advantage of getting consistent playing time. With the Twins he was expected to come off the bench since the club had Justin Morneau entrenched at first base and a crowded outfield.

“That was a role that was really hard for him,” Gardenhire said. “His swing needed to be out there every day. He needed to be getting 500 swings. I don’t think there was a question he could hit 20 home runs if he got 500 at-bats,. it was whether he could do the role we had for him.”

Things didn’t work out for Jones in Minnesota, but Gardenhire said that there can’t be any regrets about that.

“Sure you wish you could have kept some guys but they move on,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the game of baseball…If they didn’t get it done here, you root for them to get it done somewhere else if they are a quality person. So [to see what Jones is doing], that’s what you hope for”.

Twins-Rangers: Saturday Lineups

Here are today’s lineups. I’ll have more later.

Twins (46-44)
3rd place in AL Central, 3.0 games back


Denard Span, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, SS
Pitching: RHP Scott Baker (7-7, 5.42)

Rangers (48-40)
2nd place in AL West, 2.0 games back

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, CF
Marlon Byrd, RF
Hank Blalock, 1B
Nelson Cruz, DH
David Murphy, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Elvis Andrus, SS
Pitching: RHP Scott Feldman (8-3, 3.83)

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