July 2009

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Nothing says Texas in the summer more than blistering heat and lots of sunshine. When I landed in Dallas last night, the crew announced that the temperature had fallen to 100 degrees. So the fact that it’s around 90 degrees in Arlington today is considered somewhat of a break for the Twins. However, I’m still adjusting to the “cooldown” here and it certainly feels warm to me.

Of course coming from the cool temperatures over the past few days in the Twin Cities, this heat probably feels a little more sweltering to me than usual.

The Twins open the second half with a little different looking roster. Alexi Casilla is here and gets the start at second base tonight. He’s also batting second and the hope is that he’ll be able to carry over the recent offensive success he’s had at Triple-A Rochester. Manager Ron Gardenhire also hopes that Casilla can “get the outs you are supposed to get.”

Gardy also said that he’ll mix in all three of his infielders into those two middle spots. So Nick Punto, Brendan Harris and Casilla will all see playing time.
Kevin Mulvey was also in the clubhouse this afternoon and preparing for his new role in long relief. He left 8-9 tickets for family and friends who have traveled here to Texas, hoping to see his Major League debut.

As for the All-Star Break, everyone seemed to survive their few days off just fine. Everyone that is except for bench coach Steve Liddle who came back with a few bangs and bruises from his trip with other members of the coaching staff. It was Gardenhire who came back with stitches last year after hitting his head on his Motorhome, but this year Liddle got the brunt of the mishaps as he has some cuts and bruises from various accidents during the trip. Luckily it’s nothing serious and generated more laughs than anything else.

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @kellythesier

Here are today’s lineups:

Twins (45-44)
3rd place in AL Central, 4.0 games back


Denard Span, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Brendan Harris, SS
Carlos Gomez, CF
Pitching: LLHP Glen Perkins (4-5, 4.71)

Rangers (48-39)
2nd place in AL West, 2.0 games back

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, CF
Andruw Jones, DH
Hank Blalock, 1B
Marlon Byrd, LF
Nelson Cruz, RF
Taylor Teagarden, C
Elvis Andrus, SS
Pitching: RHP Vicente Padilla (7-4, 4.53)

A 12-man pitching staff once again

The Twins have returned to a 12-man pitching staff for the start of the second half, as expected.

The club announced Wednesday that they have selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Kevin Mulvey from Triple-A Rochester and to make room on the roster for Mulvey, they have optioned catcher Jose Morales to Rochester.

Mulvey was 3-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 starts for the Red Wings this season. He’s struck out 81 batters in 103 innings while walking just 31. The 24-year-old pitcher was acquired by the Twins from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade.

Morales had been the Twins third catcher. In three stints with the team, he had batted .343 in 32 games with four doubles and four RBIs.

Attendance rises

There were concerns around baseball heading into the 2009 season as to how the recession might affect attendance.

But in the Metrodome’s final season, the Twins have actually been one of the few teams to see their attendance figures rise.

The Twins drew 36,254 fans in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox and 308,705 fans during their nine-game
homestand, for an average of 34,301.

Over 48 home dates this season, the Twins have drawn a  total of 1,357,757 fans or an average of 28,287 per game. That’s 3,240 ahead of last year’s average attendance. The Twins entered Sunday fourth in the American League in total attendance for the year and they’ve drawn more fans than any other AL Central team.

That’s quite a credit to the fans as well as the team.

Trying to close out the 1st half on a winning note

The Twins are going for a series win over the White Sox today in their last contest before the All-Star Break. Minnesota enters the game at 44-44 so a victory would guarantee the club with a winning first half.

Kevin Slowey has been backed up in his throwing program. He didn’t throw on Sunday and won’t throw again until Wednesday. So Anthony Swarzak will remain in the rotation for now. The hope had been that when Slowey came back that Swarzak could move into the bullpen.

Still manager Ron Gardenhire said that he expects the club to add a pitcher to the roster by Friday, moving the club back to a 12-man pitching staff. It’s unclear yet just who that pitcher will be. Some of the possible options at Triple-A Rochester are Jesse Crain, Rob Delaney and Juan Morillo.

Bobby Keppel said his hamstring issue was just a minor thing and he should be available to pitch today. But the Twins will also have Francisco Liriano and Swarzak in the bullpen to help if needed. Gardenhire said that Liriano would only be used to face a lefty or two while Swarzak could be used for an inning.

Lineups

White Sox
Scott Podsednik, CF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jermaine Dye, RF
Jim Thome, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Chris Getz, 2B
Gordon Beckham, 3B
DeWayne Wise, LF
Pitching: Mark Buehrle, LHP

Twins
Denard Span, LF
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, DH
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Mike Redmond, C
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Scott Baker, RHP

Hall of Fame Day at the Dome…Sat. lineups: Twins vs. White Sox

Brad Radke and former Twins vice president George Brophy are being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame tonight. It’s certainly an honor that both of them deserve for their contributions to the organization.

I’ll have more on that later on the website.

For now, here are the lineups.

White Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jermaine Dye, RF
Jim Thome, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Jayson Nix, 2B
Gordon Beckham, 3B
Brian Anderson, CF
Pitching: Gavin Floyd, RHP

Twins
Denard Span, LF
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Glen Perkins, LHP

Mauer to take part in HR Derby

Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer has officially accepted an invitation to compete in the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

Mauer will be pitched to by his high school baseball coach — Jim O’Neill of Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.

The catcher, who has already hit a career-high 15 home runs this season, will be the Twins’ lone representative in the event.

Justin Morneau, the defending champion of the Derby, declined an earlier invitation to take part in this year’s event. But Morneau said that he would be there, with one of the best seats in the house, rooting Mauer on if the catcher decided to take part in the event.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also was supportive of Mauer potentially taking part in the event. He said recently that he thought Mauer, who isn’t exactly known for his home run power, would excel in the event.

“Joe, in the home run hitting contest? He’d probably win it,” Gardenhire said. “You know it and I know it. Just to let
people know he can hit home runs. Nothing would surprise me that Joe
does.” 

Perkins still sick, Blackburn to start Fri. vs White Sox

Glen Perkins came into the ballpark on Thursday morning to see the trainers and then was sent to see team physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni to get checked for strep throat. Perkins has been battling a fever and a very sore throat.

With Perkins still ill, Nick Blackburn will get the start against the White Sox on Friday. Saturday’s start is still in question as it depends on Perkins’ health. If Perkins can’t go Saturday, the Twins will turn to either Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel or R.A. Dickey to make the spot start.

Brendan Harris and Joe Crede are getting a rest for the series finale with the Yankees. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Harris has been playing a lot of baseball lately and felt it time to give Harris’ legs a rest. For Crede, it’s just a day game after night game rest because Gardenhire doesn’t want to push it with his third baseman.

The rest days also give Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher a chance to start for the Twins

Kevin Slowey (strained right wrist) will begin his throwing program on Friday. He’ll play catch from 60 feet and then move to 90 feet on Sat. Gardenhire said that Slowey will stay in the Twin Cities for the All-Star Break and will continue his throwing at the Metrodome. He’s expected to make a five-inning Minor League start before he returns from the DL. Slowey is eligible to return on July 19.

A reminder that you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Here are your lineups as the Twins try to prevent the season sweep by the Yankees.

Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, LF
Cody Ransom, 3B
Brett Gardner, CF
Pitching: Alfredo Aceves, RHP

Twins
Denard Span, CF
Matt Tolbert, 2B
Joe Mauer, DH
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, LF
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brian Buscher, 3B
Mike Redmond, C
Nick Punto, SS
Pitching: Francisco Liriano, LHP

Twins shuffle rotation due to Perkins being ill

As I wrote in an earlier blog, the Twins have scratched Glen Perkins from tonight’s start against the Yankees because he’s ill and battling a fever. Anthony Swarzak will get the start for the Twins instead.

Perkins is not coming to the ballpark tonight, and right now it appears that Francisco Liriano will move up a day and start Thurs. vs. New York. Manager Ron Gardenhire said it’s “not totally locked in” so there is a chance it could change.

Depending on his health, Perkins could start Friday’s series opener vs. the White Sox or be slotted in any other day of the weekend when he’s feeling better.

Following Scott Baker’s short start last night, the Twins bullpen is a little thin. Gardenhire said there are four relievers available — Bobby Keppel, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan. Since both Brian Duensing and R.A. Dickey threw over 50 pitches, they are not considered available.

“We can stretch Keppel out if we have — hopefully we won’t have to,” Gardenhire said. “We’ll save the other guys for late stuff. It’s not a perfect scenario but not a lot we can do about it now.”

Even with Jason Kubel in the lineup, Michael Cuddyer is batting fifth behind Justin Morneau. Gardenhire said it was a result of Cuddyer swinging the bat well and also that righties are hitting better vs. Yankees starter A.J. Burnett (righties .273, lefties .207)

Here are your lineups.

Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS
Johnny Damon, LF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Brett Gardner, CF
Pitching: A.J. Burnett, RHP

Twins
Denard Span, LF
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jason Kubel, DH
Joe Crede, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Anthony Swarzak, RHP

A reminder that you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Perkins scratched from start

Twins starter Glen Perkins is running a fever so he’s been scratched from his start tonight against the Yankees. Right-hander Anthony Swarzak will start in Perkins’ place.

It’s unclear yet whether Perkins will be ready to start on Thursday, which was Swarzak’s scheduled start. I’ll have more on this later.

Reminder, you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

A little golf with your baseball?

When I arrived at the Metrodome this afternoon, golfer Rich Beem was in the batting cage with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire as his pitcher. Beem is in town this week to play a few practice rounds for next month’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine, the course where he won the 2002 PGA by beating Tiger Woods by a stroke.

Decked out in full uniform, Beem took some swings in the cage and then went to shag some fly balls with Gardenhire in left field. He’s also scheduled to throw out the first pitch before tonight’s Twins-Yankees series opener.

As a golf fan, seeing Beem at the ballpark couldn’t help but get me a little excited for next month’s tournament. I have yet to play at Hazeltine but count that as one on my list of “Courses I Want to Play.”

All right, back to baseball. The Yankees are in town and the Twins are looking for a little revenge after getting swept in four games at the new Yankee Stadium in May. C.C. Sabathia is on the mound for New York and it’s been a little over a year since the Twins have faced him — the last time coming when he was still with the Indians.

UPDATES: Gardenhire said that Mike Redmond is available to play tonight.

Justin Morneau has officially declined the invitation to take part in the HR Derby, but said that he’d be happy to cheer on Joe Mauer in the event. Read more about that in a story by my associate reporter, Tyler, on the site.

Kevin Slowey said that he had a cortisone shot in his right wrist during the offseason and it helped alleviate the problem. So he’s optimistic that this shot will help and he’ll be ready to come off the DL on July 19 when he’s eligible, although Slowey  said they’d know more in 4-5 days.

Also, the Yankees starter for Thursday will be right-hander Alfredo Aceves. He’s faced the Twins only twice in his career. Both were relief appearances, but he recoreded two wins in those appearances, throwing a total of two scoreless innings.

Here are the lineups:

Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS
Johnny Damon, LF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Brett Gardner, CF
Francisco Cervelli, C
Pitching: C.C. Sabathia, LHP

 Twins
Denard Span, LF
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Delmon Young, DH
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: Scott Baker, RHP