Monday camp tidbits: Injury updates, tall pitchers and Team USA
By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com
Day 1 of Twins camp is in the books and it was the most beautiful day weather-wise since I arrived in Fort Myers, Fla. a little over a week ago. The sun was shining and temperatures were in the mid-70s for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. Now that actual workouts are underway, it’s a good time to empty the notebook with some interesting tidbits and stories.
— The only injury concern currently in camp is pitcher Loek Van Mil, who is battling some soreness in his right shoulder. Van Mil is going to be limited to long toss for the next couple days so he won’t be throwing in the bullpen during that time.
— Catcher Jose Morales sat in the dugout bench on Field 5 and watched as pitchers and catchers stretched before the start of Monday’s workout. Morales’ right arm is still in a cast following surgery at the end of last month to stabilize a tendon in his wrist. Morales said that the cast is scheduled to come off in a week. The switch-hitter said he should be able to start swinging from the right side in about two weeks and the left side in about four.
— Infielder Nick Punto has not yet reported to camp, as position players don’t officially have to be here until Friday, but Twins general manager Bill Smith said that the team plans to take it easy with him early in camp. Punto underwent a cleanup surgery on his right wrist at the end of last month and had been expected to be ready to go on the first day of full squad workouts. But Smith said there is no rush for Punto to be 100 percent.
“He’s such a high energy player. We’re just going to try to slow him down,” Smith said. “We’ll make sure we take out time. Opening Day is a long ways away.”
— When talking about Van Mil’s sore shoulder, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked what it’s like to have so many tall pitchers in camp this spring. Van Mil is 7-foot-1 and reliever Jon Rauch is 6-foot-11. The two pitchers weren’t in the same throwing group but everyone laughed at how Van Mil made one member of his group — Joe Nathan, who is 6-foot-4 — look short.
“I’m already prepping them on, if I come up to the mound they have to back off the mound so I can look at them eye to eye,” Gardenhire said with a laugh. “Too many guys I’m going to have to look up to on this staff.”
— There was one additional position player who reported to camp on Monday — outfielder Delmon Young. While Gardenhire was meeting with the media, Young stuck his head in the manager’s office to say hello. Young, who has dropped at least 30 pounds from last season, surprised his skipper by his new svelte look and it led to a humorous exchange.
“What happened brother? You go to a shrink machine?” Gardenhire joked with Young.
“[Carl] Pavano is on our staff,” Young said. “I need to catch the fly balls on the warning track.”
— Young wasn’t the only player that Gardenhire enjoyed teasing on Monday. Even though first baseman Justin Morneau has yet to report to camp, he wasn’t exempt from getting a few jabs from the manager.
Gardenhire said he was texting Morneau during the USA-Canada Olympic hockey game on Sunday night. The U.S. pulled off the upset, defeating Canada 5-3 and Gardenhire couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to get on British Columbia-native Morneau, who shares his Canadian pride with everyone.
“He’s catching a lot of heat,” Gardenhire said.
Morneau’s wife, Krista, is from Minnesota and the first baseman told Gardenhire that this was one of the times it was hard to be married to an American. But there will likely be some more ribbing awaiting Morneau when he arrives at camp, as many of his teammates were ready to continue the trash-talking about Team USA’s win. Morneau is rumored to be arriving to camp tomorrow so it’s possible that he could arrive to a little red, white and blue tribute in his locker.