March 2010

Twins at Rays 3/20

By: Kelly Thesier/

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The Twins and Rays are meeting up today for the first of two straight contests with each other this weekend.

J.J. Hardy said his irritated left quad is feeling much better. He is scheduled to play four innings and get at-bats in a Twins Minor League contest at the Lee County Sports Complex this afternoon.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters yesterday in Port St. Lucie that he doesn’t expect catcher Jose Morales to be ready for Opening Day, no real surprise considering that’s what Morales thought after having wrist surgery in late January. But now the focus will be on whether Wilson Ramos or Drew Butera gets the nod as the backup catcher to Joe Mauer when the club breaks camp.

Also, in Joe Nathan news it didn’t appear that the closer played catch this morning before the team bus left for Port Charlotte. That’s at least what us reporters gathered since we saw him hanging around the clubhouse and no real sign of activity. But we’ll find out later if that’s the case.

Twins (7-8)

Ben Revere, LF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Delmon Young, DH
Michael Cuddyer, CF
Jacque Jones, RF
Brendan Harris, 1B
Alexi Casilla, SS
Drew Butera, C
Nick Punto, 3B
Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano

Others scheduled to pitch: Brian Duensing, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama

Rays (12-4)
Sean Rodriguez, CF

Dioneer Navarro, C
Gabe Kapler, CF

Willy Aybar, 1B
Justin Ruggiano, RF

Ryan Shealy, DH
Elliot Johnson, 3B
J.J. Furmaniak, LF
Reid Brignac, 2B

Pitching: LHP David Price

Others scheduled to pitch: Grant Balfour, Lance Cormier, Randy Choate, Rafael Soriano

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Four more cuts at Twins camp

Following Friday’s game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, the Twins optioned four players to Triple-A Rochester: third baseman Danny Valencia, infielders Luke Hughes and Trevor Plouffe and right-hander Anthony Swarzak.

Those moves were in addition to two cuts made on Thursday. The Twins optioned right-handers Rob Delaney and Alex Burnett to Rochester.

The Twins now have a total of 42 players remaining in camp: 18 pitchers, six catchers, 10 infielders and eight outfielders.

Thursday’s tidbits

Here are a few things from manager Ron Gardenhire after Thursday’s 5-4 victory over the Pirates:

— Gardenhire said the team still isn’t sure when
Joe Nathan is going to play catch this weekend, although it likely won’t be in front of any media. In an attempt to give Nathan as much privacy as possible,
Gardenhire said the team is planning to stay mum about the time and location of Nathan’s game of catch. It’s all so that there isn’t a horde of television cameras and
national media there to watch the session.

“We’re going to put up screens and blocks and everything so
(the media) cannot be there,” Gardenhire said. “We just don’t want it
to be a big crazy thing here. Let the guy live in peace and see if he
can throw the ball. If he can’t, and he grimaces in pain and goes to
the ground, I don’t want you to see that. … And if he goes and hugs
and kisses (pitching coach Rick Anderson) because he feels great, we
don’t want you to see that, either.”
— Shortstop J.J. Hardy has not played since Saturday due to an irritated left quadriceps muscle. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Hardy was feeling better on Thursday and will likely return to game action on Saturday in a Minor League contest. Hardy has been able to do all of his infield drills, and on Thursday he ran the bases on one of the back fields without any problem.

— Nick Punto and Delmon Young got some at-bats in a Minor League contest across the complex this afternoon. It’s something that Gardenhire said will likely happen more frequently in the coming days now that Minor League games have officially begun. Gardenhire watched the two players hit in the contest and said Young got a couple of hits but was most excited about a walk he drew after falling behind in the count 0-2.

— Due to watching Punto and Young, Gardenhire said he missed the first couple innings of the contest against the Pirates. But he said he was able to know something good happened when the horns went off at Hammond Stadium — it was Jim Thome’s first homer as a Twin.

“I still haven’t seen Thome hit a homer,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve seen him hit them against us but never for the Twins.”

/* Font Definitions */
{font-family:"Cambria Math";
panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4;
mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;}
panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4;
mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;}
/* Style Definitions */
p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
@page Section1
{size:8.5in 11.0in;
margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in;
— “Slama Jama” : Gardy is known for his unique nicknames for players but a new favorite might be his moniker for pitcher Anthony Slama, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday. When talking about how Slama has pitched this spring, the manager referred to him as “Slama Jama.” Classic.

Twins vs. Pirates 3/18

By: Kelly Thesier/

The Twins made one cut this morning, optioning right-handed pitcher Rob Delaney to Triple-A Rochester.

Justin Morneau is back in the lineup as expected. Jim Thome also makes his return to Grapefruit League contests after going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in four plate appearances in a Minor League contest yesterday against Boston’s Class A Greenville affiliate.

Thome wasn’t the only one who played in that Minor League game as Jon Rauch also threw a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out three.

Pirates (4-9)
Ronny Cedeno, SS

Delwyn Young, 2B

Garrett Jones, RF
Jeff Clement, 1B

Lastings Milledge, LF
Brandon Moss, DH

Pedro Alvarez, 3B

John Raynor, CF
Jason Jaramillo, C

Pitching: RHP Ross Ohlendor

Others scheduled to pitch:Chris Jakubauskas, Javier Lopez, Jack Taschner, Brian Bass, Jean Machi

Twins (5-8)

Ben Revere, CF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jim Thome, DH

Michael Cuddyer, RF
Jacque Jones, LF
Brendan Harris, 3B
Matt Tolbert, SS
Pitching: RHP Carl Pavano

Others scheduled to pitch: Jose Mijares, Clay Condrey, Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Waldrop

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Another so-so outing for Perkins

Twins left-hander Glen Perkins got his first opportunity this spring to start a game on Wednesday but the results weren’t exactly what he had hoped.

“Frustrating is the way I’d put the outing in one word,” Perkins said afterward. “I felt good and didn’t get good results.”

Perkins was given the start on Wednesday against the Rays due to Nick Blackburn being skipped in the rotation with a sore right knee. He gave up two runs on five hits in 2 1/2 inning and said afterward that he felt he made some good pitches that ended up as good hits.

Still, it was a continuation of some spring struggles for Perkins, who has now allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 6 innings this spring. He’s currently competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing. But while his numbers aren’t great, Perkins has also not had the most consistent schedule this spring in terms of his workload.

Wednesday’s outing came just two days after Perkins threw 40 pitches in a relief appearance. He threw around 50 pitches in this start and he’ll likely have three days off before throwing in a game again on Sunday.Still, the quick turnaround is something that Perkins has actually viewed as a positive since his left shoulder — which bothered him all of last season — has been reacting well.

“I felt strong out there,” Perkins said. “I think that’s a good sign because when I was going through things, every fifth day was enough time to bounce back for me. To be able to bounce back in a couple days is a positive.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
deemed the outing “all
right” and said Perkins’ location isn’t there yet. But he also stressed that Perkins is healthy and that’s a big thing for everyone to see.

Perkins said as long as he continues to stay healthy, he feels like the results will eventually come and so he’s not focused on how his current stats might affect his position in the race for the final rotation spot.

“With the ups and downs I
had last year during the season I think I just want to stay healthy and to
continue to build arm strength first and foremost,” Perkins said. I think if I stay healthy
and continue to pitch, I’ll get better and the results will be there. I can’t
really control what happens other than I’ll just make my pitches. If they get
hits, hey get hits. I made better 
pitches today I thought than other games. Just gave up some good hits. I
think that’s the frustrating part. I got a couple of strikeouts which I hadn’t
been able to do. I made some good pitches when I had to. But as far as fighting
for a spot, I just want to stay healthy and pitch. At some point I hope the
rest  will take care of itself. I want to
stay on the field wherever it might be.”


Twins at Rays 3/17

By: Kelly Thesier/

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The Twins and Rays are set to meet today for the first time this spring, and it’s one of three games between the two clubs in five days.

I spoke with Justin Morneau this morning and the first baseman said he’s been dealing with what he called a “very minor tweak,” which has made him a little sore in the ribcage area. He said he hopes to play on Thursday when the Twins host the Pirates at Hammond Stadium. Morneau said it’s something he would normally play through but the club wanted him to rest and let it heal since it’s only Spring Training.

Also, an interesting note is that former Twin Johan Santana will face his old team when the club travels to Port St. Lucie to play the Mets on Friday. It will mark the first time that Santana has faced the Twins since he was traded in Feb. 2008.

Twins (5-7)

Denard Span, CF

Nick Punto, 3B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, RF

Delmon Young, LF
Wilson Ramos, C
Luke Hughes, 2B
Brock Peterson, 1B
Alexi Casilla, SS
Pitching: LHP Glen Perkins

Others scheduled to pitch: Jeff Manship, Jesse Crain, Anthony Swarzak, Kyle Waldrop, Alex Burnett, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney

Rays (10-3)
Sean Rodriguez, CF

Gabe Kapler, RF

Evan Longoria, 3B
Hank Blalock, DH

Kelly Shoppach, C
Justin Ruggiano, LF

Reid Brignac, 2B

Ryan Shealy, 1B
Elliot Johnson, SS

Pitching: RHP James Shields

Others scheduled to pitch: Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Lance Cormier, Joaquin Benoit

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Tuesday’s postgame tidbits

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave a few postgame updates after Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Orioles. Among them were updates on the health of Justin Morneau and J.J. Hardy

— Morneau did not play on Tuesday and Gardenhire said that he likely won’t play again until at least Thursday when the team is home. The first baseman has been dealing with some general soreness, including some in his ribcage and back, the skipper said. This is the time of year when Gardenhire said it’s not worth having Morneau play so they are having him take it easy, like they said they would do earlier this spring.

Minnesota Twins

“I told him, if there’s any issue, where you get
sore at all through your torso or legs — we’re just going to [pull
back],” Gardenhire said. “He’s always played through it, and we’re just going to back off
a few days here, and just take it easy. Do your light workouts and just
take it easy. He’s got plenty of time to get plenty of at-bats.”

Gardenhire said Morneau hasn’t hit in a couple days but they view that as a good thing since they wanted him to cut down on his number of swings this spring.

— Hardy was not in the lineup again as he’s still feeling something in his right quadriceps. Hardy left Saturday’s game in Clearwater with what the team called tightness in the quad.

“We’re not going to push that
issue,” Gardenhire said. “There’s just really no need. After that off day the 22nd, we’re
going to have a lot of games, plus those two at Target Field for guys
to get plenty of at-bats and get deep into the games.”

As for giving all the guys a few days off and some long bus trips off, Gardenhire joked that he expects all of them to be feeling better soon — as in feeling better after Friday’s three-plus hour bus ride to Port St. Lucie to play the Mets.

“Personally I think once we get past Port St. Lucie, guys are going to get well real quick,” Gardenhire said with a laugh. “Then they’ll probably come down with the flu bug about the time we go back to Jupiter. I’m just guessing. There is that cold season and it’s normally around Port St. Lucie and Jupiter [trips]. They are afraid that they might catch a cold over there and they don’t want to take a chance.”

Gardy: Nathan to test elbow Saturday, Sunday or Monday

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that closer Joe Nathan will test his right elbow soon, but it’s not necessarily going to happen on Saturday as the closer had thought.

Nathan had said Monday that he thought he’d give his elbow a vigorous test on Saturday. But Gardenhire said that’s not a guarantee, as it could happen on that day or on Sunday or Monday. He said they’ll let the doctors and training staff figure out what day it will be.

“He was going two weeks from when he hurt his arm. We’re looking from when the doctors saw him and said give him two weeks,” Gardenhire said. “We’re kind of in between there. We’ll find out sometime over the weekend, maybe Sunday or maybe Monday.

“Somewhere in the near future he’ll throw but it’s not a guaranteed schedule that he’ll throw on Saturday.”

Twins vs. Orioles 3/16

By: Kelly Thesier/

After a few days off, Joe Mauer returns to the Twins lineup today. Mauer had been battling a sore right shoulder after taking a foul tip off it in Thursday’s game against the Orioles. Mauer said that his shoulder was feeling better in recent days but the Twins didn’t want to push it and didn’t want him to make any extra long roadtrips like Monday’s trek across the state to Jupiter, Fla..

Justin Morneau is being given another day off as is Jim Thome. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday that both players were dealing with some “general soreness” after taking a long bus trip to Clearwater. Gardenhire really does seem intent on not pushing anything this spring and giving his players plenty of rest.

I spoke with Nick Blackburn this morning who gave me an update on his knee. He said it felt better while playing catch today and doesn’t expect it to be much of an issue. I’ll have an updated story on the site a little later.

Orioles (4-8)
Robert Andino, SS

Justin Turner, 2B

Nolan Reimold, DH
Luke Scott, LF

Lou Montanez, RF
Scott Moore, 1B

Josh Bell, 3B

Chad Moeller, C
Jeff Salazar, CF

Pitching: RHP David Hernandez

Others scheduled to pitch: Koji Uehara, Dennis Sarfate

Twins (5-6)

Ben Revere, CF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jason Kubel, DH

Brendan Harris, SS
Danny Valencia, 3B
Jacque Jones, LF
Juan Portes, RF
Pitching: RHP Scott Baker

Others scheduled to pitch: Mike Maroth, Clay Condrey, Jesse Crain, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Twins vs. Red Sox 3/14

By: Kelly Thesier/

The Twins made their first cuts of spring this morning and a total of eight players were sent across the complex to the Minor League side. There were no surprises.

Three players were optioned to Double-A New Britain: right-handers Deolis Guerra and Loek Van Mil and infielder Estarlin De Los Santos.

Five others were reassinged to Minor League camp: left-hander Jose Lugo, catchers Jair Fernandez and Danny Rams, infielder Steve Singleton, and outfielder Rene Tosoni.

So a total of 48 players remain in camp.

Joe Mauer was not in the lineup again today. He said that his sore right shoulder (foul tip) is feeling better but since it’s Spring Training, they just want him to take it easy. He’s not expected to make the long bus trip across the state to Jupiter tomorrow either so he might be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Justin Morneau was scratched from an early lineup due to some soreness. I haven’t gotten an exact word on where the soreness might be, so I’ll update it later on.

Also, Josh Beckett was scratched due to an illness. Ryne Miller got the start in his place.

Red Sox (7-3)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH

Jeremy Hermida, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS

Jason Varitek, C

Bill Hall, 3B
Josh Reddick, LF

Pitching: RHP Ryne Miller

Others scheduled to pitch: Scott Atchison

Twins (5-4)

Alexi Casilla, SS

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Michael Cuddyer, CF
Jason Kubel, DH

Brendan Harris, 3B
Brock Peterson, 1B
Jacque Jones, RF
Juan Portes, LF
Drew Butera, C
Pitching: RHP Kevin Slowey

Others scheduled to pitch: Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Glen Perkins, Kyle Waldrop, Rob Delaney

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier