January 2011

Delaney claimed by Rays

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Rob Delaney, who was designated for assignment this week when the Twins picked up left-hander Dusty Hughes, has been claimed off waivers by the Rays.

Delaney made one appearance for Minnesota last season, giving up one run
on two hits in one inning. He was 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA in 61 appearances
with Triple-A Rochester in 2010.

Changes at Target Field

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The batter’s eye at Target Field will look slightly different when the Twins open up the 2011 season.

Twins president Dave St. Peter said Friday that the team plans to remove the black spruce trees that are currently behind the center field wall. Hitters, for both the Twins and visiting teams, have complained that the trees have been a distraction and make it difficult to see the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand.

The team also plans to install a new “almost honeycomb-like” material on
the backdrop that will help to reduce the glare for hitters, which was a
problem during late afternoon games.

“It’s more of a safety issue for players,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said. “That is one of those things that you really don’t know until you get into a park and start playing. The glare, you can project what the glare will be but you don’t know until you start playing. We certainly want to make it safe for the players.”

St. Peter said that the team is still working on determining what to do with the trees. He mentioned it’s possible that they could be relocated to a different parts of the state

Twins claim Hughes off waivers

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins have added another experienced arm to their bullpen competition this spring, claiming left-hander Dusty Hughes off waivers from the Royals on Wednesday.

Hughes, 28, was 1-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 24 walks and 34 strikeouts over 56 1/3 innings for the Royals in 2010. He pitched in 57 games last season, which gave him the second highest number of appearances among rookies in the American League. The left-hander, who was an 11th round pick by the Royals in 2003, was designated for assignment by Kansas City on Jan. 20.

To make room for Hughes on the 40-man roster, the Twins have designated right-handed pitcher Rob Delaney for assignment. Delaney made one appearance for the Twins last season, giving up a run on two hits in one inning. He was 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA in 61 appearances with Triple-A Rochester in 2010.

Nick Punto is a Cardinal

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Nick Punto’s days in a Minnesota Twins uniform have officially come to an end.

The versatile infielder has signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the contract is worth $700,000.

The Twins declined Punto’s $5 million option back in October, paying him a $500,000 buyout instead. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to bring back Punto, 33, to use in a utility role and to give the team protection in the middle infield in case of injuries, but the club appears to have reached its payroll limit after signing veteran starter Carl Pavano this week.

In seven seasons with the Twins, Punto batted .248 with a .323 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 89 stolen bases. But Punto’s value came primarily from his defense and Gardenhire often proclaimed that Punto was his best defensive infielder at whatever position he played — whether it was second base, shortstop or third base.

The Twins have other options for their utility infielder role, including Matt Tolbert who is a switch-hitter like Punto and can play the same three defensive spots. Tolbert is quick, although he doesn’t possess the same defensive prowess as Punto, who was considered to be one of the best defensive infielders in baseball.

Along with Tolbert, the Twins also have Trevor Plouffe as an option at shortstop should the team need a steady fill-in at that spot. Another potential option could be infielder Luke Hughes, who had a short stint with the team this past season.