Greetings from Ed Smith Stadium where the Reds are hosting their final Spring Training opener in this ballpark. Cincinnati is moving its Spring Training to Goodyear, Ariz. next year and one sign of their impending departure was the “less than full” crowd on hand for Thursday’s opener.
Here are the lineups for today’s contest
Denard Span, LF
Carlos Gomez, CF
Brendan Harris, 3B
Brian Buscher, 1B
Luis Matos, RF
Dustin Martin, DH
Matt Tolbert, 2B
Jose Morales, C
Trevor Plouffe, SS
Pitching: Nick Blackburn
Willy Taveras, CF
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS
Joey Votto, 1B
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jay Bruce, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Laynce Nix, LF
Ramon Hernandez, C
Jeff Keppinger, DH
Pitching: Micah Owings
Here is some other news and nuggets:
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Thursday that the club will continue to take it slow with infielder Steve Tolleson (strained oblique). Although Tolleson has reported that the muscle is feeling better, the skipper doesn’t want to take any chances. “We are trying to tell him to calm down,” Gardenhire said. “They said three days and go from there. But I think we all know with the oblique, it’s like a 10-day or two-week thing if you’re lucky. It can go further if you bother it again. So I don’t want him to do too much right now.”
- Gardenhire also said that he’ll use the upcoming games to make sure all of his World Baseball Classic participants get in their work. Justin Morneau and Nick Punto each started on Wednesday night while Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain and Luis Ayala all threw out of the ‘pen. Infielder Luke Hughes, who will play for Australia in the event, was expected to see time at third base in Thursday’s game against the Reds.
- Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway celebrated his 69th birthday on Tuesday. Hattaway, a longtime clubhouse attendant in the organization, is considered now to be the Twins’ director of team morale and he’s beloved by all of the players. That’s why it was no surprise that Hattaway got a few special visitors to the clubhouse on Tuesday to give him birthday wishes in person — former Twins pitchers Brad Radke and Johan Santana.
- The MLB Network has announced that it will air a 96-minute documentary called “We Are Young: A Baseball Family” on Monday night at 8 p.m. CT. It focuses on Twins outfielder Delmon Young and his older borther, Dmitri, over a seven-year period. The documentary covers everything from the influence of their father, Larry, on their careers to Dmitri Young’s battle with diabetes and Delmon’s suspension for flipping a bat at an umpire.
- The Twins Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, announced that the club will be filmed as part of a 13-episode reality show for PBS. The show will be filmed during the 2009 season but won’t be broadcast until 2010. Cameras will be allowed access to most areas of the Minor Leaguers life. The one exception is that cameras will not be allowed on long bus ride. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle had a nice article on the show.
It’s now less than 24 hours before the Twins first game of the spring and like the players, I’m ready to see some real action on the field. While it’s always exciting to get down to Florida and to see the players report, the games are always what bring about the most intrigue in spring.
Manager Ron Gardenhire likely put it best during some of his post-workout comments on Tuesday.
“I think the guys are ready too,” Gardenhire said of the games starting. “They’re excited. They’re tired of facing each other. That gets old. Hitters facing the pitchers, that’s not a lot of fun. It’s a little more fun when you face the other guys.”
Glen Perkins will get the start in the Twins Graperfruit League opener against the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium. Among the pitchers also expected to throw in the contest are Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain, Luis Ayala, and Bobby Keppel. Mike Redmond will catch the first game and the infield will be Justin Morneau at first, Alexi Casilla at second, Nick Punto at shortstop and Brian Buscher at third. I haven’t yet heard who will be starting in the outfield.
Here are a few nuggets that came out of camp on Tuesday:
- Other than Boof Bonser’s shoulder problems, the only other injury so far in camp belongs to infielder Steve Tolleson who has a strained oblique. Gardenhire said that Tolleson is expected to miss some time on the field but that he’ll be re-evaluated in 3-4 days.
- Joe Mauer certainly seems excited by the progress he’s made over the last week. Along with playing catch and working on some light agility drills, Mauer is now beginning to take swings in the cage as well. It’s still unclear what Mauer’s timetable is for rejoining the team out on the field but for now, it’s just nice to see him encouraged by the steps he’s taken since Spring Training began.
- Former Twins pitcher Brad Radke stopped by the team’s clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon. Radke, who resides in Largo, Fla. which is near Clearwater, was greeted with a hug and handshake from many of the veteran Twins players who were clearly excited to see him. There were also quite a few congratulations offered to Radke in regards to his selection to the Twins Hall of Fame. The normally modest pitcher seemed a little sheepish about the honor, but he said that he’s looking forward to being in Minnesota for the induction ceremony this summer.
Restaurant of the Day: The Mucky Duck
Every Spring Training all of the Twins beat writers take a trip to Captiva Island to visit this restaurant for dinner. The goal is always to make it out there in time to see the sun set from the beach on which the restaurant sits. It’s hard to beat that view and the food is pretty good as well. Just know it’s a little bit of a drive to get out to the restaurant — particularly when there is vacation traffic out on both Sanibel Island and Captiva — but if you get the chance, it’s really worth the time.