Sorry for my delay in posting extra notes everyone. There are some days down here at Spring Training that get a little hectic with stories and then the travel…especially when it’s close to an hour and a half drive each way like it was to Bradenton yesterday. I promise I’ll try to get better.
Anyway, here are some extra news nuggets from Wednesday that I didn’t get into the stories.
- Francisco Liriano looked much better in his second outing of the spring. After getting knocked around a little by the Yankees, Liriano pitched three scoreless innings against the Pirates and allowed just two hits with no walks and two strikeouts. It looked like Liriano was in much better command of the strike zone. His changeup continues to look better and better, and like everyone said it might just be his best pitch now.
- Matt Macri made his first start at third base and produced an impressive play in second inning. He made a diving lunge toward the shortstop hole to snag a ball and then got up on his feet and side-armed the ball to Brian Buscher at first base to get the out. But Macri then was charged with an error the very next inning when the first batter, Jack Wilson, hit a hard grounder to third. After fielding the ball, Macri’s throw sailed high to first base and allowed Wilson to reach base. Manager Ron Gardenhire talked to Macri about using his legs more on the second play, but he was still pretty impressed by the first snag Macri made…”That’s probably about as laid out as you are going to get on a ground ball,” Gardenhire said. “Then you get up and make a throw submarine and still get the guy. I don’t know how much better you can do. That’s one of the better ones I’ve seen this spring.”
- Memorable moment of the day: In the second inning, a white bird — likely a seagull– was seen sitting in the grass in right-center field. There was a debate in the press box as to whether the bird was dead or injured after Wilson Ramos hit a double close to the bird and it didn’t even move. Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth nearly stepped on the bird while trying to chase down the ball, but even then — nothing. So shortly after the next inning, a member of the grounds crew was sent to try and scoop up the bird with a shovel. But when he approached it with the shovel, the bird suddenly flew over the center field wall — miraculously fine.
All right, now that my trip back from Tampa is complete — and I got some dinner — here are some of the other newsworthy things that happened on Saturday.
- The Twins will use Monday’s off day as just that — an off day. Left-hander Francisco Liriano will come to the ballpark to throw a bullpen but otherwise there is no planned workout for the team. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Joe Mauer might come in and catch Liriano’s bullpen, now that he’s advanced to doing that. But the team might also give him a day of rest since he’s been working out every day. The decision on whether Mauer will be the one to catch Liriano will be made by the trainers, Gardenhire said. The off day is one of four that is scheduled for the Twins during this prolonged Spring Training.
- Any questions about whether the Twins might acquire reliever Juan Cruz were answered Saturday when he signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Royals. The contract includes a $4 million club option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout. Although many Twins fans were hopeful that the club would sign Cruz, the two sides just never seemed to find a fit and now the Twins will move forward with Jesse Crain, Luis Ayala, and Jose Mijares as their primary setup options.
- One of the hottest hitters for the Twins early in spring has been outfielder Delmon Young. After a 3-for-3 performance on Saturday, Young is now batting .857 (6-for-7) this spring. Although some of Young’s hits in previous games weren’t necessary bullets, he showed more power in his three hits agianst the Yankees. And Young isn’t the only one delivering hits. Brian Buscher is now 6-for-8 this spring with 4 RBIs, Jason Kubel is 2-for-4 with a home run and Carlos Gomez even delivered a home run to left field on Saturday… “The guys are swinging good,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the club’s 7-3 win over the Yankees. “Delmon is whacking the crap out of it; Kubel looks like he’s been hitting all winter long. There have been some really good at-bats and good swings. A lot of guys look like they’ve really got it going, and it’s early. Only six or eight more weeks of spring.” (The last part was Gardy joking…there are only five weeks left of spring –which is still plenty of time)
- Quote of Day: Gardenhire on Nick Punto playing for Team Italy “I think he grew up in Little Italy in California. That’s why I thought I had a shot to manage the Canadian team, because I live in Little Canada.”
(And for those of you who didn’t learn why Punto is playing for the Italian team — his grandparents are from Italy)