Results tagged ‘ Justin Morneau ’

Friday night vs. the Reds — Under the Lights edition

The Twins are getting ready for their second night game of the spring. And while the regular season is full of games at night, it’s always a bit of an adjustment during the spring when you are accustomed to getting up early and getting the day going at that time.

As for things going on today, the swelling in Nick Punto’s right elbow has decreased and he should be back in the lineup in a couple days as expected.

Justin Morneau is back in the lineup for the first time since leaving for the World Baseball Classic and Jesse Crain, who also played for Team Canada, will also pitch in the contest.

Here are the lineups:

Twins:
Denard Span, CF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Jason Kubel, DH
Justin Morneau, 1B
Joe Crede, 3B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Delmon Young, LF
Mike Redmond, C
Matt Tolbert, SS
Pitching: Francisco Liriano, LHP

Reds:
Chris Dickerson, CF
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Joey Votto, 1B
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jay Bruce, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Jacque Jones, LF
Jonny Gomes, DH
Ryan Hanigan, C
Pitching: Micah Owings, RHP

A debut and another small step

Friday’s game against the Yankees marked Joe Crede’s debut in a Twins uniform. But while many fans were focused on Crede’s big step, there was another player making strides in his attempt to return to the field — catcher Joe Mauer.

Mauer’s latest acheivement came on Friday when he caught one of Glen Perkins’ bullpen sessions. The catcher then took swings off a tee inside the batting cage. Around 40 people watched Mauer’s session in which he also took soft flips from bullpen catcher Nate Dammann.

There still is no expected timeline for when Mauer will rejoin his teammates on the field, but he’s making progress and that’s definitely positive news for the Twins.

Here are some other news and notes from Friday:

  • Scott Baker’s outing wasn’t pretty in the box score (3 earned runs on six hits over two innings, including a solo home run), but at this point in the spring it wasn’t anything that worried the coaching staff. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said Thursday that he’s asking his pitchers to work on one or two pitches in their early outings. Baker said he threw mostly fastballs, but that his troubles were a result of being a little amped up for his first start. Although he said he still doesn’t like “to get hit around,” Baker said he’s trying to focus on his pitches so that he’ll be ready for his Opening Day start.

  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hasn’t given much indication as to what his lineup will look like in 2009, but on Friday he indicated that Justin Morneau will likely be back in the cleanup spot. When asked if he might separate Mauer and Morneau in the order, Gardenhire said, “I have no problem with it but you don’t have to do it because they hit both lefties and righties.”

  • Catching prospect Wilson Ramos, who was ranked the Twins No. 3 prospect by Baseball America, impressed the fans during Friday’s contest with his arm. He threw out two would-be basestealers after taking over for Mike Redmond behind the plate. But Ramos is known more for his offense than his defense. “He’s a pretty good player,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to be a good one, we think. He’s got things to learn defensively, believe me.”

Hundred Dollar Bill

When manager Ron Gardenhire walked into his office after Wednesday night’s Spring Training opener against the Red Sox, he found a $100 bill sitting on top of his laptop.

Next to the bill was a note from first baseman Justin Morneau that read “Gardy, Forgot to run. I fined myself.”

Turns out that after Morneau had gone to the batting cages to get some extra swings after exiting the game with a strikeout in the fifth inning. But afterward, he forgot to go back out to the outfield and run.

The Twins have been talking all spring about Morneau’s increased leadership on the team. Perhaps no better sign of that is when the runner-up for last year’s AL MVP is fining himself in the first game of Spring Training.

Welcome to Minnesota, Joe Crede

It sure didn’t take long for the Twins new third baseman to get a little taste of Minnesota nice.

While Crede was standing alongside the batting cage on one of the fields at the Lee County Sports Complex on Sunday morning and waiting to take his first round of batting practice as a Twin, a fan sitting in the stands yelled out, “Welcome to Minnesota, Joe Crede.” And Crede responded with a wave of his bat and a head nod in the man’s direction.

Crede looked good during his first workout with the club. Many people commented on what a “big” guy Crede is, a statement based upon the third baseman’s athletic-build stature. He certainly looks like a ballplayer and if you didn’t know that he’d had back issues, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by Sunday’s workout.

I spent quite a bit of time around Crede while I was an MLB.com intern in Chicago during the ’05 season (yes, Twins fans, I spent a year writing about the White Sox — although I did spend time reporting on the Cubs and Brewers that season too). He’s a quiet and humble guy from Missouri who possesses a very strong work ethic. If there was a player who fits perfectly into the Twins clubhouse, it’s Crede. By watching Crede joke around with Justin Morneau during their BP
session and fist pumping with pitcher Joe Nathan, it’s easy to see that
he’ll mix right in with the group.

As for my initial thoughts on the move, it appears to be a great nab for the Twins. Considering that the Twins paid $6.6 million to Mike Lamb for 81 games last season, the $2.5 million guaranteed to Crede seems like a very low risk. Crede has shown to make some spectacular plays at third. And if he can stay healthy and produce a similar season to the one he had in 2006 when he recorded 30 homers and 94 RBIs, Crede would be well worth the $7 million he could earn.

Other news from the day:

  • I watched Corey Koskie take batting practice on one of the back fields of the Twins’ complex on Sunday. Koskie certainly has come a long way in his recovery and it appears he’s reached another big step — making Team Canada for this year’s World Baseball Classic. Although he wasn’t on Canada’s provisional roster, Koskie will join the team when camp opens on March 2 at the Blue Jays facility in Dunedin, Fla.

  • Gardenhire said he hasn’t yet considered how he might structure the lineup now with the addition of Crede. There seems to be a number of ways he could slot Crede into that group — and it would be interesting to hear all of your thoughts on what the Twins batting order might look like for Opening Day.

Restaurant of the Day: Patinella’s Chicken Grill.   Okay so this isn’t your typical sitdown restaurant (more like healthy fast food) but it’s one of the favorites of the Twins beat writers and also the team’s players and coaches. Located in the Plantation Shoppes, just down the street from the ballpark, it features a number of chicken and rice and gyro dishes. The #3 with yellow rice is one of my favorites. I would label this a must-visit place for anyone visiting Fort Myers.

Crede update plus Friday round-up

Just when it seemed like the Twins might be easing on their pursuit of Joe Crede, talks between the two sides are heating up once again.

As Jon Heyman of SI.com first reported, the Twins appear to be closing in on a deal with Crede. It was indicated to me that the two sides could be nearing a deal but I haven’t been able to get much info on what the possible deal might entail. It’s clear that Crede’s agent, Scott Boras, and Twins GM Bill Smith remain in discussions, although, I’m making sure to point out that I’ve heard nothing is finalized yet.

While Crede became the news on Friday night, there were a few interesting tidbits to pass along from the day.

  • Manager Ron Gardenhire said that one area he’d like to address this spring is his backup first baseman. Justin Morneau played all 163 games last season (155 at first base). And while Morneau was able to handle that workload, Gardenhire would like the option this season of giving him more rest from playing the field. Michael Cuddyer has held the backup duties at the spot in previous seasons, but Gardenhire would like to keep him in the outfield. So the likely candidates to see playing time at first will be Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris, who would make up the platoon at third base if the Twins don’t sign Crede.

  • Gardenhire also mentioned that it’s not necessarily a given that the team will go with 12 pitchers out of spring. It still seems the most likely scenario but Gardenhire won’t rule out the possibility of keeping an extra position player — “I’d like to go with 14 [position players]. But I have to talk to my pitching coach on that one. It’s going to be tough.”

  • In addition to the five Spring Training games already being televised, the Twins announced Friday that the MLB Network will be carrying four additional contests that were not previously scheduled to air on Fox Sports North or WFTC. They include the following games: Feb. 25 — Red Sox @ Twins – NESN, Feb. 28 — Twins @ NY Yankees – YES, March 1 — Red Sox @ Twins — NESN, March 17 – Twins @ Red Sox — NESN

  • Also of note, hitting coach Joe Vavra said that he’s been pleased with some of the early adjustments that he’s seen in Delmon Young’s swing. Vavra said that his stance is a little wider and that Young looks to be using his legs more. The hope is that these changes will allow Young to turn on the ball more and to use the natural power he generates with his quick hands.

I figured as something fun, I might recommend some good places to eat/see while visiting Fort Myers during Spring Training as a daily (or weekly) thing. A little warning — I don’t get out much other than to eat while I’m here so it will most likely be food related. However, I have played some nice golf courses during the few off days I have here so I’ll try to include those too. So here goes the first  recommendation.

Restaurant of the day: Cantino Laredo — a good Mexican restaurant that is located near the Bell Tower Shops at the corner of Daniels Parkway and U.S. 41. It’s first on my list because I’ve already eaten there a couple of times this trip. If you like guacamole, be sure to get it as they make it fresh at the table.

Pitchers and Catchers Day 2 — Tale of Inspiration

Spring Training is a time for new beginnings and one of the most inspiring stories of this spring is taking place on the back fields of the Lee County Sports Complex.

Former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie is working out there, with the Twins permission, as he tries to make Team Canada for next month’s World Baseball Classic.

Koskie, 35, hasn’t played in a Major League game since July 5, 2006 when, as the Brewers third baseman, he suffered a concussion that left him with dizziness and headaches that would not go away. After two-plus seasons out of baseball, Koskie hopes that the Classic could be a showcase for him and might lead to him getting another shot in the big leagues.

The fact that Koskie is even back on a baseball field is inspiring to anyone that watched him go through his rough ordeal — when he couldn’t drive at times or even play with his kids. One person that is particularly encouraged by Koskie’s latest step is Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

“He’s one of the all-time favorites,” Gardenhire said. “It’s nice to see him back on the field. He’s been going through a lot. That’s the big thing with Koskie. It’s actually good to see him not bouncing off the walls when he’s walking down the hallway because he’s dizzy.”

It was a little bit of a busy day so I didn’t get to watch much of the pitchers fielding work today. Most of the position players have already arrived (some new faces on Tuesday were Matt Tolbert, Trevor Plouffe and Deibinson Romero). While the pitchers worked out, the position guys spent the morning doing some work on the back fields of the complex. I think I’ve counted seven players who I haven’t seen in the clubhouse yet: Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, Dustin Martin, Danny Valencia, David Winfree and Alejandro Machado. Position players must report by Friday so it’s likely we’ll see more of these players starting to arrive in the next few days.

Here are a few other things that were noteworthy on Day 2 of camp:

  • Twins general manager Bill Smith said that the club expects to finalize Luis Ayala’s contract soon, possibly as early as Wednesday. The final medical report on Ayala is expected at that time. When the signing is completed, the Twins will have to create a spot on the 40-man roster for him. It’s still unclear which player might be outrighted or released to make room for the pitcher.

  • When answering the questions about players taking part in the World Baseball Classic, Gardenhire joked that he’s most concerned about his players facing each other in the event. Closer Joe Nathan could pitch to first baseman Justin Morneau when Team USA plays Team Canada in the opening round in Toronto. And they’ve already kidded about what might happen at that point. “My guys are talking about buzzing each other now,” Gardenhire said while shaking his head.