Tagged: Ron Gardenhire

Bring on the Hitters

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

Today marked the final day that only the Twins pitchers and catchers worked out. On Saturday the club will hold its first full squad workout and that means the annual team meeting will take place. It’s the time when manager Ron Gardenhire gives his speech to the team for the 2010 season.

Gardy was asked on Friday if the message was going to be pretty simple considering that expectations are high for his club in 2010.

“It’s the same every year. Our goal is to be consistent and try to win our division,” Gardenhire said. “If everything works out OK we should do just fine. Talking about it doesn’t get it done. It’s all about the work on the field and the games. Sure we have high expectations. Absolutely. I think I do and I think everybody should. We like our baseball team. We will see how it goes.

“The meeting tomorrow is about getting the work done. We have never rested on our laurels. We have never said that we are OK. We will continue to work our tails off and try to outwork everybody else.”

— As I wrote in a story for the website, Justin Morneau arrived to camp today. Surprisingly, though, there were no USA decorations in his locker when he showed up. I thought there would be since so many of his teammates seemed ready to trash talk about Team USA beating Canada in Olympic hockey last Sunday. The only gesture was that Brendan Harris put on a USA hockey hat and teased Morneau at his locker with it for a few minutes early in the morning.

So why no decorations?

“I think there probably was,” Morneau said. “Then they saw that Russia game and took them down.”

— The only position player who had not been spotted in the clubhouse by Friday afternoon was shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos. In addition to Morneau, outfielder Juan Portes also reported to camp on Friday.

— One sign that was spotted in a locker by day’s end was this “1st place Long and Mean: 55” by Joe Mauer’s stall. It was to celebrate that the catcher’s group won the charity golf tournament by shooting a 55 on the Long and Mean course at Fiddlesticks on Thursday afternoon. Mauer couldn’t resist putting it up.

“This is the first time I’ve won the thing,” Mauer said with a smile.

More tomorrow when pitchers start throwing live batting practice. It’s always a day of entertainment as the pitchers have a clear advantage over hitters early in camp.

Follow me on Twitter @kellythesier

Monday camp tidbits: Injury updates, tall pitchers and Team USA

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

Day 1 of Twins camp is in the books and it was the most beautiful day weather-wise since I arrived in Fort Myers, Fla. a little over a week ago. The sun was shining and temperatures were in the mid-70s for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. Now that actual workouts are underway, it’s a good time to empty the notebook with some interesting tidbits and stories.

— The only injury concern currently in camp is pitcher Loek Van Mil, who is battling some soreness in his right shoulder. Van Mil is going to be limited to long toss for the next couple days so he won’t be throwing in the bullpen during that time.

— Catcher Jose Morales sat in the dugout bench on Field 5 and watched as pitchers and catchers stretched before the start of Monday’s workout. Morales’ right arm is still in a cast following surgery at the end of last month to stabilize a tendon in his wrist. Morales said that the cast is scheduled to come off in a week. The switch-hitter said he should be able to start swinging from the right side in about two weeks and the left side in about four.

— Infielder Nick Punto has not yet reported to camp, as position players don’t officially have to be here until Friday, but Twins general manager Bill Smith said that the team plans to take it easy with him early in camp. Punto underwent a cleanup surgery on his right wrist at the end of last month and had been expected to be ready to go on the first day of full squad workouts.  But Smith said there is no rush for Punto to be 100 percent.

“He’s such a high energy player. We’re just going to try to slow him down,” Smith said. “We’ll make sure we take out time. Opening Day is a long ways away.”

— When talking about Van Mil’s sore shoulder, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked what it’s like to have so many tall pitchers in camp this spring. Van Mil is 7-foot-1 and reliever Jon Rauch is 6-foot-11. The two pitchers weren’t in the same throwing group but everyone laughed at how Van Mil made one member of his group — Joe Nathan, who is 6-foot-4 — look short.

“I’m already prepping them on, if I come up to the mound they have to back off the mound so I can look at them eye to eye,” Gardenhire said with a laugh. “Too many guys I’m going to have to look up to on this staff.”

— There was one additional position player who reported to camp on Monday — outfielder Delmon Young. While Gardenhire was meeting with the media, Young stuck his head in the manager’s office to say hello. Young, who has dropped at least 30 pounds from last season, surprised his skipper by his new svelte look and it led to a humorous exchange.

“What happened brother? You go to a shrink machine?” Gardenhire joked with Young.

“[Carl] Pavano is on our staff,” Young said. “I need to catch the fly balls on the warning track.”

— Young wasn’t the only player that Gardenhire enjoyed teasing on Monday. Even though first baseman Justin Morneau has yet to report to camp, he wasn’t exempt from getting a few jabs from the manager.

Gardenhire said he was texting Morneau during the USA-Canada Olympic hockey game on Sunday night. The U.S. pulled off the upset, defeating Canada 5-3 and Gardenhire couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to get on British Columbia-native Morneau, who shares his Canadian pride with everyone.

“He’s catching a lot of heat,” Gardenhire said.

Morneau’s wife, Krista, is from Minnesota and the first baseman told Gardenhire that this was one of the times it was hard to be married to an American. But there will likely be some more ribbing awaiting Morneau when he arrives at camp, as many of his teammates were ready to continue the trash-talking about Team USA’s win. Morneau is rumored to be arriving to camp tomorrow so it’s possible that he could arrive to a little red, white and blue tribute in his locker. 

Welcome to the Fort

Greetings everyone from sunny Fort Myers, Fla. (I can’t say warm because it hasn’t exactly been that way over the past week. I know, I know, no complaining to those who are still in Minnesota).

I was on vacation for the last seven days, although I spent that time down here in Florida –working on my golf game. (It’s training time for everyone, right?) Today was my first day back at the ballpark and so I thought I’d share a few of the sights and sounds at the Lee County Sports Complex two days before the club’s official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.

While I’d heard that players had been slowly trickling in all week, there was quite a bit of activity there today. Among the notable names who were working out at the ballpark today were Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Michael Cuddyer, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Pat Neshek. A few of them, including Nathan and Guerrier threw bullpen sessions while Neshek threw some live batting practice. In addition to the numerous players on the fields, there were plenty of fans wandering about. I got a chance to catch up with a few of them and always enjoy hearing about their enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

After hanging around the fields, I headed over to the main clubhouse to see who might be dropping off stuff at their lockers. Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy were there, having just returned from a week up in Minnesota. As I tweeted earlier, Mauer was sporting a new beard that he grew while spending time up at his cabin. Mauer took Hardy to the cabin where they worked out and even did some ice fishing there. Hardy said he can’t believe how famous Mauer’s cabin has become, but did add that it was a pretty impressive place to visit.

Golf was a common topic of conversation in the clubhouse, and not just from me talking about how my swing was feeling this week. Nathan and Carl Pavano were headed out to play 18 holes — one of many rounds of golf that they’ll likely play this spring. While my golf game goes on hiatus pretty much over the course of Spring Training, the players get to enjoy their time on the links (especially during the short workout days early in camp). So I’m sure I’ll get to hear quite a bit about how their golf games are progressing.

One person who was only too happy to share his golf story was manager Ron Gardenhire, who got the opportunity to play Augusta National on Friday. The timing was not ideal as the South was hit by a massive snowstorm on Friday afternoon, and Gardy’s playing group had to golf in the snow for the final three holes. He said he got some pictures of the group on hole No. 18 with the snow falling. Augusta got a total of four inches — something that hadn’t happened in 37 years — so Gardy was proud to at least have pictures of the event. He didn’t shoot too shabby either, telling me he was only one over after the front nine

Tomorrow will be the final day for players to work out before the official reporting day. It’s often a little quieter around the ballpark as guys enjoy their final day off before things really get underway. I’ll be back out at the complex tomorrow to start working on a few stories so I’ll share more at that time.

Span out of lineup, Gomez leading off

Denard Span is not in the lineup after getting hit in the head by a pitch in the sixth inning of last night’s contest. Carlos Gomez gets the start in center field and will lead off. I’ll have more on Span once we go into the clubhouse.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is going for career win No. 700 tonight against the White Sox.

There is certainly going to be plenty of scoreboard watching going on tonight. The Tigers open up a three-game series in Cleveland and with the Twins only 2 1/2 games back, they will be interested to see how those contests go.

Here are today’s lineups:

Twins (77-73)
2nd place in AL Central, 2 1/2 games back

Carlos Gomez, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Brendan Harris, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: RHP Jeff Manship (0-1, 5.31)

White Sox (73-78)
3rd place in AL Central, 7 games back
Scott Podsednik, CF
Gordon Beckham, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Paul Konerko, 1B
Mark Kotsay, DH
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Carlos Quentin, LF
Chris Getz, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Pitching: LHP John Danks (12-9, 3.59)

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Gardy likes the look of the bullpen

Just a few weeks ago, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stressed how important it was for his club to address its bullpen situation this offseason.

But after the bullpen had been an area of concern for much of the past two seasons, lately it’s been going through a resurgence. That’s in part due to general manager Bill Smith adding some extra pieces to the mix last month.

The acquisitions of Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, have added some veteran presence to Minnesota’s relief corps. Combine that with Matt Guerrier’s emergence as a solid eighth inning option, Jesse Crain’s rebound since returning from the Minor Leagues and Jose Mijares now figuring out how to get right-handed hitters out, and Gardenhire has been pleased recently be what he’s seen from the group.

“We struggled early out of the bullpen,” Gardenhire said, “but I think good things have happened.”

With Rauch signed through 2010, Pat Neshek and Boof Bonser as options to challenge for spots as they are set to return in Spring Training following surgeries and some young starters like Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing in the mix if they don’t make the starting rotation, the club’s bullpen is already looking to have plenty of options for next season.

“I think we’re going to have lots of good
competition,” said Gardenhire. “It should be fun.”

That’s not to say Gardenhire doesn’t want other options. The Twins still could be looking for one more left-handed reliever for 2010, which could be Mahay as Gardenhire said he’d like to have the lefty back, and perhaps another arm in long relief.

“I like the arms [we have].” Gardenhire said. “Can you use more? Always.”

Bring on the list

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen might compete against each other on the baseball field. But when it comes to the list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during a random test in 2003, the two managers hold the same belief — release the list already.

“Just like everybody said, it’s getting old,” Gardenhire said on Friday afternoon. “It’s sad. It just keeps chewing at you. Every time you turn on the TV another name gets leaked off this list. So just put the list out there. If they are going to keep leaking the stinkin’ thing, put the whole list out there and let’s get it out of the way.”

Gardenhire’s comments came one day after a New York Times report revealed David Ortiz and Manny
Ramirez as the latest players to be included on the 2003 list. Guillen’s sentiments were played all over the national news Thursday as he begged for someone in baseball to get the list out, calling it “embarrassing” and “a joke.”

It’s a feeling that Gardenhire seems to share.

“They keep saying it’s not legal for them to get this list but somebody is getting it and somebody is doing it,” the Twins manager said. “Either find the mole or put the list out there.”

The latest report hit a little closer to home for Gardenhire since it involved Ortiz, a former Twin. Gardenhire was a coach with the Twins for most of Ortiz’s tenure with the club before becoming manager in 2002 — the final year that Ortiz spent in Minnesota.

“Papi is a great guy,” Gardenhire said. “He’s one of the funniest guys in baseball. Always a big smile. It’s hard hearing something like that about him. My heart goes out to him.”

Gardenhire knows this is a tough time for Ortiz having his name revealed on the list. But the skipper feels it would be best for baseball as a whole to just get all the names out in the open rather than to continue to have these reports leaked out from time to time.

“I don’t wish it on anybody but the list is what it is,” Gardenhire said. “Lots of guys have been involved in it. Get it all out and let’s get it over with”.

Going for a sweep…Sunday Lineups: Twins at Rangers

The Twins are closing out their series against the Rangers in Texas tonight and will be going for the series sweep. The last time that Minnesota swept a three-game series in Texas was Sept. 7-9, 1976.

Third baseman Joe Crede (mild strain of the AC joint in his right shoulder) is not in the lineup for the finale with Texas and is still listed as day-to-day. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Crede believes that the medication given to him by the doctors will help clear up the problem. But it’s still not known just when Crede might be back.

Kevin Slowey is still on schedule to throw a bullpen session tomorrow in Oakland. It’s the first of two bullpens he’ll likely throw before heading out on a Minor League rehab stint.

Jason Kubel’s brother-in-law, right-handed pitcher Michael Tonkin, was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week ending on July 18. Tonkin, who is currently pitching for the Twins Gulf Coast League squad, made one start during the week and pitched seven scoreless innings. He recorded 15 strikeouts in the start and scattered just two hits with no walks. He is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in four apperances (three starts) this season

As for the golf fans out there, I talked with some of the guys in the clubhouse today about Tom Watson’s heart-breaking finish at the British Open. I was one of those people openly rooting for the 59-year-old to defeat the odds and win yet another Major title. It seems I wasn’t the only one who was sad at the finish — despite the fact that Stewart Cink is also a tremendous player and one who deserves a Major on his resume.

Gardenhire said he watched the finish of the tournament in his hotel room and that Watson’s 18th hole in regulation, when he missed a par putt that would have given him the championship, felt just like the ninth inning of a ballgame.

“I was so nervous and then he missed the putt and I was like…(starts to pace around the room to mimic his reaction),” Gardenhire said. “That’s what it was like for me. I was so into it and wanted him to make that putt. Just to say why not. Why can’t it happen?…To watch him play, that was unbelievable. I like Stewart Cink and I felt bad for him. He’s going to win a Major Championship, but you’ve got Tom Watson there and that’s incredible. It was really emotional.”

Twins (47-44)
2nd place in AL Central, 1.5 games back

Denard Span, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brendan Harris, 3B
Delmon Young, DH
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, SS
Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-9, 5.47)

Rangers (48-41)
2nd place in AL West, 3.5 games back

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Michael Young, 3B
Josh Hamilton, DH
Andruw Jones, LF RF
Hank Blalock, 1B
Marlon Byrd, CF
Nelson Cruz, RF David Murphy, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Elvis Andrus, SS
Pitching: LHP Derek Holland (3-5, 5.97)

Watching from afar

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire always knew that Garrett Jones had power potential, so he hasn’t exactly been surprised by the show that Jones is putting on with his new organization.

Jones was the hero for the Pirates on Friday night when he hit two home runs — including a walkoff shot in the 14th inning — to carry Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win over the Giants.

It was a continuation of the success that Jones has been having with the Pirates. Since being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 30, Jones has hit seven home runs in 12 games for the Pirates. He’s currently homered in four consecutive games and has batted .313 with nine RBIs in those 12 games.

“I think everybody has always said that if this guy could figure it out and get going and relax enough to let it happen, boy,” Gardenhire said. “Because you watch him in batting practice and sometimes in games when he got ahold of a one, the ball went as far off his bat as anybody’s. I don’t think you’ll find anybody more excited than us to watch those highlights and see those home runs because he’s a quality, quality, person.”

Prior to this season, Jones had spent the last seven years in the Twins organization — including the majority of his past four seasons at Triple-A Rochester. His only previous Major League experience came in 2007, when he batted .208 (16-for-77) with two home runs in 31 games for Minnesota.

Jones didn’t get a call-up last season, playing all year for Rochester. There were some pundits who said that perhaps the club had kept the power hitting infielder in the organization for too long.

But Gardenhire said that the club always knew Jones had the potential, now he has just taken advantage of getting consistent playing time. With the Twins he was expected to come off the bench since the club had Justin Morneau entrenched at first base and a crowded outfield.

“That was a role that was really hard for him,” Gardenhire said. “His swing needed to be out there every day. He needed to be getting 500 swings. I don’t think there was a question he could hit 20 home runs if he got 500 at-bats,. it was whether he could do the role we had for him.”

Things didn’t work out for Jones in Minnesota, but Gardenhire said that there can’t be any regrets about that.

“Sure you wish you could have kept some guys but they move on,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the game of baseball…If they didn’t get it done here, you root for them to get it done somewhere else if they are a quality person. So [to see what Jones is doing], that’s what you hope for”.

And now for the pitching change, Rick Anderson…Saturday lineups: Twins at Mariners

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was still hobbling around on Saturday morning after injuring his hamstring during Friday’s early batting practice at Safeco Field. He was shagging in the outfield when he took a step and spun, pulling his hamstring in the process.

The injury prevented Gardenhire from being able to go to the mound to make pitching changes in Friday night’s 2-1, 10-inning win. He said it’s likely that pitching coach Rick Anderson will hold that duty again for Saturday’s contest since it’s still difficult for the skipper to walk up stairs.

“I haven’t had that feeling in a long time,” said Gardenhire, who acknowledged that he pulled his share of hamstrings during his playing career. “I took one bad step and spun with my tennis shoes a little bit.”

While Gardenhire is on injured reserve, Michael Cuddyer was back in the lineup on Saturday to face left-hander Jarrod Washburn. The Twins don’t have great career numbers vs. Washburn. Only Alexi Casilla, 4-for-12 (.333), and Brendan Harris, 5-for-10 (.500), are hitting above .300 agianst the tough lefty.

Here are today’s lineups for one of FOX’s Games of the Week.

Denard Span, CF
Joe Mauer, DH
Justin Morneau, 1B
Joe Crede, 3B
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Brendan Harris, SS
Mike Redmond, C
Delmon Young, LF
Alexi Casilla, 2B
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Russell Branyan, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Ken Griffey Jr., DH
Jose Lopez, 2B
Ronny Cedeno, SS
Endy Chavez, LF
Guillermo Guiroz, C
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Pitching: Jarrod Washburn, LHP


Gardenhire ejected

MINNEAPOLIS – Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected
from Thursday’s contest against the Tigers in the seventh inning by home plate
umpire Paul Nauert following an argument about a potential hit-by-pitch call.

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Gardenhire went out to argue with Nauert after Michael
Cuddyer thought a 1-0 pitch from Tigers right-hander Zach Miner caught a piece
of his jersey. After the ball grazed by his left shoulder, Cuddyer threw his
bat down and appeared headed for first base before Nauert ruled it just a ball.

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Cuddyer started to exchange words with Nauert before
Gardenhire ran onto the field. After a heated discussion, Nauert threw
Gardenhire out of the game. It was the first ejection of the season for the
Twins manager and the 42nd of his career.

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The ejection came right after the Twins had pulled within
one run of the Tigers on Jason Kubel’s ground-rule double. Cuddyer eventually
drew a walk from Miner to load the bases as Minnesota completed a six-run
comeback in the inning to take a 6-5 lead over Detroit.

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