Today was a day that we call a “shorty” at MLB.com. That means that instead of heading on the roadtrip with the team to Fort Lauderdale, I remained behind to cover the workout at home. It’s one way that the bosses try to help make the long Spring Training schedule a little easier.
It was a pretty quiet day at the Twins complex. For most of the morning it was cloudy and overcast before the skies cleared and the sun appeared by midday, which was perfect for the players who had tee times scheduled for the afternoon since they got the trip off.
Glen Perkins threw a bullpen and said he worked on his slider. It’s a pitch that Perkins said he has to get a feel for early in spring and really the best way to do that is in a game setting. With his roster spot secure, Perkins said it’s a little easier this spring to work on the pitch.
Joe Mauer has also grown accustomed to these workouts, not that he’s taken part in any of them. The catcher has tried not to appear frustrated during his slow recovery from kidney surgery but even as he headed off to do his work on Sunday, it was clear that he’s itching to get back on the field.
Mauer’s slow progress this spring was something that manager Ron Gardenhire addressed with reporters during the roadtrip to Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s just been a slow process, probably slower than anybody expected,” Gardenhire told reporters on Sunday. “We can’t do anything about it because if you can’t run, you can’t run. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. He comes in and does all his work. No one is probably more frustrated than him.”
When asked whether he has considered scenarios should Mauer not be ready for Opening Day, Gardenhire indicated to reporters that he still is planning on the catcher being available April 6. At least, Gardenhire is for right now.
“I’m still holding my ground here, waiting,” Gardenhire told reporters. “Have I got secondary plans that I’m working on? I’m playing a lot of catchers. If it were to get to a point where he’s not going to be able to start with us, then we’ll start really locking down on things.”
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.
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.