February 2008

Gardenhire impressed by Gomez

Friday, February 29th, 2008

FORT MYERS — An exchange from Ron Gardenhire’s postgame press conference:

Reporter: Will Carlos Gomez get the league’s respect with that arm?

Gardy: If he’s in the league he will. (Laughter.) You had him in the league already? Very nice. He’s got a great arm. A very exciting player. We know that. As advertised. He’s got a cannon. We said that.

Probably as strong, if not stronger, as you’ll see in this league — if he’s in this league. We’re working on getting him in this league, and he’s going to have to do that.

That was a great throw. That raised a lot of eyebrows, and there was a lot of “Oh-my-goodnesses” in the dugout, and I was one of them. There’s a long ways to go in spring training, but that was as advertised.

Reporter: Did Gomez throw to the wrong base the next inning?

Gardy: (Explains that the 3B and 1B weren’t in position to cut off the throw.)

I think if we had a cutoff man there, we might have been able to cut the ball. We got a little confused in the infield, with two guys [Brian Buscher and Randy Ruiz] who don’t play together.

He had no chance at home, but you say that with most arms, “They don’t have a chance.” He might have a chance.

Red Sox 8, Twins 3 (F)

Friday, February 29th, 2008

FORT MYERS — Some quick thoughts from Hammond Stadium:

(*) Kevin Youkilis worked the count full and fouled off a few pitches before hitting a two-run homer off Kevin Slowey, which broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Youkilis had several great at-bats like that last October. Jason Varitek followed with another home run, an opposite-field shot just over the left field wall.

(*) Boof Bonser was solid, allowing just one hit in his two innings.

(*) 2B Nick Punto made a terrific play in the first inning, racing behind the pitcher’s mound to field a high chopper from Dustin Pedroia and then throwing across his body to get the out at first base. Punto also had a good first at-bat against Hideki Okajima, fouling off several two-strike pitches before flying out to the left-field warning track.

(*) In his first at-bat in a Twins uniform, Delmon Young lined a single to center field against Dice-K Matsuzaka. One thing I’ve learned about Delmon is that he seems to have an encyclopedic memory about pitchers he’s faced.

Looked it up, and sure enough, he faced Dice-K several times last season, going 3-for-11 (.273). It was also striking how much the Red Sox infielders played Young to pull. They’ve got a long book on him, too.

(*) Carlos Gomez replaced Denard Span in center field to start the fifth inning and made an immediate impact. With Dustin Pedroia on second base, Joe Thurston singled to center field, and the stadium braced itself for a play at the plate. Well, it wasn’t even close. Gomez threw a no-hop strike to home plate and got Pedroia by several steps.

One batter later, Jason Pridie got a chance to show off his arm from right field, and it was nowhere near as impressive, as Thurston scored on a single.

(*) OK, Gomez can throw. We get it. But he just cost his team an extra base. Coco Crisp flared a single into short right-center field, and with George Kottaras well past third base, Gomez tried to be Superman and throw him out at home. It wasn’t close and Crisp trotted to second base. You can bet after the game, both of those plays will be on Gardy’s mind.

(*) Brian Buscher homered off Julian Tavarez, leading off the sixth inning, finally putting the Twins on the scoreboard. Counting the workouts and the Concordia game, Buscher has raised his stock more than any other player in Twins camp.

Fifteen innings into the Grapefruit League season, the Twins have their first extra-base hit.

(*) Gomez just hit a tailor-made double play ball to third base … and beat the relay throw to first base. You see lefthanded hitters get down the line that quickly, but it was eye-opening seeing a righthanded hitter do it.

Liriano holds back again

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Francisco Liriano threw for about 15-20 minutes today in his second bullpen session in three days, and pitching coach Rick Anderson said the next step will be a live batting practice session Sunday.

Once again, Liriano did not throw full-throttle.

“I told him, ‘Just remember, spring training for you is the same as it is for everyone else, ‘ ” Anderson said. “It’s a progression. You don’t want to start up on top. You start with everyone else.”

Liriano later told us he was throwing harder in the Dominican Republic, before coming to Florida, because he was pitching in games.

“They told me to take it easy,” Liriano said. “We’ve got a month to go, you know.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire did not watch the bullpen session but noted Liriano’s struggles in the fielding drills.

“He’s obviously a little behind on his PFP [pitcher fielding practice],” Gardenhire said. “He’s a little sloppy. But hopefully he’ll get caught up and get in tune with that as we go along.

“He keeps saying he’s got a new glove. I keep saying, ‘You’re missing the ball. The ball’s coming 2 miles per hour, even with a new glove, you shouldn’t miss it. Get an old glove, son, because it looks ugly to me.’ “

Mayor’s Cup Preview

Friday, February 29th, 2008

FORT MYERS — This spring, the battle for the Fort Myers Mayor’s Cup — the annual spring training series between the Twins and Boston Red Sox — is going to be fast and furious.

The Red Sox will play their final Grapefruit League game on March 19 and travel to Japan, where they’ll open the regular season March 25-26 against Oakland.

First, the Red Sox have five exhibition games to play against the Twins, and these teams will meet each of the next three days.

Can the defending World Series champions be stopped? The Red Sox warmed up yesterday by destroying Boston College 24-0 and Northeastern 15-0.

Tonight, the Twins will face Dice-K Matsuzaka (first pitch 6:05 p.m., Central), followed by Jon Lester (a potential acquisition from the Johan Santana trade talks) on Saturday and Tim Wakefield on Sunday.

Reds 6, Twins 1: Postgame update

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

SARASOTA — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tried dwelling on the positives after Thursday’s 6-1 loss to Cincinnati.

Righthanders Scott Baker, Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek, Julio DePaula and Casey Daigle all had scoreless outings and pitched well. But the two lefties — Glen Perkins and Ricky Barrett — each surrendered three runs.

“Perk got the ball up,” Gardenhire said. “It was just up, up, up with everything. You saw the results. That was basically a wind-blown home run [by Jerry Gil], but he still got the ball up. Same with Ricky. Ricky got behind, had the ball up in the zone and that’s what you always see happen. When guys are up in the zone, it always ends up in runs.”

Regarding that potential first-inning double play ball, which Harris failed to turn, Gardenhire said, “He just released it a little high. The guy [Ryan Freel] was on him, but still, that’s a double play ball.”

The Twins finished with five hits, and their only run scored on an error.

“We hit some balls hard,” Gardenhire said. “Not many hits, but we hit some balls hard. Guys looked like they were ready to go. The good thing is for the most part, with the exception of a couple guys, we threw the ball good.”

Note: Our web editors have notified us that we are changing servers at 4 p.m. (Central). You will be able to make comments during the server change, but some of the comments made during the transition won’t get transferred onto the new server. Your patience is appreciated.