June 2008

Slowey’s track record hinted at this dominance

Monday, June 30th, 2008

As longtime readers of this blog might remember, I was fixated on Kevin Slowey’s performances last season for Class AAA Rochester.

He was named International League Pitcher of the Year after going 10-5 with a 1.89 ERA with five complete games and one shutout. His strikeouts-to-walks were 107-to-18.

Slowey doesn’t have an overpowering fastball or one particular off-speed pitch that dazzles. When he tossed a complete-game victory over the Royals on May 29, extending their losing streak to 11 games, Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski mused:

His name is Slowey, for crying out loud. Unless the Royals find a pitcher named “Hangingcurvey” this was about as good a chance as they would get.

Posnanski, who might be the best in our whole business, would be quick to recognize now that Slowey is performing much the way his minor-league track record suggested he would. In his past four starts, Slowey is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA.

All four starts were against NL teams: @ Milwaukee, Arizona, @ San Diego, Milwaukee. But try letting these combined numbers sink in for a moment: 29 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB, 24 K.

After his first major league shutout Sunday, Slowey was asked how it compared to the many dominant performances he had in the minors.

“Everybody’s a lot better,” he said. “They jump on your mistakes a lot more. But at the same time, the fielders behind you are much better. We made some great plays in center field. Something as a team we’re starting to get used to, and it’s almost unfair because [Carlos Gomez] makes highlight-reel catches every day.”

Note: Head to La Velle’s blog this afternoon for tonight’s starting lineups.

It’s official: Cuddyer to DL; Span promoted

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The Twins made it official, announcing that they will place Michael Cuddyer on the 15-day disabled list with a strained tendon in his left index finger and promote Denard Span from Class AAA Rochester.

Span will be at the Metrodome for Monday’s game against the Tigers.

The question now is how Span will be used. As a young player, the Twins want him to play regularly. I think he’ll get most of the starts in right field while Cuddyer is on the DL, but also spell Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young on occasion.

Cuddyer likely headed to DL; Span pulled from Rochester game

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Alexi Casilla returns to the lineup today and Michael Cuddyer will have the strained tendon in his left index finger examined by doctors this morning.

On his Sunday radio show, Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire told KSTP AM-1500 that Mike Lamb will get the start at DH. Updates to come, but here’s the lineup, as Gardy relayed it to Reusse and Souhan:

Update (12 p.m.): It sounds like Cuddyer is heading to the DL. Gardy said Cuddyer’s injured finger feels the same as yesterday. In other words, no improvement. Gardy still needed to meet with GM Bill Smith, but it sounds like Cuddyer will go on the DL and the Twins will recall Denard Span.

Might get another update on Cuddyer before the game, after he meets with the doctor again. Otherwise, a move could be announced after the game.

“It looks like probably a DL,” Gardenhire said. “His hand is no better today. He’s pretty frustrated. But we still need to let the doctors look at him.”

Update (12:05 p.m.): MLB has sent the final All-Star voting update before the teams are announced next Sunday. From the press release:

Many of the American League races will hinge on the final days of balloting for the 79th All-Star Game, which will be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Yankee Stadium. Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Boston Red Sox teammates Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is vying for the third starting outfield slot, cling to tight leads.

Mauer (1,632,338 votes), who has an edge for the second straight week, leads Boston’s Jason Varitek (1,487,390) by less than 145,000 votes. On the right side of the infield, the pair of Red Sox continues to hang on in their bids to make their Midsummer Classic debuts; Youkilis (1,915,376) is in front of Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (1,641,467) at first base and Pedroia (1,669,216) is outpacing Ian Kinsler (1,485,530) of the Texas Rangers at second.

Update (1:35 p.m.): Denard Span was pulled from Class AAA Rochester’s game today in the third inning and congratulated on his promotion to the big leagues. Looks like the roster move will happen after today’s Twins game.

Brewers (44-36)

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. J.J. Hardy, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, DH

5. Corey Hart, RF

6. Russell Branyan, 1B

7. Bill Hall, 3B

8. Mike Cameron, CF

9. Jason Kendall, C

Starting pitcher: RH Ben Sheets

Twins (44-37)

1. Carlos Gomez, CF

2. Alexi Casilla, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, RF

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. Brian Buscher, 3B

8. Brendan Harris, SS

9. Mike Lamb, DH

Starting pitcher: RH Kevin Slowey

Metrodome. First pitch: 1:10 p.m.

Postgame: Cuddyer and Casilla updates

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the team will know Sunday morning whether Michael Cuddyer needs to go on the disabled list with the strained tendon in his left index finger.

“How many days it’s going to be? We’re not positive,” Gardenhire said. “Doctors said if he comes in tomorrow, and he feels a little better, then we’ve got maybe two or three days. But if he comes in and he’s still really sore, we’re looking at probably a DL thing. So we’ll find out more tomorrow.”

Alexi Casilla, who has a strained middle finger on his left hand, will probably be back in the lineup Sunday to face Ben Sheets, Gardenhire said.

“Lexi should be fine,” Gardenhire said. He does have a little strain of the ligament, but doctors seem to think they can tape that thing together and he’ll be fine.”

Cuddyer day-to-day with finger injury

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

The Twins will try for their 11th win in a row tonight.

Joe Mauer is back in the lineup, but Alexi Casilla won’t start, and Michael Cuddyer is getting a break.

Updates to come…

Update (4:15 p.m.): Cuddyer has an injured left index finger. He will see team orthopedist Dan Buss before tonight’s game but is not taking batting practice and not expected to play.

Cuddyer said he has been dealing with the injury for two weeks, though this is the worst the finger has felt. The training staff believes he has an inflamed tendon.

This is not the same finger that Cuddyer injured in April. That was his right index finger.

Cuddyer’s pain was evident in his final at-bat Friday, though he did deliver a single.

* Casilla said he hoped to play tonight but woke up with more swelling in his injured finger than he expected.

“I know I’m going to play [Sunday],” Casilla said.

Update (4:30 p.m.): I hope to have a better update after Dr. Buss gets done checking on Cuddyer. For now, Cuddyer isn’t sure if he’ll have an MRI.

He said the finger hurts, even when he’s not bending it. But he can bend it, and he noted that he wouldn’t be able to bend the finger if the tendon was torn. So it could just be inflammation.

“I’ve definitely been dealing with it the past couple weeks, but it never was as bad as it was today,” Cuddyer said. “It’s just been sore. Today, I can’t play with it.”

Update (4:55 p.m.): Manager Ron Gardenhire said: “[Cuddyer] can’t swing. Tried some swings, and he keeps flying off all the time. So that’s not good news. The way I understand it right now, it’s day-to-day.

“That’s what they think it is, an inflamed tendon in his index finger that runs right down through the middle of his hand. He can’t grip the bat, so that doesn’t bode well for playing baseball.”

Update (6:10 p.m.): Dr. Dan Buss diagnosed Cuddyer with a strained tendon in the left index finger, and Cuddyer will be re-evaluated on Sunday. For now, there are no plans for an MRI exam. Cuddyer is still day-to-day.

Brewers (43-36)

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. J.J. Hardy, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, DH

5. Corey Hart, RF

6. Russell Branyan, 1B

7. Bill Hall, 3B

8. Mike Cameron, CF

9. Jason Kendall, C

Starting pitcher: LH Manny Parra

Twins (44-36)

1. Carlos Gomez, CF

2. Nick Punto, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Craig Monroe, DH

6. Jason Kubel, RF

7. Delmon Young, LF

8. Brian Buscher, 3B

9. Brendan Harris, SS

Starting pitcher: RH Livan Hernandez

Metrodome. First pitch: 6:10 p.m.