March 2009


Postgame update: Crede and Young injured

Monday, March 30th, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLA. — Twins third baseman Joe Crede and left fielder Delmon Young will miss a couple days with injuries, Manager Ron Gardenhire said after today’s 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay.

Crede had some swelling between the knuckles of his right hand after getting drilled by Matt Garza’s fastball in the sixth inning.

Young has a sore right shoulder, Gardenhire said, and the team doesn’t want him to throw for a couple days.

“He should be fine for the season, but they said no throwing for a couple days,” Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said the team will have more cuts on Tuesday and should have their bullpen set, though he said the decision about the final bench player won’t be made until the final day of camp.

Update: The Twins also announced that they’ve sold out their April 6 opener against Seattle.

Monday update: Garza gets chance to face Twins

Monday, March 30th, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLA. — The Twins will face old friend Matt Garza today, when they square off with the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium.

Traded from the Twins in November 2007, Garza was named MVP of last year’s ALCS. Garza is slated to be Tampa Bay’s No. 3 starter this season behind James Shields and Scott Kazmir.

Garza is 0-0 with a 5.90 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts this spring. This might be the first time he’s ever faced the Twins. Checking on that. I know it didn’t happen last year during the regular season.

Justin Morneau and Joe Crede are back in the Twins’ lineup after being scratched Sunday. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he didn’t want either of them pushing it after a two-hour rain delay.

Both lineups are pretty good today. These teams are getting serious. You can tell it’s the final week of spring training.

Update: It is indeed Garza’s first time facing the Twins.

Update: Joe Crede was hit on the hand by a fastball from Matt Garza and left the game in pain in the sixth inning. Crede probably was going to leave the game anyway for a pinch runner, but I’ll have an update postgame.

Update: Crede was diagnosed with a bruised right hand. He he has a giant ice pack wrapped around the hand but doesn’t appeared headed for X-rays. Sounds like everything is intact.

RAYS

1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, DH
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Ben Zobrist, RF
8. Gabe Kapler, CF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Starting pitcher: RH Matt Garza

Matt Guerrier and Brian Duensing listed to pitch in relief.

TWINS

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Joe Crede, 3B
8. Jose Morales, C
9. Nick Punto, SS

Starting pitcher: LH Glen Perkins

Hammond Stadium. First pitch: 12:05 p.m.

Twins work trade to keep Rule 5 draft pick, Jason Jones

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLA. — Francisco Liriano gets his second-to-last tuneup of the spring today, as the Twins face the Red Sox at City of Palms Park.

Liriano is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA this spring and has allowed 14 hits and eight walks in 21 1/3 innings, notching 19 strikeouts.

Joe Nathan and Philip Humber are scheduled to pitch in relief. Humber has allowed one earned run in his last six appearances, spanning eight innings.

Update: The Twins traded Class A pitcher Charles Nolte to the Yankees today to acquire the rights of Rule 5 draft pick Jason Jones.

The Twins assigned Jones to Class AAA Rochester, where he will be part of the starting rotation.

Nolte went 4-3 with a 2.05 ERA in 44 relief appearances last season for Class A Beloit.

Jones went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in seven games for the Twins this spring, allowing 11 hits and three walks in 10 innings.

Update: The Red Sox scored seven runs against Liriano in the third inning with home runs from Rocco Baldelli, David Ortiz and Jason Bay. Liriano threw 72 pitches in three innings, and Joe Nathan came in to pitch the fourth.

Luis Ayala pitched two innings against Class AAA Pawtucket today, allowing one unearned run with no walks and three strikeouts.

Update: Got an e-mail on this, and yes, there is a stiff wind blowing out to left field. That helped lift Ortiz’s liner over the left-field wall, but Baldelli crushed his over the scoreboard in left center, and Bay’s was hit a country mile to left.

Liriano did not use the wind as an excuse.

“When you get behind in the count, you get hurt, and that’s what happened today,” he said. “It’s one of those days, no matter what you throw, they’re going to hit it.”

Liriano will get one more start before spring training ends, likely Thursday against Boston again.

“I feel comfortable at this point, I’ve just gotta keep working on locating my fastball,” he said. ”That’s the main thing for me just locating my fastball, and everything’s going to be OK.”

TWINS

1. Denard Span, RF
2. Carlos Gomez, CF
3. Joe Crede, 3B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Brian Buscher, 1B
7. Brendan Harris, SS
8. Mike Redmond, C
9. Matt Tolbert, 2B

RED SOX

1. Rocco Baldelli, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Mike Lowell, 3B
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. George Kottaras, C
9. Nick Green, RF

Starting pitcher: Brad Penny

City of Palms Park. First pitch: 12:05 p.m. (Central)

Butera separating himself with defense

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLA. — As Patrick Reusse reported last Sunday, Twins catcher Drew Butera has the inside track over Jose Morales for an Opening Day roster spot, assuming Joe Mauer begins the season on the disabled list.

Morales, a switch-hitter, is batting 1.000 (3-for-3) for his major league career. Butera batted just .219 last year for Class AA New Britain, but this choice will be all about defense, and there is no comparison.

Morales is a converted infielder who’s still learning the catching trade. His games have been described as “sloppy.” There are rumblings that Twins starters have not been satisfied with Morales’ game-calling abilities. That is no small thing because many of them are used to being on auto-pilot with Mauer.

Meanwhile, Butera is a defensive whiz. The Twins thought he was ready to handle big league pitchers last spring. On Tuesday, there were rave reviews about Butera’s defense again, as the Twins toppled the Marlins 8-1.

Kevin Slowey pitched five strong innings. Asked about his outing, he began by saying, “That was my second time pitching to Drew Butera, and we were even more on the same page than we were last time. He called a good game.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire added, “The game was crisp. Catchers are doing a good job.”

For what it’s worth, Morales is batting .188 (3-for-16) this spring, and Butera .364 (4-for-11).

La Velle received indications Wednesday that Mauer’s back has felt much better in recent days, but Mauer is doubtful for Opening Day, and it looks like Butera will get his roster spot.

Note: Beyond the two columns per week Reusse is writing for us, he’s been churning out some great stuff over at his blog for KSTP (AM-1500). Basically, he filed four extra columns from Fort Myers last week and has another one up today on Minneapolis legend Johnny Blanchard.

Slowey’s bat and arm carry Twins to 8-1 victory

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

JUPITER, FLA. — Kevin Slowey lined two run-scoring hits today, racking up three RBI, as the Twins defeated the Florida Marlins 8-1 at Roger Dean Stadium.

Slowey lined a run-scoring single to center in the second inning, and smashed a two-run double to left field in the fourth, with both hits coming off Marlins starter Chris Volstad.

“I didn’t want to pinch hit for him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Slowey didn’t pitch too badly either, holding the Marlins to one run on two hits over five innings. Slowey didn’t walk a batter — he’s walked only one batter in 14 1/3 Grapefruit League innings — and notched five strikeouts.

Dan Uggla’s long home run to left field in the second inning was Slowey’s only blemish.

Told that he had two of the harder hit balls of the day, Slowey said, “I guess. I don’t know. Uggla hit one pretty hard.”