I have returned from my secret assignment, where it wasn’t as warm as I hoped and it rained during the second day. Bleeck! But it was worth the trip, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for the results.
Twins catcher Jose Morales will have surgery a week from Friday on his sprained right wrist (convenient since it’s during TwinsFest). Twins hand specialist Dr. Tom Varecka will preform the surgery.
Morales is expected to need six to eight weeks to recover from surgery, which makes for an interesting end to spring training as he tries to break camp with the club.
Getting LOOGY With It
Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues, said today that he has signed lefthander Mark McLemore to a minor league deal. McLemore 29, posted a 3.86 ERA in 29 games with Houston in 2007 but missed all of 2008 because of Tommy John elbow surgery.
McLemore returned to go 5-10, 4.87 in 18 starts with Class AAA Round Rock last season. Now he has a shot at some innings at Class AAA Rochester.
About Those Contracts
Of the deals the Twins struck on Tuesday, it should be pointed out that only Brendan Harris’ two-year deal and Carl Pavano’s one-year deal at $7 million are guarenteed. The deals with Pat Neshek, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano are not.
That means the Twins can cut any of those players by 16 days before the start of the regular season (which I believe is March 20) and owe them one-sixth (30 days) of their salary. If one of those players is cut during the 16 days before the season starts, they owe them one-fourth (45 days) of their salary. Once the regular season starts, contracts are guaranteed.
It’s doubtful the Twins would do such a thing, but those are the rules.
The Twins are keeping their options open for infield and bench help.
Keep in mind that the Twins are only looking for a stopgap at third base because they feel Danny Valencia is their man for the future, a future that could start by midseason – or sooner if Valencia wows them in spring training. Anyone looking for a two-year deal can keep looking past the Twins.
While it’s unlikely that they won’t sign a veteran starter like Jarrod Washburn, the one thing the Twins can’t forget is how injuries to couple starters and Liriano’s troubles put them in a bind last year.
Jason Pridie should get a chance to win a backup spot in camp, but the Twins are still looking at backup centerfield options.
Checking In With the Canuck
Justin Morneau is in Arizona, his usual offseason location, getting ready for the upcoming season. His offseason is worth watching more closely because his season ended early because of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Morneau, in an e-mail, reported that he’s been slowed by the flu lately but he’s pleased where he’s at, physically.
“Back is doing well,” he wrote. “Almost up to full workouts.”
I’m sure he’ll expand on his condition next week during TwinsFest.
Who Will Bat Second?
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is unsure who will bat second this season, indicating that he might not use newcomer J.J. Hardy there. But Hardy has spent most of his career in the two hole and indicated this week that he has no problems filling that role for the Twins if asked.
Hardy, over the past three seasons, was a .273/.324/.468 hitter in the two hole. Who’s a better option on the roster? Will St. Joe have to bat second?
Liriano gave up another unearned run on Monday for Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. This outing doesn’t look as crisp as some of the others – five innings, five hits, two walks, six strikeouts. But he’s allowed just two unearned runs in 27 innings since the playoffs began.
I’m trying to find out if that was his final start of the winter. He’s scheduled to fly to the Twin Cities next week for TwinsFest.
Reports on Liriano have his slider clocked at 87-90 miles an hour, which has the Twins encouraged. But they will wait to see him in spring training before declaring that he has his mojo back. Stuff wasn’t the problem with Frankie last season, it was location then, ultimately, his confidence.
In this story, former Twin Mike Redmond claims that the Twins gave up on him. Knowing Red Dog like I do, I wonder if he was joking. Because even he has to look at his .237 batting average last season and remember how he felt physically – especially when he tried to throw runners out – and understand why the Twins didn’t bring him back.
The veteran, Crash Davis-type of backups are always fun to cover. Especially someone like Redmond, who was great at articulating the game. I’ll miss Redmond and I hope he proves he has a little more left in the tank with Cleveland.