February 2008


Slowey and Buscher…and Johan!

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Kevin Slowey was on his way to a smooth first outing. He struck out David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to open the fourth, and it seemed like everything I heard about Slowey in camp was true: He found some extra movement.

But then came a single by Mike Lowell and a two-run homer by Kevin Youkilis. Slowey couldn’t even get out of the inning, as Gardy had to bring in Brian Bass to get the final out.

“He kept trying to overthrow the ball,” Gardy said.

Brian Buscher impressed, making a nice stab of Youkilis’ hot grounder in the fifth and crushed a ball over the right field wall in the sixth – the first Twins’ RBI of the spring. Gardy backed up what other Twins officials have said about him.

“He’s kind of come here on a mission,” Gardy said.

Now, just in case anyone missed it. That’s right. Juan Gonzalez took Johan Santana deep for a three-run homer today…Santana’s quotes look very familiar….

Joe Nathan Disseminates Information

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I think Joe Nathan is tired of us asking him about his contract situation.

The Twins closer has a sign hanging over his clubhouse stall that reads: `Nothing to report.’

Nathan’s agent, Dave Pepe, and the Twins have tried to hammer out a deal but the sides apparently aren’t close. Pepe, when contacted today, reiterated that a deal gets tougher to do once the regular season starts.

You wonder if the Twins are approaching Nathan the way they approached Torii Hunter in that they may be reluctant to sign him to a deal longer than three years.

The Twins are stretching on the field as they prepare to face Dice-K, Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox. The Mets may be fined by the league for only bringing one regular on a recent road trip (the league wants at least four regulars on trips). But the Red Sox may deserve a bonus because Boof Bonser will face something close to an A-lineup:

1. Julio Lugo, 2. Dustin Pedroia. 3. Big Papi. 4. Manny Ramirez. 5. Mike Lowell. 6. Kevin Youkilis. 7. Jason Varitek, C. 8. Coco Crisp. 9. Bobby Kielty. Pitching:Dice-K.

Twins: 1. Span. 2. Kubel (DH). 3. Cuddy. 4. Morneau. 5. D.Y. 6. Red Dog. 7. Bushman. 8. LNP. 9. Everett. Pitching: Less of Boof.

Warning: This blog will switch to a new server at 4 p.m. and the migration won’t be complete for several hours. I’ll be unable to provide in-game details. Sorry for the inconvenience.

It’s Just A Matter Of Time…

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Pulled into the media lot at Ed Smith Stadium and was directed to a spot next to a white van – behind the Reds bullpen that’s right behind the right field wall and near the foul pole.

I’m done. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Adam Dunn are not in the lineup today. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are. But HOW is my rental car going to survive batting practice? One deep drive down the line and I’m going to need a new ride.

The Twins have Mauer, Kubel and Garrett Jones for lefty hitters. I’m not worried about Jones because he rarely pulls the ball down the line…. 

I posted the Twins lineup yesterday. Here’s the Reds lineup:

1. Norris Hopper, CF. 2 Ryan Freel, LF. 3. Brandon Phillips. 2B. 4. Edwin Encarnacion. 5. Jay Bruce, RF. 6.Andy Phillips, 1B. 7. Juan Castro, SS. 8. Javier Valentin, C. 9. Joey Votto. P Matt Belisle.

 

Let The Games Begin!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Here’s tomorrow’s starting lineup against the Fighting Krivsky’s:

1. Carlos Gomez, CF.

2. Brendan Harris, 2B.

3. Joe Mauer, C.

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF.

5. Jason Kubel, LF.

6.Craig Monroe, DH.

7. Mike Lamb, 3B.

8. Garrett Jones, 1B.

9. Alexi Casilla, SS

P Scott Baker, Glen Perkins, Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek, Casey Daigle, Rickey Barrett, Julio DePaula.

In other news…

The Twins announced the signing of 18 players – the Kevin Sloweys and the Brian Buschers of the world - to 2008 contracts, meaning everyone is signed before games begin. Teams sometimes are unable to agree to deals with players with 0 to 3 years of service time and simply renew the contracts (the Twins have even taken off a few grand in the past when that happens) but there were no renewals this year.

Twins GM Bill Smith gave credit to Assistant GM Rob Antony for getting the deals done quickly. Jack Goin, Administrative Assistant to the GM, handled the players with no service time. This may be my only chance to mention Goin for awhile, so now he can say he’s on the blogosphere this year. 

And Baseball America has released its top 100 prospects for 2008. Deolis Guerra is No. 35. Carlos Gomez is No. 52 and Nick Blackburn is No. 56.

More Franchise Thoughts

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I know Joe C. is musing about Liriano today, but I wanted to pile on.

Brian Duensing, warming up two spots from Liriano, threw harder than Franchise in the bullpen, but it sounds like it was by design.

The Twins were worried that Liriano would steamroll through his bullpen session with mega fastball after mega fastball – not acceptable for someone coming off of Tommy John surgery. So they had him back off. One Twins official I chatted with seemed to be pleased that Liriano threw as if it was Feb. 19 and not the 27th.

I stood on a stairway deck that’s behind the catchers and about 30 feet above the bullpen as Liriano threw. It looked like he threw all his pitches. He also looked like he was a little winded toward the end. Nerves? Possible. The cold and windy weather? It’s overcast and in the 60′s today, and Liriano has been pitching in warmer weather.

There were four photographers and one TV crew in addition to the group of Twin Cities baseball hacks who cover the team. In our market, that’s a media horde.

Oh well, on with the rest of camp. Duensing finished warming up and took to the mound on the main field to throw batting practice to Denard Span, Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer and Tommy Watkins. Span had a few nice opposite field liners off Duensing. Young flat-out hits the ball hard. I can’t wait to see him in games.

Cuddyer pulled off a veteran move before the workout, putting his feet in plastic bags and wrapping tape around his ankles to keep them in place – then putting his cleats on.

Why?

Today was sliding practice. Players take off their shoes to run across the outfield then slide on the grass to practice the proper technique. Socks get soaked with moisture from the grass and are soggy for the remainder of the workout, which Cuddyer hates. So on went the baggies…..