By La Velle
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was scratched today after this back tightened up during batting practice. “Not a big deal,” he said. The Twins decided not to risk any further injury. Brock Peterson replaced Morneau at first base.
Catcher Jose Morales was told this morning that he will begin the season with the major league club. He began having flashbacks to events over the past couple of years, debuting in Chicago, injuring his ankle, trying to play on a bad ankle last year before having season-ending surgery.
“Then I started crying,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Drew Butera looked to have the edge to be on the Opening Day roster, as he was stronger defensively (which goes a long way with the pitching staff). But Morales made up enough ground since then to get the nod. He’s a switch-hitter with a good bat, which is a plus.
“We had a very, very tough decision on this one,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said. “Both Drew Butera and Jose Morales have played very well this year. Ultimately, Morales is an offensive catcher. Butera is a very good defensive catcher. And I think Jose has had a little more experience. He’s played at triple-A. We wanted to give him this chance.
“He’s a good fit with Mike Redmond. And Morales has improved his catching a lot during this spring training. The coaching staff has talked to him about cleaning up his catching and he’s worked very hard at it.”
Lefthnader Jose Mijares was cut from camp this morning after showing up overweight and posting a 9.90 ERA. Mirares told the media that he would be back in June, but Smith said he told Mijares to get ready as soon as he can because the Twins have frequently made mid-April pitching call ups.
In addition to Mijares and Butera, infielder Alejandro Machado also has been cut. Catcher Jeff Christy has been told he wil stick around until Saturday.
Was told that the decision on the final bullpen spot will be made soon, but the decision on the final backup infield spot could come down to the last day.
Outfielder Michael Cuddyer is in the Twin Cities having his left index finger examined. I was told its just a routine checkup and that he’s expected back in time to play in tomorrow’s game.
Carlos Gomez is leaving after batting practice today to take his pregnant wife to a routine check up.
Joe Mauer, working his way back from a sore sacroiliac joint, was on the field with the rest of the team this morning to play catch. Mauer squatted as he caught throws of up to 100 feet from Jason Kubel. One Twins official I spoke with this morning emphasized that Mauer is expected to rejoin the team sometime in April – whether it’s two or three weeks -or a little longer into April remains to be seen.
Joe Crede told me he will probably sit out the next couple of games to left his swollen right hand heal. Crede was plunked by a Matt Garza pitch yesterday. “No sense in pushing it,” he said.
Because Cuddyer and Gomez aren’t around. There’s a very interesting right fielder today.
Forgot to mention that Henry Sanchez, the Twins’ sandwich pick in 2005, hit a loooooong home run yesterday while playing for Class A Beloit. The oft-injured Sanchez, who is running out of time, recently had his knee drained. While the Twins initially wanted him to open the season at Class A Fort Myers, he’ll likely open the season as Beloit’s first baseman.
1. Nyjer Morgan, LF
2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B.
3. Nate McLouth, CF
4. Eric Hinske, DH
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Brandon Moss, RF
7. Ramon Vazquez, 3B
8. Jack Wilson, SS
9. Jason Jaramillo, C
Pitching: Jeff Karstens
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Matt Tolbert, SS
3. Brendan Harris, 2B
4. Jason Kubel, LF
5. Brian Buscher, 3B
6. Mike Redmond, C
7. Matt Moses, 2003 first-round pick. DH
8. Brock Peterson, 1B
9. Chris Parmelee, 2006 first-round pick, RF
Pitching: Nick Blackburn, Luis Ayala, Joe Nathan – Nathan will pitch the first of back-to-back outings as he gets ready for prime time.