May 2009


Twins-Red Sox: Pregame

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Greetings from the Dome, where the Twins try to get in the win column today against Jon Lester and the Red Sox.

UPDATE: Twins third baseman Joe Crede had X-Rays of his right hand taken today. Twins doctors will look at them when they get to the park. Crede said his hand is still tender but doesn’t think it’s serious. 

Joe Mauer has been named the AL player of the week after batting .458 with four homers, 13 RBI, 12 runs scored,25 total bases, a .516 on base percentage and a 1.042 slugging percentage in seven games last week.

More Mauer: He’s the first Twin ever to have 11 homers and at least 30 RBI in the same month. The only other time that has happened in franchise history was 1960, when Harmon Killebrew hit 13 homers and had 37 RBI in August of that year while with the Senators.

The club record for homers in any month is 14, hit by Killer in June of 1964.

Denard Span, during his weekly radio appearance on KFAN, said he planned to be in the starting lineup tonight. Span had just left a doctor’s office when he made his prediction…and he is in the lineup.

We also should learn more about Joe Crede’s right hand, which was hit by a pitch on Sunday and caused him to miss Monday’s game.

Anthony Swarzak is throwing in the bullpen right now. Francisco Liriano came out on the field to get his running in – which is customary on the day after a starter’s outing. But Liriano also spent time talking with Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson. I’m sure they have a lot to talk about.

Carlos Gomez is on his way to the batting cage for early hitting.

Oh boy, Justin Morneau has some of his hockey buddies taking batting practice. One of them definitely looks like Mark Parrish…. 

Lineups

Red Sox (27-18)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. J.d. Drew, RF
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. David Ortiz, DH
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Jeff Bailey, 1B
9. Julio Lugo, SS

Pitching: Jon Lester, LHP

Twins (22-24)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Brendan Harris, 3B
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Nick Punto. SS

Pitching: Nick Blackburn, RHP

Twins are Mauerless, Credeless and Spanless against the Red Sox

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire checked his troops this morning and came back with the following: 

Joe Crede’s right hand is still sore after being hit with a Dave Bush pitch yesterday. So Brian Buscher  is at third base. The medical staff believes it’s just a deep bruise.

“Swollen,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want to screw with something like that. Plus the astroturf thing, the day game after a night game thing.”

Joe Mauer has general catcher’s soreness. As much as Gardenhire wants to start him, Mike Redmond will play today. “It’s time,” Gardenhire said. “This is a stretched of 20 games in a row, and he’s caught or DH’d in all of them.”

 Span?

“Still light-headed,” Gardy saiu.I can’t take that chance of sending him out there. Says if I need him today I can play him, but that’s scary to me.” 

Gardenhire has to look at the big picture, especially with Mauer. 

“We all know you have to give them a break. When you’ve got the days scheduled and you give them a week or ten days, that’s easier. But when you go 20 days, that’s not easy. Morneau, you give him a DH day but he’s still playing. The DH day I think helps him. And the same with the catcher. We’re in a situation where he may be the best player in the league, and it’s really hard to sit him down…but you have to. You can’t take a chance to wear him out. He needs a break like every other catcher.” 

And Carlos Gomez, in what might be the injury of the year, needed two stitches in his head after getting caught in the revolving door while entering the stadium this morning. But he’s in the lineup. 

Back to previous programming.

Great day to be inside to watch baseball – I’m running out of chances to write that one.

By the way, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone with the Brewers gets plunked during the first game there on June 23. The two Twins who were hit had homered in the game – plus one of them is the all-world catcher. The last thing you want to see is someone with a hand or wrist problem try to swing a bat.

One Twins player reminded me that Justin Morneau was hit on the elbow during Saturday’s game, so there’s a case building. 

Scott Baker on Sunday finally made the adjustment he’s been trying to make. He was taller in his delivery, which helped him get a good downward angle on his pitches. He said he’s been working hard with pitching coach Rick Anderson to get that angle back, and he had it on Sunday. His stuff looked sharper, too.

Red Sox (26-18)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. Mike Lowell, DH
6. Rocco Baldelli, RF
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Jeff Bailey, 1B
9.  Julio Lugo, SS

Pitching: Brad Penny

Twins (22-23)

1. Carlos Gomez, CF
2. Matt Tolbert, 2B
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Jason Kubel, DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Brian Buscher, 3B
7. Mike Redmond, C
8. Delmon Young, LF
9. Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: Francisco Liriano

Twins-Brewers: Span scratched from lineup

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Twins outfielder Denard Span has felt dizzy and hasn’t had a lot of energy the past couple of days.  “I didn’t even pick up a bat today,” he said.

He was in the outfield during pre-game but eventually walked off the field, talked with Twins trainers and then retreated to the clubhouse. Twins doctors are expected to look at shortly before game time.

That has led to a lineup renovation. See below.

Back to regular programming….

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Let’s not forget about those who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to to protect this country.

Jason Kubel said his left knee remains a little swollen but he’s about ready to play. He planned to lobby manager Ron Gardenhire to be in today’s lineup but Gardenhire wants to wait one more day.

Delmon Young has returned to the club after attending his mother’s funeral and took early batting practice.

Michael Cuddyer is batting .360 with 6 homers and 24 RBI since Apr. 27. He’s 6 for 11 in his career against Dave Bush.

The Twins’ 139 runs in May are the second-most in baseball.

Twins also have homered in six straight games. If they go deep today, it will be their first seven-game homer run since August of 2005.

The Brewers are trying to avoid getting swept for the first time this season.

Prince Fielder is 4-for-11 against Scott Baker. Bill Hall has two homers off Baker. I don’t have the Brewers lineup yet.

Brewers (26-17) 

1. Craig Counsell, SS
2. Casey McGehee, 2B
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Mike Cameron, CF
6. Corey Hart, RF
7. Mat Gamel, DH
8. Mike Rivera, C
9. Bill Hall, 3B

Pitching: Dave Bush

Twins (21-23)

1. Carlos Gomez, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, DH
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Joe Crede, 3B
6. Brian Buscher, 1B
7. Brendan Harris, 2B
8. Delmon Young, LF
9. Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: Scott Baker

Twins-Brewers: Kubel scratched with sore left knee.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Twins DH Jason Kubel was scratched from today’s lineup with a swollen left knee.

“The bad one,” he said.

That’s the knee he tore three ligaments in during Arizona Fall League play in 2004. But Kubel chuckled while commenting, a sign that he doesn’t feel it’s serious.

Kubel said he tweaked his knee in the first inning Thursday while chasing a ball down in the outfield then fouled a pitch off of it later in the game. “It’s pretty swollen,” he said.

Kubel will ice and ride a bike to keep the knee loose, and is available to pinch hit if needed.

That led to a mini-overhaul of the Twins lineup, as Joe Crede moved to DH and Michael Cuddyer into the four-hole. 

The Twins went 1-6 on their road trip but outscored opponents 42-35 – thanks to the 20-1 Thursday afternoon massacre of the White Sox.

Still, it was the first any team won only one game of a road trip of at least seven games and outscored opponents. That team was the 1973 Twins, who went 1-6 but outscored opponents 27-26.

Yesterday’s game was the first time in 21 games at Chicago that the Twins didn’t give up a home run.

Tom Kelly is in uniform tonight, hitting grounders during batting practice. He’s replacing Scott Ullger, who will miss a couple of days while attending his daughter’s college graduation.

Lineups:

Brewers (26-15)

1. Craig Counsell, 2B
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Mike Cameron, CF
6. Cory Hart, RF
7. Mat Gamel, DH
8. Casey McGehee, 3B
9. Jason Kendall, C

Pitching: Manny Parra, LHP

 Twins (19-23)

1. Denard Span, LF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Joe Crede, DH
6. Brendan Harris, 3B
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: Kevin Slowey, RHP

Quick minor league notes

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

But first, how about the Twins pitching staff?

While Joe C. and I tracked the Twins’ search for third base help during the offseason, a few of you were concerned about the search for relief help. Clearly, the Twins weren’t aiming high. The free agent market wasn’t deep.  They didn’t look into signing Juan Cruz until the league adjusted it’s sign-and-trade rules, and then only offered a one year contract.

The Twins signed Luis Ayala, who has proven that his best role is to not pitch in the eighth inning. Most staffs have pitchers like that – but problem is that he doesn’t solve the Twins problems.

The eighth-inning problem is as big as ever and threatens to ruin the season – again.

Will the Twins look for help before the trade deadline? I’m sure they will.

They’ll sniff around this guy some more. He’s got his velocity up. Word is that you don’t want to look at the MRI  – but that was also the case with Dennys Reyes.

The bullpen could hinge on if the Twins get Juan Morillo to refine his control at Rochester and get back up here. I have absolutely NO confidence that they will be able to deal for credible relief help.

My concern isn’t just with the bullpen. The Twins don’t have a clear No. 1 starter – and might not have a No. 2 Francisco Liriano is the closest thing they have to a No. 2 but he’s still a work in progress.  Right now, it looks like the Twins have a bunch of mid-rotation starters trying to keep their heads above water.

And the Twins don’t have anyone in the minors who projects as a front of the rotation stud. Carlos Gutierrez might be the closest they have to one – but he could end up as a reliever. Tyler Robertson? Maybe? Looks like an area that needs to be addressed starting with next month’s draft.

Speaking of the minors – boy, that was a long intro….

Shooter Hunt, the 31st overall pick last year, has been sent to extended spring training with a, ahem, groin injury. This will give him time to work on his control.

Righthander Ben Hendrickson, a St. Cloud native, has been assigned to Class AAA Rochester to replace Anthony Swarzak. He signed with the Twins in spring training and has been working out at extended spring training.

Class A Fort Myers outfielder Ben Revere was named Florida State League player of the week last week after hitting .625.

Ramon Santana, who recently came off the DL, was 3-for-4 yesterday with a homer and 4 RBI as Class A Beloit beat Fort Wayne 14-9.

The Twins have promoted third baseman Nick Romero to Fort Myers. Third baseman Deibinson Romero is already there, which was a head-scratcher. But I was told that Nick Romero also plays shortstop (didn’t know that) and will play some short at Fort Myers since Estarlin De Los Santos is back on the DL.

De Los Santos is supposed to be a pretty good prospect but is struggling with injuries.

Let’s see if Joe C. can get the lads to win one today before I get my hands on this club tomorrow for the first of three against the team from Milwaukee – you know, that Chicago suburb….