March 27, 2008

Gomez Hurt, Baker getting stronger

Well although the Twins won behind an impressive Livan Hernandez, it was not exactly what the Twins wanted to see, center fielder Carlos Gomez go down with an injury.

Gomez started the game in center field and reached base twice before he came up lame while chasing a ball in left-center field. He grabbed his hamstring in pain and was taken out with what we now have found out was just a hamstring cramp. I italicized just, because although you don't want a speedy player having hamstring problems, it's good that it was indeed just a cramp, and nothing more serious. In fact, according to Joe Christensen, after the game Gomez "practically begged" manager Ron Gardenhire to let him take the trip to Sarasota today and be in the lineup. Gardenhire obliged but will be watching him very closely all game. So today will be a big test to see what the twins do with Gomez. They won't take any chances on his health, so if he shows lingering effects of it today, he might spend time on the Disabled List. But as of right now, he's considered day-to-day.

The Twins sent out a lineup that will likely be used this season against left-handed pitchers, with exception to just one player. Hitting in leadoff, Gomez went 1-2 with a double, a run, and also reached after being hit from a pitch by James Shields of the Rays. Next came Joe Mauer and he went 2-4 with his 5th double and 8th RBI of the spring. Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Delmon Young, and Craig Monroe followed and each had one hit apiece. Cuddyer's hit was a single and he also came around to score, Morneau's hit was a double and he also scored. Young and Monroe also hit singles, but Young drove in his 12th RBI of the spring yesterday as well. Mike Lamb batted 7th and went hitless to drop his spring average to .333. Brendan Harris played second base and continued to hit better with a 1-3 performance. And finally, the only guy unlikely to be a starter (at least initially), Matt Tolbert went 2-3 with his second double of the spring.

Nick Punto came into the game to replace Gomez in center field and Trevor Plouffe replaced Tolbert at shortstop and both went 0-1 at the plate. Eli Whiteside (catcher) and Jon Knott (first base) also came into the game as defensive replacements but neither had plate appearances.

As I said, Hernandez had an impressive outing in what looks to be his last start before opening day. He went 6 innings and gave up 1 run on 4 hits while walking 1 and fanning 5. Two of the hits he surrenderd came off the bat of ex-Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett. Pat Neshek continued his scoreless spring with another 1-2-3 seventh inning. The newly signed closer, Joe Nathan, gave up one run on two hits in the 8th inning. And Jeff Manship got his shot in big league camp with a 1-2-3 9th inning to get the save.

Next, the Twins will travel to Sarasota today to face the Cincinnati Reds. Boof Bonser will face off against Bronson Arroyo. Hopefully Bonser can show better accuracy with his pitches as he has a 6/5 BB/K ratio this spring.

Scott Baker threw 49 pitches for the Rochester Red Wings yesterday in a game against the New Britain Rock Cats. The Twins wanted to see that number closer to 65-70, but Ron Gardenhire was satisfied with the way he pitched and said that he will make another start on Sunday in which the team wants to see him add at least another 15 pitches to his performance. Baker is coming back from the flu in which he lost 12 lbs. With a solid start on Sunday, the Twins probably will use him as the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation and he should be able to avoid the disabled list.

Make sure to check out the new Twinkie Town. It's a completely new look from before and has many new features to check out. Make sure to stop by and take a look.