March 3, 2008

Spring Training Notes

Here are a few news/notes coming out of Spring Training:

Livan Hernandez had a solid first outing for the Twins yesterday as he allowed 1 run over 2 innnings while the Twins faced the Boston Red Sox. The reason I clarify it as a "solid first outing" is because of the fact that he faced many of the key members of the Red Sox lineup, while sporting a low-velocity repertoire of pitches. In fact, according to Joe Christensen, the home run ball hit by Mike Lowell was clocked at 83 mph.

He also impressed Ron Gardenhire:
“There wasn’t much of a strain out there. Just flipping it out there, not afraid to throw any pitch at any time, and that’s kind of why we signed him. So that was kind of a refreshing day for a starter. Looked like he fit right in. That was good stuff.”

Craig Monroe has a strained calf muscle. He hopes to get back into the lineup sometime early this week, but I just hope that any injury doesn't prolong throughout the season like another former Tiger's did last year.

Francisco Liriano had another bullpen session yesterday and was pitching much better than in his previous two sessions. He also left a good impression on pitching coach, Rick Anderson:
“That was outstanding,”
La Velle E. Neal III also said that Liriano's expected to have another bullpen session on Tuesday and is expected to make his Spring Training debut on Thursday or Friday of this week.

Brian Buscher has been steadily increasing his stock so far in the teams first few games. He's hit the ball very well and has made a few nice digs on defense as well. He's also playing some first base as well to increase his chances of making the club as a reserve for both Mike Lamb and Justin Morneau. That of course is if he isn't starting over Lamb. Anything is possibly I guess, although given the contract the team just gave to Lamb, I'd be surprised if he wasn't starting come opening day.

The Twins are encouraging Delmon Young to take a lot of swings at pitches this spring and he's been showing better discipline than ever. In Tampa, he was being encouraged to take more balls and he'd end up swinging away. In fact, he lead the league in swings in at bats last season. I'm really excited to see what this guy is going to do for our team.

Here's what Ron Gardenhire has to say:
"All the on-base percentage [stats] and all those things -- he's dangerous when he lets that thing fly and gets fastballs," Gardenhire said. "We're going to want him to swing this year more than taking a lot of pitches and watching them go by."

Joe Nathan does not have a new contract, however Jim Souhan explains why he's worth the big money.

Ron Gardenhire is also very impressed with Carlos Gomez thus far, he likes the way he plays the game and loves the excitement he brings while he's on the field. Over the weekend, he stole second base off of Jon Lester of the Red Sox and was safe by a longshot. The team is very encouraged with his speed and athleticism on the field. But at the plate, they know he still has a lot to work on. Here's what hitting coach Joe Vavra had to say:

"You're thinking, 'How many swings can he make like that without breaking down?' " Vavra said. "Because he puts a tremendous amount of torque on his back, and if you do that too many times, boy. You try not to be so violent in your approach but try to be aggressive."

This is what Ron Gardenhire had to say about him:
"I really think he swung so hard that the bat broke before the ball got there," Gardenhire said. "... He's a little bit of a free spirit."

Here's how the center field competition looks so far (through 4 of 31 games):

Denard Span - 2-7, 2 runs, 1 SB, 1 assist
Carlos Gomez - 1-6, 1 K, 1 run, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 1 assist
Jason Pridie - 3-8, 2 K's, 1 run, 2 RBI, 1 SB,

I'm happy this looks to be like it's going to be a good competition. I definitely can't wait to see how this thing plays out.

Here's a good quote from Ron Gardenhire:
"Hey, we lost the cannons," (in regards to losing Johan Santana, Carlos Silva and Torii Hunter) Gardenhire said, smiling. "But we've got more bullets."