March 17, 2008

Spring Training Rumblings

It was not exactly what the Twins had in mind when they signed Livan Hernandez earlier in the off-season. He attacked the hitters nicely throughout the first 2 innings, but after that, he left the ball up in the zone and gave up what seemed to be hit, after hit, after hit while giving up 6 runs in his 4 innings of work. He gave up 2 runs in the fifth round before leaving, and Randy Keisler let in another of Hernandez's runs before getting out of the fifth inning. Joe Nathan later came in and struck out 2 while lowering his ERA to 1.50 on the spring in another scoreless inning.

Offensively, the Twins got 8 hits off of the Blue Jays, and four of them came off the bats of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The two combined to go 4-6 with 2 runs and 2 RBI's. Carlos Gomez got a bunt single and, to no surprise, ran the bases very well and he's living up to the nickname "Go-Go" as he stole his 6th base of the spring. Craig Monroe hit a nice RBI double into the gap between the baseline and the outfielder in left field. And Denard Span also collected a hit to raise his average to .287 on the Spring.

A Scary moment happened in the fifth inning. Matt Watson of the Blue Jays hit a ball to the wall in center field. Going all out, Gomez caught the ball over his shoulder and went into the wall face first. It knocked the wind out of him, and as he laid on the ground, I'm sure many Twins fans' hearts stopped for just a moment before he walked off the field under hi own power.

And despite getting off to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Twins lost to the Blue Jays, 8-3.

The Twins will play host to the Marlins tomorrow, when Francisco Liriano makes his third start of the Spring. Hopefully this outing will be better than his last start against the Red Sox, in which he gave up 3 runs in just 2 innings of work. But really, as long as he continues to be pain free and continues to work on his arm strength, results are not really a big deal to me right now.

After Alexi Casilla was sent down in the second round of cuts, Ron Gardenhire mentioned that he may be moved back to shortstop as he's been "sloppy" at second. Gardenhire also went as far as to say that Casilla may very well be our future shortstop.

This comes as a little of a surprise as Gardenhire has been pretty adamant on leaving him at second base, despite the fact that he has one of the best arms of any of our infielders and has more range than any of them as well. The move would be a logical thing to do, as the other infielder viewed as the "future shorstop", Trevo
r Plouffe's defense has been sporadic throughout his career. Casilla will start the season in Rochester, where he'll be joined with Alejandro Machado, Tommy Watkins (probably), Matt Tolbert (probably) and Matt Macri who could all be looking for spots in the middle of the infield. As of right now, Casilla is viewed as the likely starter at shortstop with Macri at third and Tolbert at second in Rochester.

• Players of the Week (3/10-3/16)

At the Plate
Joe Mauer - Catcher
Note: Joe Mauer had an exceptional week and has really impressed so far this spring. There seems to be no lingering effects from his quad injury that put him on the disabled list last season, which definitely means that with all injuries aside, we should expect numbers to be back up this season, like they were in 2006 when he won the American League Batting Title. Mauer improved his Spring average to .409 while going 5-10 with 7 runs, 3 RBI, a double and a home run last week.

Runner-Up: Carlos Gomez, Right/Center Field: 6-17, 5 Runs, 3 RBI's, 2B, 3B, HR and 2 SB's.

On the Mound
Kevin Slowey - Right Handed Starter

Note: After having a rough first couple of starts, Kevin Slowey seems to have found his groove. He had an impressive week winning both of his decisions to go 2-1 on the spring. He allowed 6 hits in this first start, but proceeded to shutout the Marlins through 3 innings of work. He finished the week going 2-0 in two starts. He pitched 7 innings, allowed 1 run on 8 hits, walked just one batter while striking out 8.

Runner-Up: Phil Humber, Right Handed Starter: 1 Hold, 1 Save, 5 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 1 strikeout.

The Twins announced on Sunday that two more players were cut, to lower the number to 40 players who remain in Major League Camp. Pitchers Carmen Cali and Kevin Mulvey were sent to Minor League camp, despite both having impressed while in camp. Cali cleared waivers, which he needed to do as he is out of options, so he'll start the season in Rochester, where Mulvey will be joining him.

Cali was viewed as one of the likely options for the Twins' 12th pitching spot. Ron Gardenhire has expressed his desire to carry two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, and Cali would've given him that. This could open the door to Glen Perkins, who has spent both of his trips to the majors in the bullpen, and has had success in limited action. The team views him as a starter, but with Cali cut, he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.