March 21, 2008

Twins shutout Reds, 4-0

The Twins released a lineup last night against the Cincinnati Reds, which many believe will be very close to the lineup the Twins use on opening night. With exception to center field, all the positions seem to be set for the start of the season. Last night, Carlos Gomez got his chance in center field and made the most of it. He went 2-4 with his 5th double of Spring Training. He also showed off his base running skills with another stolen base, making it 9 on the Spring. Drew Butera has been working on his offense this spring, and it looks like he's might be onto something with a strong 2-2 performance in which he drove in his first two RBI of the Spring. Here's a good article on Butera by Kelly Theiser.

Kevin Slowey looks to be closing in on the rotation with another strong performance. He went 5 innings and only allowed 3 hits while striking out 5. He lowered his ERA from 5.91 to 4.02 after holding the Reds scoreless. Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, and Joe Nathan combined for 4 shutout innings while only giving up 2 hits and a walk. Nathan struck out 3 batters in his two innings of work, and Crain struck out 2 in his inning.

Next, the Twins will play host to the Phillies this afternoon. Livan Hernandez will start for the Twins while Adam Eaton will start for the Phillies. This will probably be Hernandez's second to last appearance this Spring.

Center Field Competition: Denard Span will need to continue his strong play the rest of Spring, with Carlos Gomez starting to improve. Span still seems like the most logical choice as he fits the lead-off spot better than Gomez does and he seems to play more fundamentally sound baseball. Gomez had a strong game yesterday going 2-4 to raise his average to .267.

Scott Baker is scheduled to make his return to the mound on Saturday in a minor league game. He's been out of action since March 8th as he's battled the flu. The Twins plan on using him every 4th day the rest of camp and they plan on skipping his first start of the season. He instead will pitch in another start after the end of camp before joining the Twins' rotation. At least, that's the plan. As for what the Twins will do with Baker's hole in the rotation, I don't think they've made a decision yet. I'd assume that they will bring either Nick Blackburn or Philip Humber to Minnesota after camp, and allow one of them to start in his place before demoting them to Rochester. It would allow them to get an extended look at either of the pitchers.

A more logical thing to do would be to prepare Glen Perkins to start in his place, as he'll likely be the 12th pitcher on the roster anyways. Either way, I think that whoever the 12 pitcher on the roster is, I think they should be the one to start in his place. Whether that be Blackburn, Perkins or Humber. I figure Perkins will be their choice, which is why I mention him.