March 2012

Twins release Joel Zumaya

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins released right-hander Joel Zumaya, the club announced Wednesday.

Zumaya tore his ulnar collateral ligament on Feb. 25 while throwing a live batting-practice session on a practice field at the Lee County Sports Complex.

Zumaya, 27, is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Pensacola.

It will be his third operation on his elbow, as he had surgery after fracturing his elbow while pitching for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010, and had follow-up surgery last year that forced him to miss the ’11 season.

It’s the latest setback for Zumaya, who has been through a plethora of injuries since coming up with the Tigers as a rookie sensation in 2006, when he posted a 1.94 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings.

Since that rookie season, Zumaya has dealt with a finger injury that forced him to miss 96 games in 2007, a shoulder injury in ’08 that cost him 72 games and another shoulder injury in ’08 that caused him to miss 41 games before undergoing shoulder surgery in ’09.

Zumaya is set to earn only $400,000 of the one-year, $850,000 deal he signed this offseason because he failed to make the Opening Day roster.

With the move, the Twins have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

Game 26: Twins throw one-hitter vs. Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. — Five Twins pitchers, including starter Anthony Swarzak, combined to one-hit the Orioles in a 5-0 win on Tuesday at Ed Smith Stadium.

The Twins return home on Wednesday to host the Phillies at Hammond Stadium with left-hander Francisco Liriano set to take the mound.

What went right: The Twins shut down the Orioles, allowing just one hit and three walks on the afternoon.

Swarzak tossed 3 2/3 hitless innings, but did issue all three free passes. But Swarzak was rewarded after the game, as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Swarzak will be on the Opening Day roster.

Right-hander Jeff Gray also retired all seven batters he faced to lower his ERA to 2.16 this spring. He still likely remains on the outside looking in, but is on the 40-man roster and out of Minor League options.

Jared Burton continued his solid spring with a perfect seventh inning to lower his ERA to 1.13. And closer Matt Capps retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Justin Morneau also picked up another hit with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He drilled a two-strike curveball from right-hander Chris Tillman into right field.

Jamey Carroll went 1-for-3 with a two-run double in the second while Luke Hughes added an RBI double in the first.

The Twins also made a few nice defensive plays, including a diving snare from shortstop Brian Dozier and a diving play from second baseman Alexi Casilla in the sixth.

What went wrong: Not much, but left-hander Glen Perkins gave up the lone hit on a double to Robert Andino with two outs in the eighth inning.

But even on that play, the Twins executed a great relay, as Ben Revere got the ball to Alexi Casilla who threw Andino out at third.

What they said: “A good day,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I like to see that, get the outs we’re supposed to get, and pitchers throwing it over for the most part.”

What’s next: Left -hander Francisco Liriano is scheduled to make his sixth Grapefruit League start of the spring on Wednesday against the Phillies at Hammond Stadium. Liriano has been excellent so far this spring, posting a 2.00 ERA with 23 strikeouts and three walks in 18 innings. Right-hander Vance Worley is slated to start for Philadelpha.

Injury update: Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) is scheduled to play in a Minor League game on Wednesday after going through a workout without any issues on Tuesday. … Infielder Sean Burroughs had an X-ray taken on his left forearm a day after it was hit by a pitch. The results should come in on Wednesday … Outfielder Josh Willingham is fine after tweaking his ankle before Monday’s game against the Rays.

Game 26: Roster cuts, Twins lineup vs. Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Twins made another round of roster cuts this morning, optioning outfielder Joe Benson and right-hander Jeff Manship to Triple-A Rochester, and reassigning catcher Rene Rivera and infielder Pedro Florimon to Minor League camp.

None of those moves came as a complete surprise, although Manship was in the running for a spot in the bullpen and Florimon had a chance to stick as a utility infielder after Tsuyoshi Nishioka was optioned to Triple-A.

But Manship struggled in a recent outing against the Yankees and ended up with a 5.19 ERA, while Florimon hit just .148 with one extra-base hit.

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak makes his first start of the spring against the Orioles today. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are both in the lineup again today, as Mauer is starting at first base and Morneau is serving as designated hitter.

Twins (13-12)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Luke Hughes, 3B
6. Chris Parmelee, RF
7. Ben Revere, LF
8. J.R. Towles, C
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Anthony Swarazak

Twins pitchers: Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett, Jeff Gray

Orioles (10-9-5)
1. Nolan Reimold, LF
2. Nick Johnson, DH
3. Adam Jones, CF
4. Matt Wieters, C
5. Mark Reynolds, 3B
6. Wilson Betemit, RF
7. Chris Davis, 1B
8. Robert Andino, SS
9. Ryan Flaherty, 2B

LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

Game 25: Baker roughed up in loss to Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Scott Baker struggled in his first start since March 6, surrendering seven runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings in the Twins’ 10-4 loss to the Rays on Monday at Hammond Stadium.

The Twins have a chance to snap their two-game skid when they play the Orioles in Sarasota on Tuesday. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are both on the travel list to play in the game.

What went right: Morneau continued to show signs that his swing is coming around, as he went 1-for-3 with a double to mark his third-straight game with an extra-base hit.

He also shed some light on why he’s been serving as DH so much this spring, as it was doctors who told him that it can help him avoid suffering any concussion-related symptoms. Look for more details in today’s notebook.

Mauer also went 1-for-3 and is hitting .333 this spring. Ryan Doumit, starting in right field, connected on his first homer of the spring in the second inning. Brian Dinkelman went 2-for-2, Ben Revere went 2-for-3 and Chris Parmelee went 1-for-1 with a walk.

Right-hander Jeff Manship was the only reliever not to allow a run, tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Baker.

What went wrong: Baker simply wasn’t sharp, as he was hit hard, including a pair of homers from Ben Zobrist and Elliot Johnson. Both home runs came with two outs, and brought home a total of six runs, as Zobrist’s was a grand slam and Johnson’s was a two-run shot.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also didn’t like Baker’s pace, as he said he was taking too long to make his pitches. On a positive note, however, Baker said his elbow felt just fine.

The Twins also made some sloppy plays, as they failed to turn a double play in the fifth inning on a groundball hit by Jose Molina. Alexi Casilla should’ve come off the bag to make the turn, but instead jumped in the air and wasn’t able to make the throw.

Joe Benson was also doubled off second base on a line drive hit by Drew Butera in the seventh inning. Benson froze on the play, but should’ve retreated back to second because the Twins were already down 7-2 at that point.

Liam Hendriks allowed a two-run homer to Cody Rogers in the eighth. But otherwise, Hendriks pitched well over four innings.

What they said: “Not to get into the medical stuff too much, but [the doctors] said before that if my body gets worn down too much, I’m more vulnerable to having the symptoms reoccur,” Morneau said about why he’s been DHing so much this spring. “The chance of going backwards is when I get worn down. I can have the fogginess and the headaches, and all that stuff can return, if my system gets too worn down. Then I’m in a vulnerable position.”

What’s next: The Twins make the trek to Sarasota to face the Orioles on Tuesday with right-hander Anthony Swarzak scheduled to make his first start of the spring. Swarzak has only been used in relief so far, posting a 6.35 ERA in 5 2/3 innings. Swarzak, who is out of Minor League options, is being stretched out in case he’s used as a long reliever to start the season. Matt Capps, Glen Perkins and Matt Maloney are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins.

Injury update: Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) is scheduled to play in a Minor League game on Wednesday. He’s slated to run the bases on Tuesday. … Infielder Sean Burroughs left Monday’s game in the sixth inning with a forearm contusion after being hit by a pitch. He’s day to day. … Outfielder Josh Willingham was a late scratch with a tweaked right ankle. He’s also day to day.

Game 25: Twins lineup vs. Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins made one roster move this morning, reassigning right-hander Brendan Wise to Minor League camp.

Wise, 26, posted a 9.00 ERA over seven innings in six Grapefruit League games. The Australia native struck one, walked one and allowed two home runs.

The Twins now have 38 players in camp.

Right-hander Scott Baker starts for the Twins today to mark his first Grapefruit League start since March 6. It’ll be an important outing for Baker, who is battling elbow tendonitis and remains a candidate to start the season on the disabled list.

Baker is set to throw about 50 pitches today after throwing 23 pitches in a Minor League game on Thursday. The Twins are hopeful he’ll be able to make his scheduled start in the club’s home opener on April 9, but there’s still a chance he’ll be pushed back to April 15.

The Twins are also trotting out an interesting lineup, as Justin Morneau is at designated hitter yet again with Chris Parmelee getting the start at first. Josh Willingham is in left field with Ryan Doumit in right. Ben Revere, who appears headed to a fourth outfielder role, is on the bench.

There’s a chance this could even be the Opening Day lineup, but it’s worth remembering that Trevor Plouffe is currently out with a strained right hamstring.

Twins (13-11)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, RF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Chris Parmelee, 1B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Scott Baker

Twins pitchers: Liam Hendriks, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Jeff Gray, Jeff Manship

Rays (6-14)
1. Ben Zobrist, RF
2. Luke Scott, DH
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Jeff Keppinger, 2B
6. Jose Molina, C
7. Elliot Johnson, SS
8. Will Rhymes, LF
9. Jesus Felciano, CF

RHP Jeff Niemann

Game 23: Morneau, Hughes power Twins in rout

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins put on an offensive display in an 19-4 win over the Rays on Saturday at Hammond Stadium, as they had 18 hits, including five homers.

Justin Morneau hit two blasts while J.R. Towles, Luke Hughes and Chris Parmelee also homered.

What went right: Morneau was able to build on his double against the Yankees on Friday, as he homered twice off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Morneau went 2-for-2 with a walk to raise his batting average to .154 in 13 Grapefruit League games.

He hasn’t played first base since March 13, and there remains a chance he could start the season as the club’s designated hitter. He said after the game that he’s open to that possibility if it helps the team, but that he’d rather be the club’s starting first baseman.

Chris Parmelee continued to make his case to make the roster, as he made his first start in right field and homered. He’s now hitting .316 with three homers, a double and a triple in 14 games.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan wouldn’t rule out Parmelee breaking camp with the Twins, even though he’s yet to play at Triple-A. In that scenario, Parmelee would see action and first base and right field with Morneau mostly serving as DH.

Hughes also solidified his status on the roster, going 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs. He also played shortstop for the first time this spring.

Towles homered off Hellickson, and just missed another one in his next at-bat, hitting one off the left-field wall.

Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .333. Denard Span went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, Jamey Carroll went 3-for-4 and Josh Willingham went 1-for-3.

Left-hander Matt Maloney tossed two perfect innings with a strikeout to keep his ERA perfect at 0.00 this spring.

What went wrong: Not too much, but starter Jeff Gray did allow two runs on two hits, walk and a hit batter over two innings.

Gray started in place of right-hander Jason Marquis, who missed the start because he was home in New York attending to a family issue.

Closer Matt Capps allowed a run in his one inning of work, while right-hander Alex Burnett surrendered a run over two innings. Danny Valencia was the only Twins starter not to get a hit, but did walk twice and two score runs.

What they said: “It feels good,” Morneau said about his two homers. “It’d be nice to have it on Opening Day. It’s one of those things where you don’t necessarily need to hit home runs to know where you’re at. I think that ball that I hit to center yesterday that didn’t get out was as good a swing as any I’ve had all spring. And when you take a swing like that it kind of lets you know you’re getting close to where you want to be. Today was just a better day. It feels good and lets me know the hard work is starting to pay off.

What’s next: The Twins travel across the state to take on the Cardinals in Jupiter on Sunday with right-hander Nick Blackburn slated to make the start. Blackburn has been impressive this spring, as he’s yet to allow a run over seven innings in Grapefruit League play. Brian Duensing, Kyle Waldrop and Jared Burton are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Former Twins right-hander Kyle Lohse starts for St. Louis.

Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) threw a bullpen without any issues and is scheduled to start on Monday against the Rays. It will mark Baker’s first Grapefruit League start . … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) is likely to play in a Minor League game on Monday.

Game 23: Twins lineup vs. Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Jason Marquis is missing today’s scheduled start, as he’s back home in New York tending to a family issue.

The Twins haven’t officially announced a starter for the game, but based on the list posted in the clubhouse, closer Matt Capps appears to be the starter.

It’s also an interesting lineup, as Justin Morneau makes his seventh consecutive start at designated hitter with Joe Mauer at first base and Chris Parmelee in right field.

It marks Parmelee’s first start in right this spring, as he also played three innings there as a substitute yesterday. Parmelee does have some experience there, as he’s played right field 282 times in the Minors. For comparison, Parmelee has played first base 323 times in the Minors.

The Twins want to give Parmelee a long look considering his success as a September callup last year and his success so far this spring. He’s hitting .324/.395/.588 with two homers, one double and one triple in 13 Grapefruit League games.

So there remains a chance that Morneau starts the season as designated hitter, which would give Parmelee the opportunity to play first base while also seeing occasional time in right field. It’s still a bit unlikely at this point, but Parmelee starting in right field does add to the intrigue.

UPDATE: Right-hander Jeff Gray is starting today in Marquis’ absence.

Twins (12-10)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. J.R. Towles, C
9. Luke Hughes, 2B

Twins pitchers: Matt Capps, Casey Fien, Jeff Gray, Matt Maloney, Glen Perkins, Brendan Wise, Alex Burnett

Twins reserves: Rene Rivera, Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe, Ben Revere, Brian Dinkelman, Sean Burroughs, Joe Benson, Alexi Casilla

Game 21: Twins, Pavano struggle vs. Orioles

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins saw their five-game winning streak come to an end in an 11-1 loss to the Orioles on Thursday at Hammond Stadium.

Minnesota will look to get back on track when they travel north to face the Yankees on Friday at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

What went right: Not too much, as the Twins gave up 14 hits and had just five hits of their own.

Joe Mauer went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and is now hitting .313 this spring. Ben Revere and Michael Hollimon both doubled as well. Revere is hitting .343, while Hollimon is batting .500. Chris Parmelee went 1-for-2 and is hitting .333.

Left-hander Brian Duensing was the only Twins pitcher not to give up a run, as he tossed a scoreless fifth inning. He’s yet to allow a run in six innings this spring.

What went wrong: Right-hander Carl Pavano got a preview of the team he’s going to face on Opening Day, and got shelled.

Pavano allowed six runs on eight hits, including a homer, a triple and three doubles. His ERA now stands at 6.11 this spring.

Matt Capps served up a solo homer to Chris Davis in the sixth before Brendan Wise gave up a two-run homer to Trent Mummy in the eighth. Glen Perkins also struggled, giving up two runs on four hits in one inning of work.

Justin Morneau continued his struggles at the plate, going 0-for-3 to see his average tumble to .091 (3-for-33. But he did hit a hard liner to left in the fourth before lining out to third in the seventh.

What they said: “It really picked up today as you saw,” Gardenhire said when asked if things are expected start to pick up after Wednesday’s off-day. “Everybody really rose to the occasion. No. It was a dead day really. We played about six or seven good ballgames in a row or so, but today was really dead.”

What’s next: Left-hander Francisco Liriano is set to start against the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on Friday at 12:05 p.m. PT. Liriano has been excellent this spring, posting a 2.77 ERA with 18 strikeouts and two walks allowed over 13 innings pitched. Right-handers Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship and Jared Burton are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Right-hander Ivan Nova starts for New York.

Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) pitched two scoreless innings in a Minor League game. But he also threw just 23 pitches, and could end up on the disabled list to start the season. … Trevor Plouffe participated in a light workout, as he’s still battling a strained right hamstring.

Game 21: Twins make cuts, lineup vs. Orioles

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins made another round of cuts this morning, reassigning five players to Minor League camp.

The players sent to Minor League camp were right-hander Sam Deduno, left-hander Phil Dumatrait, catcher Danny Lehmann, infielder Ray Chang, and outfielder Matt Carson.

None of the moves were unexpected, as they were all non-roster invitees.

After returning Rule 5 pick Terry Doyle to the White Sox yesterday, the Twins now have 39 players in camp. The list includes 18 pitchers (three non-roster), five catchers (two non-roster), 10 infielders (four non-roster), and six outfielders (one non-roster).

Twins (12-8)
1. Ben Revere, LF
2. Brian Dozier, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Chris Parmelee, 1B
7. Sean Burroughs, 3B
8. Luke Hughes, 2B
9. Joe Benson, CF

RHP Carl Pavano

Twins pitchers: Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Kyle Waldrop, Brendan Wise

Orioles (6-8-4)
1. Xavier Avery, CF
2. Robert Andino, SS
3. Nick Johnson, DH
4. Nolan Reimold, LF
5. Wilson Betemit, 3B
6. Chris Davis, 1B
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Ryan Flaherty, RF
9. Matt Antonelli, 2B

LHP Wei-Yin Chen

Game 19: Benson, bullpen carry Twins to win

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joe Benson hit a go-ahead three-run double off the Green Monster, and the bullpen was solid yet again to help lead the Twins to an 8-4 win over the Red Sox on Monday at JetBlue Park.

Minnesota improved to 11-8 with the victory, which was their fourth in a row. They have an off-day on Tuesday before traveling to Lakeland to face the Tigers on Wednesday.

What went right: The Twins had 14 hits, including Benson’s pinch-hit three-run double off Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon in the sixth inning. He went 1-for-3 on the day and is hitting .308 this spring.

He’s certainly making a case to make the club, but it’s much more likely Trevor Plouffe gets the nod as the club’s fourth outfielder because he’s out of options and Benson needs to get regular at-bats at Triple-A.

Jamey Carroll showed signs he’s getting over his early slump, going 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .172 after entering Sunday’s game with a .043 average.

Joe Mauer also picked up his second extra-base hit of the spring with a double off the Green Monster in the first inning.

Ben Revere went 3-for-3, including a bunt single and a double, and is hitting .393 in Grapefruit League play. Danny Valencia also picked up two hits while Chris Parmelee, Ryan Doumit and Matt Carson doubled.

Relievers Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak each threw a scoreless inning. All are top candidates to make the bullpen out of camp.

What went wrong: Justin Morneau went 0-for-2 with a walk to see his batting average tumble to .100 this spring.

He has yet to collect an extra-base hit in 30 at-bats, but said he’s starting to get his timing back despite the fact it’s yet to show up in the results.

“It’s gotten better,” Morneau said. “It’s not where I want it to be yet. The swing’s getting better. The swing feels a lot better than it did when I first got down here. It’s a process, it’s moving along. I just have to keep telling myself that it’s slow, and just because it’s not here now doesn’t mean it’s not going to be here a week from now.”

Right-hander Jason Marquis wasn’t exactly sharp, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter over four-plus innings. But he also wasn’t helped out by Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla failing to turn two double plays early in the second inning.

Reliever Kyle Waldrop allowed his first run of the spring, as Peter Hissey doubled and Alex Hassan singled in the ninth inning. But to Waldrop’s credit, he bounced back after that, and the game wasn’t exactly close when he came in for the ninth.

What they said: “We had lots of nice swings,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I’m not sure how many hits we had but we had a bunch of them and some near misses. Guys are getting after it. Good to see Benson put a nice 0-2 swing on it.”

What’s next: The Twins have an off-day on Tuesday, but return to action on Wednesday with right-hander Liam Hendriks set to start against the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland. Hendriks has yet to allow a run in seven innings this spring. Left-hander Andy Oliver starts for Detroit.

Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) got through his 47-pitch bullpen without any issues. He’s scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on Thursdsay. … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe said his strained right hamstring is feeling better, and that he hopes return sometime this week. … Left-hander Phil Dumatrait is dealing with some tenderness in his left shoulder.