March 2012

Game 4: Twins lineup vs. Red Sox in night game

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins host the Red Sox tonight in the first and only night game at Hammond Stadium this spring.

It’s also the first game televised in the Twin Cities, as it will be broadcast live on Fox Sports North Plus. Here’s the link to where to find that channel. And for those who subscribe to MLB.TV, you can watch the game there as well. It’s also on the radio on the Twins Radio Network and streaming on MLB.com.

It will be worth following, as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit return to the lineup tonight after taking the day off yesterday.

But Doumit is in a unfamiliar place, considering he’s making his first ever start in left field. He’s played 60 games in right field as a Major Leaguer and five games there as a Minor Leaguer, but never in left.

Luke Hughes (strained right shoulder) is also back in the lineup as DH after going 0-for-3 there yesterday with a deep line drive to center against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park. He’s hoping to make his first start in the field later this week.

It’s also a good chance to see Brian Dozier — the club’s Minor League Player of the Year — in action at shortstop. Former Twins Nick Punto and Jason Repko are also in the lineup for the Red Sox.

Other notes:

– Ray Chang was back taking infield after taking a knee to the jaw in yesterday’s game against the Red Sox. He said he dealt with some spasms with his jaw last night but felt OK today.

– First-base coach Jerry White is in the hospital overnight to get checked out for stomach and chest tightness.

– Former Twins first baseman Don Mincher passed away last night.

Twins (2-1)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Ryan Doumit, LF
7. Luke Hughes, DH
8. Brian Dozier, SS
9. Michael Hollimon, 3B

Twins reserves: Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, Brian Dinkelman, Trevor Plouffe, Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni and Aaron Bates.

Twins pitchers: Jason Marquis, Jeff Manship, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise, Deolis Guerra, Liam Hendriks

Red Sox (1-0)

1. Jose Iglesias, SS
2. Ryan Sweeney, RF
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. David Ortiz, 1B
5. Darnell McDonald, DH
6. Josh Kroeger, LF,
7. Kelly Shoppach, C
8. Nick Punto, 2B
9. Jason Repko, CF

RHP Clay Buchholz

Games 2/3: Twins earn split vs. Rays, Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins split Sunday’s games with a 5-3 win over the Rays in Port Charlotte and an 8-3 loss to the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

It marked the Twins’ first split-squad action of the spring, as they don’t play in any more split-squads until March 16, when they host the Orioles and travel to face the Red Sox.

What went right: Both starters for the Twins — Francisco Liriano and Terry Doyle — tossed two scoreless innings in their Grapefruit League debuts. Liriano allowed one hit and walked one with two strikeouts against the Red Sox. And Doyle didn’t allow a hit and walked one with a strikeout against the Rays.

First baseman Chris Parmelee and catcher J.R. Towles both hit two-run homers to help lead the Twins to their win over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Alexi Casilla went 3-for-5 and Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 in that game.

Ben Revere paced the offense at JetBlue Park, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a leadoff single against Josh Beckett. Ray Chang went 1-for-1 with two walks, but left the 8-3 loss early after taking a knee the jaw in the seventh inning while trying to break up a double play.

What went wrong: Jason Bulger, who is trying to make the club as a reliever, struggled mightily against the Red Sox, allowing five runs on four walks and two hits — including a Lars Anderson grand slam — while recording just one out.

The Twins made several sloppy plays against the Red Sox, including an error by third baseman Sean Burroughs and an ill-advised throw home on the same play by Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Revere also made a baserunning gaffe late in the game.

What they said: “The first batter I was kind of all over the place but after that I kind of made some adjustments,” said Liriano, who threw 13 of his 25 pitches for strikes. “I was throwing the ball down and working the fastball better.”

What’s next: The Twins play their first and only night game of the spring on Monday, as they play host to the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium at 6:05 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised on FS North. Right-hander Jason Marquis is set to make his Grapefruit League debut with the Twins against Red Sox right-hander Clay Buhholz. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham — who didn’t play on Sunday — are expected to return to action Monday night.

Injury update: Right-hander Joel Zumaya elected to undergo Tommy John surgery later this month, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony. He hasn’t decided if he will rehab on his own or with the Twins. … Infielder Luke Hughes (strained right shoulder) made his Grapefruit League debut against the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 as a designated hitter. He also took infield practice and threw to first base without any issues. … Infielder Ray Chang took a knee to the jaw trying to break up a double play, but said after the game he was OK.

Zumaya elects to have Tommy John surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Joel Zumaya informed the Twins he will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow at the end of the month, assistant general manager Rob Antony said today.

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, was debating whether to have the surgery and attempt another comeback or retire, but ultimately decided to go with the operation with Dr. James Andrews. But Zumaya has yet to decide if he’ll rehab with the Twins or on his own.

“We haven’t figured all that out yet,” Antony said. “We just talked to his agent last night. He just called me and said that after thinking about it that he’d like to see Dr. Andrews and he’d like to have the surgery at the end of March. I spoke with [head trainer] Rick McWane this morning and he’s going to set it up with Dr. Andrews tomorrow.”

Zumaya has been plagued by injuries since his rookie season with the Tigers in ’06, as he has missed time with a finger injury that forced him to miss 96 games in 2007, a shoulder injury in 2008 that cost him 72 games and another shoulder injury in ’08 that caused him to miss 41 games before undergoing shoulder surgery in ’09.

This 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 all of last season.

As of now, Zumaya is still on the club’s 40-man roster. The Twins have until Opening Day to decide to release him or place him on the 60-day disabled list. He’s 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.

“We haven’t done anything with the roster spot,” Antony said. “We don’t have to do anything until Opening Day. In fact, you can’t place a player on the 60-day DL in less you’re making a corresponding move and need that roster spot. The only way he’d be a free agent immediately is if we release him but we haven’t discussed that yet.”

Either way, Antony said the Twins are on the hook for the surgery and rehab.

“We’re responsible for it,” Antony said. “He got hurt pitching for us so we’ll take care of all the medical expenses and rehab and everything.”

Bobby Valentine on Nishioka

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had some interesting things to say about infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka today.

Valentine was Nishioka’s manager in Japan for six years (2004-09) with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Here’s what he had to say about Nishioka, who struggled in his first season with the Twins last year, as he played in just 68 games because of injuries, including a broken left leg suffered on April 7 when Nick Swisher tried to break up a double play at second base:

“You know, I had him as a baby in Japan. I had him where he was one of the worst players on the field and had him when he was one of the best players on the field. And sometimes it was in the same season.

“I came to Fort Myers last year to have dinner with him, to tell him they were going to try and break his leg and show him how to try and get out of the way, because he didn’t do that in Japan when he played second base for me his first year. I actually got up and showed him where he had to be on that double play because in Japan you don’t have to worry about the inside side slide, only the outside slide. A guy comes inside and rolls he had to be out of the way and he gave me the old – as he did as a player for me – yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand. I understand. I understand. And he broke his leg.”

Games 2/3: Split-squad lineups for the Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins have their first split-squad action of Spring Training today with half the club going to Port Charlotte to face the Rays and the other half staying in Fort Myers to play the Red Sox.

Among position players, only Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit are staying back today. And the pitchers who threw yesterday — Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett, Matt Maloney and Anthony Swarzak — will stay back for light throwing sessions.

I’m at JetBlue Park today to cover the Twins against the Red Sox, as Ron Gardenhire is at the game to watch left-hander Francisco Liriano in his first outing of the spring. Luke Hughes (right shoulder strain) is also set to make his debut as designated hitter after being cleared by team doctors.

And I have to say that JetBlue Park is a pretty amazing place. The playing field is essentially a replica of Fenway Park right down to the dimensions, the Green Monster and Pesky Pole. I’ve been to most of the new Spring Training parks such as Camelback Ranch and Salt River Fields in Arizona, but this one might just be the coolest one I’ve seen yet.

I took a few pictures on the way in, so I’ll post them here. But I’m hoping to get some better shots once the weather gets better. So be on the lookout for more photos on the blog later today.

Twins lineup vs. Red Sox:

1. Ben Revere, LF
2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
3. Rene Tosoni, RF
4. Aaron Bates, 1B
5. Luke Hughes, DH
6. Sean Burroughs, 3B
7. Ray Chang, 2B
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Darin Mastroianni, CF

LHP Francisco Liriano

Twins reserves: Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann, Michael Hollimon, Wilkin Ramirez, Danny Rams

Twins pitchers: Jared Burton, Esmerling Vasquez, Phil Dumatrait, Daryl Thompson, Jason Bulger, Kyle Waldrop and Liam Hendriks.

Twins lineup vs. Rays:

1. Alexi Casilla, 2B
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Trevor Plouffe, LF
4. Chris Parmelee, 1B
5. Danny Valencia, 3B
6. Brian Dinkelman, RF
7. Steve Pearce, DH
8. Drew Butera, C
9. Joe Benson, CF

RHP Terry Doyle

Twins reserves: Dan Rohlfing, J.R. Towles, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Oswaldo Arcia, Matt Carson

Twins pitchers: Scott Diamond, Luis Perdomo, Aaron Thompson, Lester Oliveros, P.J. Walters, Casey Fien.

Game 1: Span, Mauer, Morneau lead Twins to win

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins opened up Grapefruit League action with a 7-3 win over the Rays at Hammond Stadium.

It was a big day for Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who combined to go 4-for-8 with two RBIs. But more importantly, all three have been healthy so far in camp, and got through the first game without any issues.

What went right: Mauer picked up his first RBI of the spring with a sharp single up the middle off Rays right-hander Jhonny Nunez to score Alexi Casilla.

Span looked good at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two singles, and made two acrobatic catches in the outfield, even though he fell down on both plays.

And Morneau added an RBI on an opposite-field single with the shift on and two outs in the fifth inning.

Danny Valencia also showed some opposite-field power with a double to the warning track in right field in the fourth. A few reserves also fared well, as Michael Hollimon plated the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the sixth. Joe Benson also added a sacrifice fly and Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.

Left-hander Brian Duensing was impressive, getting out of a one-out jam in the third inning after a triple by B.J. Upton before tossing a scoreless fourth frame. Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett and Matt Maloney each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.

What went wrong: Not much, but right-hander Carl Pavano did give up a two-run homer to Matt Joyce with two outs in the first inning after falling behind 3-1 in the count. Pavano settled down to allow two runs on three hits over two innings with a strikeout.

Jamey Carroll was also hit in the helmet by a pitch from David Price in the first inning, but said the ball only grazed his helmet and was OK.

What they said: “I’ll take it,” Morneau said about his RBI single. “I’ll definitely take it. Runner on third, the third baseman has to be over, gives you a lot of room. I’ll take it. Not a bad start to the first day.”

What’s next: The Twins have split-squad action on Sunday, as left-hander Francisco Liriano is slated to start against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park and right-hander Terry Doyle is scheduled to pitch against the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. It was a last minute switch by the Twins because the club didn’t want Liriano to start against the Rays in back-to-back starts, according to pitching coach Rick Anderson. Anderson will be on hand to watch Liriano pitch against the Red Sox, while manager Ron Gardenhire will travel to Port Charlotte. Only Mauer, Morneau, Span and Josh Willingham won’t play tomorrow.

Injury update: Infielder Luke Hughes is expected to make his debut tomorrow as a designated hitter against the Red Sox. Hughes, who is recovering from a strained right shoulder, took batting practice for the first time yesterday.

Photos from today:

Game 1: Twins and Rays lineups

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The wait is over. Spring Training is officially here.

The Twins open Grapefruit League play today against the Rays at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium. The game is not on TV, and will be on tape delay on the radio on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities because of the University of Minnesota basketball game.

But you can also follow it live on MLB.com’s Gameday and listen to the live radio broadcast there as well.

If not, you can follow me on Twitter @RhettBollinger, where I’ll be providing updates throughout the day.

And without further ado, here are the lineups for both teams:

Twins lineup:
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Caroll, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Trevor Plouffe, LF
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Carl Pavano

Twins reserves: Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dinkelman and Rene Tosoni

Twins pitchers: Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Matt Capps, Alex Burnett, Anthony Swarzak, Phil Dumatrait and Matt Maloney.

Rays lineup:
1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. B.J. Upton, CF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Matt Joyce, RF
5. Jose Molina, C
6. Jose Lobaton, DH
7. Juan Miranda, 1B
8. Elliott Johnson, 3B
9. Reid Brignac, SS

LHP David Price

Day 13: Grapefruit League play starts tomorrow

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After 13 days of workouts, the Twins are scheduled to open Grapefruit League play against the Rays tomorrow at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium.

The big news is that catcher Joe Mauer, first baseman Justin Morneau and center fielder Denard Span will be in the lineup against Tampa Bay’s David Price.

They’ll be batting in their usual spots in the order — first, third and fourth, respectively — and will be joined by by shortstop Jamey Carroll, right fielder Josh Willingham, designated hitter Ryan Doumit, third baseman Danny Valencia, left fielder Trevor Plouffe and second baseman Alexi Casilla in that order.

Ben Revere will start off on the bench with Price, a left-hander, on the mound, but will definitely see some action in the game. Others expected to play include Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dinkelman and Rene Tosoni.

Right-hander Carl Pavano will start for the Twins with several other pitchers on the list to throw, such as Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Matt Capps, Alex Burnett, Anthony Swarzak, Phil Dumatrait and Matt Maloney.

The Twins are happy with the way camp has gone so far, especially considering Mauer, Morneau and Span have been healthy and have participated in every workout without any issues. The only real setback was right-hander Joel Zumaya tearing his ulnar collateral ligament last weekend.

But for the most part, Twins general manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire are pleased with what they’ve seen so far, and are excited for Grapefruit League play to begin.

“It’s always good to get the games started,” Ryan said. “We’ve been here three extra days this year, so it’s been a little different for us. But now it’s time to get out there and see how we start competing against other clubs.”

Said Gardenhire: “These guys are working their tails off. We’ve got a couple of new people that are pretty fun to watch, so it ought to be interesting. I’m like everybody else, I can’t wait to see what happens.”

Other notes from today:

- Span, who crashed headfirst into the center-field fence yesterday, reported no problems today: “I was curious to see how I’d feel this morning but when I woke up this morning my head and my neck felt fine,” Span said. “Just my back was a little sore. So it was a lot better than I was expecting. It was a big relief. It showed me how far I’ve come this offseason.”

- Infielder Luke Hughes took batting practice and threw from 120 feet for the first time since suffering a sprained right shoulder in his native Australia in early February. He said everything went fine and he’s hoping to DH in a game on Sunday.

- The Twins offered various opinions about Major League Baseball adopting an expanded postseason format with the addition of a second Wild Card with the two Wild Cards playing in a one-game playoff to advance to the Division Series. In short, Ryan and Span were totally in favor of it, while Gardenhire thinks it’s unfair that it’s just a one-game game after a grueling 162-game season. Look for more details in today’s notebook at Twinsbaseball.com, which should also include video of Span giving his opinion on the subject.

Photos from today:

Day 11: Twins hold simulated game, “B” game

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a busy day at the Lee County Sports Complex, as the Twins held their first simulated game of the spring this morning before hosting the Red Sox in a “B” game at Hammond Stadium.

In the simulated game, right-handers Jason Marquis and Jeff Gray each pitched, while hitters such as Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee and Alexi Casilla batted with different scenarios laid out for the defense.

It allowed Twins defenders to work on relay throws, positioning and decision-making while also allowing the hitters to face live pitching.

The big scare was Denard Span running into the center-field fence, but he said he was OK. But I’ll definitely check with him tomorrow to make sure he’s still doing OK.

As for the “B” game, the Twins picked up their first victory with a 6-5 win over the Red Sox.

Twins right-handers Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn got through without any issues, and were followed by Jeff Manship, Liam Hendriks, Jason Bulger, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise and Deolis Guerra. Of the group, only Gutierrez really struggled, allowing two runs on hit and three walks while only recording two outs.

Offensively, the Twins were paced by first baseman Aaron Bates, who hit a two-run homer, and designated hitter Brian Dinkelman, who had two hits and two RBIs. Shortstop Brian Dozier also had two hits, while J.R. Towles and Joe Benson added RBI singles.

But the Twins no longer are playing for the Mayor’s Cup, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, now that the Red Sox moved into the new JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. The Cup used to be a battle between the Red Sox, representing the city, and the Twins, representing the county, but they now both play in unincorporated Lee County.

“There is no more Mayor’s Cup,” Gardenhire said. “We took the Cup; we got the Cup. The Cup’s in somebody’s cabin now, in Minnesota.”

Other notes:

- Gardenhire said Carl Pavano will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. CT. The Twins also have split-squad action on Sunday with left-hander Francisco Liriano scheduled to start against the Rays in Port Charlotte at 12:05 p.m. CT and right-hander Terry Doyle slated to pitch against the Red Sox at their new park in Fort Myers at 12:35 p.m. CT.

- Gardenhire said he’ll announce his lineups for Saturday’s game tomorrow morning. Morneau, Mauer and Span are all expected to play, but all said they have yet to be notified if they’ll be in the lineup.

- Scott Baker joked about third-base coach Steve Liddle being forced to be the home-plate umpire early in the “B” game: “I thought maybe the umpire was squeezing me a little bit,” Baker said with a grin. “We’ll work through it.”

Here’s video of Plouffe hitting a double against Marquis in today’s simulated game.

And photos from today:

Span collides with fence, says he’s OK

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins center fielder Denard Span crashed into the chain-link fence in center field trying to rob Trevor Plouffe of a home run during a simulated game on one of the club’s practice fields today.

Span, though, said he felt OK after the running into the fence and only suffered a cut lip. He continued to play center field after the collision and took batting practice without any issues.

“I was kind of drifting towards the ball but I had no idea the fence was that close,” Span said. “I went to reach up and catch the ball, felt like I had the ball in my glove, soon as I reached up to catch the ball, my face smacked right up against the fence. So I had a little bit of a busted lip.”

Span, who dealt with concussion-like symptoms last year after sustaining a concussion in a home-plate collision on June 3, said the collision didn’t retrigger any immediate symptoms.

He also said that everything has been going great so far in camp, as he’s participated in workouts every day without any issues.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good,” Span said. “I mean, this is probably the most I’ve done, even in the offseason; you work out four or five times a week and you’ve got the weekend to kind of relax a little bit. So this is the first two weeks in a row that I’ve done every day. I’ve felt better on certain days; I haven’t felt the same every day. But overall I’ve been able to participate in everything and go through every drill.”

Span said the only thing he’s been battling is fatigue, as he cut caffeine out of his diet and has been taking daily naps after practice. But he said he’s planning on drinking caffeine again soon after he consults with his doctor.

He added that he plans on playing in Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Rays but hadn’t heard any official word from manager Ron Gardenhire.

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