April 2012

Game 10: Morneau at first base, batting fifth

NEW YORK — Justin Morneau is making his first start of the season at first base tonight against the Yankees, and is also batting fifth for just the second time since 2007.

Twins manager Ron Garenhire approached Morneau before the game about batting fifth with Josh Willingham batting cleanup, and Morneau told him he was also ready to play first. So Gardenhire decided it was a good time to get Morneau at first, although they haven’t plotted when he’ll play first again.

“We’re just going to go day by day with it,” Gardenhire said. “It’s not going to be starting every day right now, do it and let him go back to DH. What I do like about it it gives me options to give Joe Mauer a day to DH and nothing in the field. Right now, he just goes and plays first base but it is still nine innings on defense the whole package.”

There was also plenty of other news today, including the fact that left-hander Glen Perkins stayed back in Minnesota with what general manager Terry Ryan called inflammation in his left forearm. Perkins is still day to day, and there remains a chance he’ll avoid the disabled list.

Right-hander Nick Blackburn will also miss his next start, as right-hander Anthony Swarzak will pitch in his place Thursday in New York. But Blackburn will throw bullpens on Friday and Sunday with the hope of returning on Tuesday.

Jason Marquis also threw a bullpen and said he’s ready to make his start on Wednesday against the Yankees. It’ll mark the first-ever start at Yankee Stadium for the veteran right-hander.

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

RHP Carl Pavano (1-0, 5.93 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 13 2/3 IP, 4 K, 2 BB)

Yankees (5-4)
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. Robinson Cano, 2B
5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Raul Ibanez, DH
8. Russell Martin, C
9. Brett Gardner, LF

RHP Freddy Garcia (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 6.98 FIP, 4 2/3 IP, 3 K, 3 BB)

Game 9: Blackburn’s MRI comes back normal

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins received good news today, as the MRI exam taken on right-hander Nick Blackburn’s right shoulder came back normal, general manager Terry Ryan said.

Blackburn left his start against the Rangers on Saturday after 5 1/3 innings due to stiffness in his right shoulder. His shoulder cramped up after a pitch to David Murphy, and he was removed from the game in the middle of the at-bat.

He had an MRI exam taken on his shoulder after the game as a precaution, but everything came fine, so there’s hope he could make his next start on Thursday in New York.

“He came in this morning and he feels OK,” Ryan said. “He’s a little stiff. We’re going to take this a day at a time here and see how he responds. All indications are he’s going to be OK. But we’re certainly going to be cautious. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Ryan also announced that right-hander Jason Marquis will make his first start of the season on Wednesday against the Yankees after making two starts with Double-A New Britain.

It helps give the Twins some flexibility with Blackburn, as right-hander Anthony Swarzak could start in New York if Blackburn’s not ready to go.

Rangers (7-2)
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Michael Young, DH
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. David Murphy, LF
8. Mike Napoli, 1B
9. Yorvit Torrealba, C

RHP Neftali Feliz (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 7 IP, 4 K, 2 BB)

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

RHP Liam Henriks (First start)

Twins claim Clete Thomas off waivers from Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins claimed outfielder Clete Thomas off waivers from the Tigers, the club announced today. To make room for Thomas on the 40-man roster, the Twins transferred right-hander Scott Baker to the 60-day disabled list.

Thomas is expected to join the Twins in time for tomorrow’s game against the Rangers at Target Field. The Twins need to make a corresponding roster move before adding him to the 25-man roster.

Thomas, 28, is a career .253 hitter with eight homers, 22 doubles, four triples and five stolen bases in 145 games with the Tigers. He appeared in three games with the Tigers this season but didn’t have any plate appearances before he was designated for assignment on April 12.

Thomas played with Triple-A Toledo last year, hitting .251 with 12 homers, 15 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 113 games. He’s a career .267 hitter with 41 homers, 125 doubles and 23 triples in 593 games in the Minors.

Thomas, who will wear No. 36, has seen time at all three outfield positions during his career.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck was the first to break the story.

Game 8: Twins get first look at Darvish

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins get the chance to face Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, who is one of the more intriguing players in baseball after leaving Japan to sign with Texas this offseason.

Darvish dominated while with the Nippon Ham Fighters, posting a career 1.99 ERA and winning two Pacific League MVP Awards. The Rangers paid a hefty price to bring him to the Majors, winning the rights to sign him to a six-year, $56 million deal with a posting fee of more than $51 million.

Darvish struggled in his first start of the year with the Mariners, allowing seven of the first eight batters he faced to reach before settling down. He still ended up surrendering five earned runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win.

The Twins still don’t know too much about Darvish, as they are basically only studying the tape from his start against Seattle, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. He added they aren’t watching much of the first inning either, as they want to see what adjustments he made after that rocky first frame.

But Gardenhire said he’s impressed by what he saw from Darvish, who reportedly throws six different types of pitches, and said he didn’t realize he’s 6-foot-5.

“He’s got all the pitches,” Gardenhire said. “He’s very athletic, has great stuff, and a great changeup. I saw his changeup just falling off the table. They said he was a little excited in his first start, but we know this guy’s a very good pitcher.”

Rangers (6-2)
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Adrian Beltre, DH
5. Michael Young, 3B
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. David Murphy, LF
8. Mike Napoli, C
9. Brandon Snyder, 1B

RHP Yu Darvish (1-0, 7.94 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 5 2/3 IP, 5 K, 4 BB)

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

RHP Nick Blackburn (0-1, 7.50 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 6 IP, 3 K, 2 BB)

Game 7: Twins open three-game series with Rangers

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Anthony Swarzak starts tonight against the Rangers, but it could be his last start before he heads back to the bullpen.

Right-hander Jason Marquis fared well in his start with Double-A New Britain last night, allowing two runs over eight innings, and appears set to the rejoin the rotation next week in New York.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire still hasn’t announced when Marquis will make his start with the Twins, but it sounds like he’ll be slotted in on Wednesday after Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano start the first two games of the series against the Yankees.

Right-hander Liam Hendriks also makes his first start on Sunday after his bout with food poisoning, and is expected to stay in the rotation after that outing.

The Twins also stacked their righties in today’s lineup with left-hander Matt Harrison on the mound, as Luke Hughes gets the start at second base and Trevor Plouffe starts in right field. Joe Mauer is at first base to allow switch-hitter Ryan Doumit to catch.

Also, the Twins set the date for Scott Baker’s elbow surgery, as it will be on Tuesday in New York. Dr. David Altchek will perform the operation, and the rehab takes about six months.

Rangers (5-2)
TBA

LHP Matt Harrison (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Twins (2-4)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, C
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Trevor Plouffe, RF
9. Luke Hughes, 2B

RHP Anthony Swarzak (0-1, 1.80 ERA)

Game 6: Mauer catching day game after night game

MINNEAPOLIS — After catching in last night’s 6-5 win over the Angels, Joe Mauer is back behind the plate today with left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked before the game how Mauer felt, and he promptly said that he made the decision without consulting Mauer.

“I didn’t ask,” Gardenhire said with a smile.

Gardenhire also kept Chris Parmelee in at first base and moved him up a few spots behind Josh Willingham. Ben Revere also gets a start in right field.

In other news, Gardenhire also said that right-hander Anthony Swarzak will start against the Rangers on Friday, and that fellow right-hander Liam Hendriks will start Sunday. Right-hander Jason Marquis starts with Double-A New Britain today, and should rejoin the rotation some time next week.

Reliever Kyle Waldrop, on the disabled list with an elbow strain, threw from 120 feet this morning, and is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Sunday.

Angels (2-3)
1. Maicer Izturis, SS
2. Howard Kendrick, 2B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Torii Hunter, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, DH
6. Vernon Wells, LF
7. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
8. Bobby Wilson, C
9. Peter Bourjos, CF

RHP Dan Haren (1-0, 8.44 ERA)

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

LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1, 11.25 ERA)

Game 5: Baker out for season

MINNEAPOLIS — Just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse for the Twins in the early going, the club announced right-hander Scott Baker will undergo surgery to repair the flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow and will miss the remainder of the season.

It’s obviously a huge blow to the rotation, and more details can be found in the full story from today.

In other news, the Twins are still searching for their first win of the season, and it’s not getting any easier, as they face Angels ace Jered Weaver today.

The Twins have never started a season with five straight losses, so we’ll see if this club can avoid that fate.

Angels (2-2)
1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Howard Kendrick, 2B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Kendrys Morales, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Vernon Wells, LD
7. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
8. Chris Iannetta, C
9. Peter Bourjos, CF

RHP Jered Weaver (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Twins (0-4)
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 Parmlee, 1B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Carl Pavano (0-1, 5.14 ERA)

Game 4: Home opener at Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS — After a three-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles, it’s not getting any easier for the Twins, who host the Angels in their home opener today at Target Field.

The Angels will have both of their prized offseason signings on the field today, as Albert Pujols is starting at first base and batting third, while left-hander C.J. Wilson is making his first start of the year.

Former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter is also in the lineup for the Angels on the day the Twins are celebrating the 2002 club that advanced to the ALCS before ultimately falling to the Angels in five games.

The Twins are also trying to stack their right-handed bats against Wilson, as Danny Valencia returns to the lineup at third base and Trevor Plouffe gets his first start in right field. The Twins are also going with Ryan Doumit at catcher because he’s a switch-hitter, which gives Joe Mauer his second straight start at first base.

Right-hander Liam Hendriks is also scheduled to fly back from Baltimore today after spending most of the weekend in the hospital with food poisoning. Reliever Kyle Waldrop, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow strain, also played catch from 60 feet for the first time today.

Angels (1-2)
1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Howard Kendrick, 2B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Kendrys Morales, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Bobby Abreu, LF
7. Alberto Callaspo
8. Chris Iannetta, C
9. Peter Bourjos, CF

LHP C.J. Wilson

Twins (0-3)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, C
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Trevor Plouffe, RF
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Nick Blackburn

Opening Day at Target Field

Opening Day at Target Field

Photos from Oriole Park at Camden Yards

BALTIMORE — The Orioles celebrated the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards over the weekend, and I have to say I came impressed by my first visit to the ballpark.

It’s amazing to think that it’s 20 years old, as it still seems new and ranks as one of my favorite parks I’ve been to along with AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Dodger Stadium (sentimental reasons) and, of course, Target Field.

I made sure to take plenty of photos with my iPhone, so I thought I’d share them. I’m certainly not a pro photographer, but there they are:

Game 3: Gardenhire shakes up bottom of order

BALTIMORE — The Twins generally like to give everyone on their roster an opportunity to get playing time early in the season, and so there are two new faces in today’s lineup against the Orioles.

Sean Burroughs is getting the start at third base over Danny Valencia, while Luke Hughes, who is coming off a huge spring, gets the start at second instead of Alexi Casilla.

Joe Mauer is also getting his first start at first base, as Ryan Doumit is set to catch right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak, who posted a 4.32 ERA in 102 innings last year, is starting with Liam Hendriks out with food poisoning.

We’ll find out more about the decision to start Burroughs and Hughes from Ron Gardenhire later this morning.

Update: Gardenhire said the moves were done simply to get Burroughs and Hughes some playing time. He did say Valencia is continuing to work on his defense, but that wasn’t the reason why Burroughs made the start at third. Hughes also could get starts against lefties moving forward. Trevor Plouffe should be in the starting lineup tomorrow with Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson on the mound.

Twins (0-2)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Ryan Doumit, C
7. Sean Burroughs, 3B
8. Luke Hughes, 2B
9. Ben Revere, RF

RHP Anthony Swarzak

Orioles (2-0)
1. Endy Chavez, LF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Adam Jones, CF
5. Matt Wieters, C
6. Nick Johnson, DH
7. Wilson Betemit, 3B
8. Chris Davis, 1B
9. Robert Andino, 2B

RHP Jason Hammel

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