June 2012

Twins sign Ryan Doumit to two-year extension

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins signed catcher Ryan Doumit to a two-year extension through the 2014 season, the club announced today. The extension is worth $7 million, as Doumit will make $3.5 million in ’13 and ’14.

Doumit, who joined the Twins this season on a one-year deal worth $3 million after playing seven seasons with the Pirates, said he was excited to remain in Minnesota for the next two years.

“I knew I wanted to essentially Day 1,” Doumit said. “The last couple days it was brought to my attention they were interested in bringing me back, which was very flattering obviously. The feeling was mutual. I called my agent. I said ‘Let’s get something done.’ I love being here. It’s a great situation for me. It’s a great clubhouse. There’s a great group of guys here. I’m excited to be here. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re gonna right this ship and I’m glad to know I’ll be aboard when we do.”

Doumit, 31, is hitting .271 with a .332 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage in 59 games. He also has seven homers and 32 RBIs in 203 at-bats.

He’s seen action at catcher, in right field and as a designated hitter this year. He also played three innings at first base.

“My goal is going to be similar to what it is now,” Doumit said. “Catching a bit here and there, DH a couple here and there and outfield is always an option for me. So I’ll bring my 19 gloves with me and keep working whenever I can get in the lineup.”

Doumit is a career .271/.334/.442 hitter with 74 homers and 298 RBIs in 670 games.

Twins Minor Leaguer Paul Bargas passes away

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins Minor League pitcher Paul Bargas passed away Tuesday night after battling a rare form of brain cancer. He was 23.

Bargas, who was acquired by the Twins in a trade with the Rockies before the 2011 season, began experiencing headaches that offseason but still reported to Fort Myers, Fla. for Spring Training in March. But he complained of severe headaches and disorientation upon his arrival and was eventually diagnosed with Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma.

He battled the disease for more than a year, as he went through chemotherapy at UCLA Medical Center in California.

“He’s battled this thing off and on,” assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “He’s had some setbacks. I got a message from our scout John Leavitt on Monday that he had taken a turn for the worse. And I got the news last night he had passed away.

“But when we were in Anaheim on the last trip [in early May] John Leavitt, who did a great job keeping in touch with Paul and his family, and I went to UCLA Medical Center to see Paul. He hadn’t eaten in a few days but when we saw him he was in really good spirits. We were there for two hours. Every time we got up he kept saying, ‘I’m all right, I’m all right.”

Antony added that even though Bargas never threw a pitch for the Twins organization, he was still a part of the Twins family.

“The thing he talked about the most was, ‘I can’t believe you guys traded for me and I never played a game for you guys but you treat me like family,’” Antony said. “And I said, “You are the minute we draft you or trade for you.’ He was an unbelievable person. I’m serious. There was a never a ‘Why me?’ in him.”

A native of Perris, Calif., Bargas is survived by his wife, Victoria. The Twins will announce funeral arrangements once they become available.

Duensing to start Saturday against Reds

PITTSBURGH — Left-hander Brian Duensing will make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Reds, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced today.

With Monday’s off-day, the Twins went with a four-man rotation but needed a fifth starter against the Reds with right-handers Carl Pavano and P.J. Walters on the disabled list.

The Twins decided to go with Duensing, who has a 3.12 ERA with 22 strikeouts and nine walks in 34 2/3 innings as a reliever. He last pitched on Tuesday against the Pirates, when he tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

Duensing, who threw a bullpen before Thursday’s game, is expected to be restricted to about 50-60 pitches because he hasn’t had the chance to build up his pitch count yet.

“We decided to let him stretch out a little bit and piggyback him with a couple other guys and see what happens, how many innings he goes,” Gardenhire said. “They got some pretty good left-handed hitters in that lineup, so you try a lefty over there too.”

Part of the reason the Twins went with Duensing is because two of the top Reds hitters — Joey Votto and Jay Bruce — are left-handed. But Duensing has also improved against right-handers this season, as they posted a .947 OPS against him last year but have a .645 OPS against him this year.

Duensing, though, said he’s not sure why he’s been so much better against right-handed hitters this season.

“I don’t know,” Duensing said. “Maybe I’m making some better pitches. When I’ve gone in I’ve gone down and in instead of up and in. I’ve been throwing strikes in there and they have to be aware of that instead of disregarding that and look middle away. So that’s been the issue too. And I’ve had some good luck on top of it, too.”

Duensing, who has made 50 career starts including 28 last year, said he’s hoping his return to the rotation is similar to both ’09 and ’10, when he joined the rotation to much success after starting out in the bullpen. He posted a 2.73 ERA in nine starts in ’09, and had a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts in ’10.

“If I could throw like that it’d be great,” Duensing said. “I’m really hoping that will happen. I don’t know. But hopefully I’ll go out there and do well and give the team a chance to win and not hurt the bullpen too bad.”

Capps out until at least Tuesday with sore shoulder

MINNEAPOLIS — Closer Matt Capps felt some soreness in his right shoulder on Saturday and is expected to be out until Tuesday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday.

Capps gave up a two-run homer in Minnesota’s 5-3 loss to Milwaukee on Friday.

“It’s just a sore shoulder after the game where he gave up the home run,” Gardenhire said. “He came in the next morning and he was pretty sore, so we backed him off, checked him out, everything looked good. Just a little inflammation in there. He’s doing all of his exercises and he should be ready to go Tuesday.”

Right-hander Jared Burton and left-hander Glen Perkins are expected to handle closer duties until Capps returns.

Capps has a 3.55 ERA in 26 appearances with 14 saves in 15 opportunities this season.

Buxton takes batting practice at Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS — Outfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall selection the First-Year Player Draft, was at Target Field on Tuesday, as he underwent a physical and took batting practice before the Twins’ game against the Phillies.

According to sources close to the negotiations, the Twins have reached an agreement with Buxton and an official announcement is expected to come on Wednesday. It is still unknown, however, if Buxton will sign at or below Major League Baseball’s recommended slot bonus of $6.2 million.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that nothing is official yet, but added he was happy to have Buxton around to meet Twins players, coaches and executives before Tuesday’s game. Buxton, who was joined by his family, his agent, Al Goetz, and Twins scout, Jack Powell, also took batting practice with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit.

“We brought him in to expose him to our Major League coaches and our manager and our players,” Ryan said. “I thought he did quite well out there for a young guy that came up here, 18 years old, not been around the type of caliber that these guys are. I’m proud of that. It was good to see. We didn’t want to see balls going up in the cage and so forth. We wanted to see them go out, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Buxton — using a bat given to him by Mauer — sprayed the ball over the field and hit one homer into the bullpen in left-center field. Buxton said it was especially cool to get the bat from Mauer and to get his own personalized Twins jersey with his name and No. 1 on the back of it.

“It was great,” Buxton said. “I wasn’t nervous. I was just being myself and relaxed and I stayed calm.”

The five-tool outfielder batted. 513 with three homers, 17 doubles and 35 RBIs in his senior season at Appling County High School (Ga.). He also went 10-0 with 154 strikeouts over 81 innings as a pitcher, including an 18-strikeout performance to clinch his high school’s first state title.

He’s expected to begin his professional career in the Gulf Coast League with the chance to move up to Rookie-level Elizabethton (Tenn.) by the end of the season.

“I’m very excited,” Buxton said. “I’m ready to start playing.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire liked what he saw from Buxton, as he had the chance to meet him for the first time and watch him run around and take batting practice.

“I just told him to enjoy it — ‘Congratulations, enjoy the heck out of this. Be yourself and let your ability take over and go have some fun’” Gardenhire said. “He’s a nice-looking young man. We’ll see how he does when he gets down to the Minor Leagues, but he looks like he’s got a lot of tools. He looks like he’s a talented young man, which he must be or we wouldn’t have drafted him with the second pick.”

Click here for a link to see Buxton take practice at Target Field.

And here are some photos I took of Buxton:

Twins sign draftees Melotakis, Jones

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins signed second-round pick Mason Melotakis and fourth-round pick Zack Jones, the club announced tonight.

The terms of the contracts were not announced but the pre-draft value of Melotakis’ No. 63 slot was $818,500 and the value of Jones’ No. 130 slot was $356,700.

Melotakis, a 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher, and Jones, a 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher, will both start their professional careers with the Rookie League Elizabethton (Tenn.) Twins after spending a week training at the club’s Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

Melotakis posted a 3.63 ERA for Northwestern State (La.) with 70 strikeouts in 63 innings as a junior this season.

“I’m very excited,” Melotakis said. “I was just ready to get going. Our season ended earlier than I expected. I was getting restless. I don’t like to just sit. So now I’m just ready to get going. I wanted to sign early to get into the system as early as I can.”

Jones, meanwhile, had a 4.50 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 54 innings as a junior at San Jose State University

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Jones said. “When you’re waiting for it sometimes it feels like it’s taking forever but for it to be actually here is surreal.”

Twins take pitchers Melotakis, Chargois to open second round

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins finished day one of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft by selecting two pitchers. They opened day two by selecting two more on Tuesday.

Minnesota took left-hander Mason Melotakis from Northwestern State with the third pick in the second round (No. 63 overall), then took Rice right-hander J.T. Chargois with the 72nd pick.

Melotakis, a junior, served primarily as a reliever for the Demons. The 6-3, 190-pounder throws a fastball in the 94-95 mph range, topping out around 97.

“I think he’s a reliever,” MLB.com draft analyst Jonathan Mayo said. “I don’t know if you send a guy like that out to start from the get-go. But with that kind of velocity from the left side, you shorten him up, maybe he’s a lefty set-up guy. The command may not be there to close, but that’s some good power stuff for the back end of the bullpen.”

The Houston native recorded a 3.63 ERA for Northwestern State this season, striking out 70 in 62 innings. Melotakis also pitched for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League this past summer. He appeared in 14 games and went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

Chargois started all 63 of Rice’s games in 2011 at first base before switching to full-time pitcher this past season. He collected a 2.15 ERA in 37 2/3 innings and converted eight saves.

Third Round

After selecting four straight pitchers, Minnesota took Jacksonville University right fielder Adam Walker II with the 97th overall pick. Walker, the 2011 A-Sun Conference Player of the Year, is a 6-4, 225-pound right-handed hitter with as much raw power as anyone in this draft class. He hit 12 home runs this past year for the Dolphins with a .426 on-base percentage.

Walker’s father Adam played running back for the Minnesota Vikings in 1987.

Fourth Round

The Twins used the fourth round’s second pick (No. 130 overall) to select Zack Jones, a right-handed pitcher from San Jose State. He struck out a team-high 64 batters in 50 innings in 2012, recording seven saves for the Spartans.

Jones was originally selected by Kansas City in the 24th round of the 2009 Draft.

Fifth Round

Minnesota didn’t deviate from pitching in the fifth round, using the 160th overall pick on another Rice pitcher, right-hander Tyler Duffey. Duffey worked exclusively as a reliever during his junior season in 2012, fanning 68 in 51 1/3 innings.

— by Jordan Garretson

Pavano to get second MRI on shoulder

CLEVELAND — Carl Pavano is set to fly back to Minneapolis to meet with team physician Dr. Dan Buss tomorrow, and will get a second MRI exam on his right shoulder on Monday.

Pavano, whose original MRI exam on May 11 revealed a strain in the front of his right shoulder, has been scuffling recently as he’s tried to pitch through the injury. The right-hander is 1-4 with an 8.25 ERA over his last five starts.

“We need to find out the physical state of the shoulder and everything else,” assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “And then we’ll sit down with Carl and talk about what we think is the best course of action at that point.”

Pavano, who hasn’t been on the disabled list since 2008, said he wants to stay in the rotation but it’s to the point where he needs to have his shoulder looked at again. He said his shoulder bothers him once he gets to around the 60-pitch mark and hasn’t been making any real progress in recent weeks.

“We’ve got to just find out where we’re at; this is part of the process,” Pavano said. “We’ve kind of exhausted a lot of things, so when you take steps to remedy something and things kind of stand still, you have to find other answers. So I think this is just another step in the process.”

Pavano, though, said he doesn’t think the injury will require surgery. But there remains a chance he’ll need extended rest — as much as six weeks — for his shoulder to get better. The Twins haven’t decided who will replace Pavano in the rotation if he misses his next start on Wednesday.

“I definitely think it’s to the point where it’s affecting me, that’s for sure, affecting my pitches,” said Pavano, who ranks 11th in the Majors in innings pitched dating back to 2009. “But I feel like it would have got a lot worse if it was something that’s going to require surgery or going to be career-threatening. I think it’s something that’s just weak and irritated and it’s causing me discomfort to the point where it’s affecting my strength.

“We’ll see where it goes, but I’m not too concerned about it being something that will affect me for the rest of the year. There’s just a possibility where I have to rest it a little bit and get it back stronger and get that irritation out of there. I think that may be the course we take, but we have to take this next step before making any other decisions.”