February 2013

Arcia out with a pulled intercostal muscle

SARASOTA — Twins outfield prospect Oswaldo Arcia pulled his intercostal muscle on Friday, and the club isn’t sure when he’ll return, according to manager Ron Gardenhire.

Arcia, ranked as the club’s No. 5 prospect and the No. 93 overall prospect according to MLB.com, was expected to start in right field in the Hammond Stadium opener against the Rays tomorrow.

But he’s scheduled to meet with team physician Dr. John Steubs today instead to determine how long he’ll be out.

“He got hurt,” Gardenhire said. “He pulled a intercostal muscle. He did yesterday morning early working out. So they told me Dr. Steubs will check him today and we’ll know about the days [he’ll be out]. But obviously they don’t go away overnight. So there’s a chance it might be a little bit before he sees action again.”

Arcia, 21, is considered a long shot to make the club out of Spring Training, as the Twins plan on using Chris Parmelee as their starting right fielder to open the season. Arcia is expected to open the year at Triple-A Rochester but could be called up during the season if he hits like he did last year when he hit .320/.388/.539 with 17 homers and 36 doubles in 124 games split between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.

“I wanted to get some looks at him so it’s kind of disappointing,” Gardenhire said. I wanted to see him swing. But those things happen. So we gotta get him well now.”

Twins hold final workout before Grapefruit League play

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins held their final workout of Spring Training before their Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles tomorrow in Sarasota.

It was a much shorter workout than in previous days, as only six pitchers — Mike Pelfrey, Michael Tonkin, Deolis Guerra, Caleb Thielbar, Samuel Deduno and Trevor May — threw live bullpen sessions.

Right-hander Kevin Correia is set to start in the opener tomorrow, and is expected to go two innings or 40 pitches. He’s one of nine pitchers set to make the trip to Sarasota, as Shairon Martis, Ryan Pressly, Josh Roenicke, Tim Wood, Anthony Slama, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Augenstein and Tyler Robertson are also on the travel list.

But the Twins will be without Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer as well as Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson.

The Twins also just released their lineup for the first game against the Orioles. Here it is:

1. Darin Mastroianni, CF
2. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Ryan Doumit, DH
5. Chris Parmelee, RF
6. Chris Colabello, 1B
7. Brian Dozier, 2B
8. Drew Butera, C
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

RHP Kevin Correia

Here are some other notes from camp:

– Guerra was added to Team Venezuela’s official roster for the World Baseball Classic and will leave camp on March 3. He’s one of 13 Twins players set to participate.

– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t say who will bat second this season. Personally, I think it makes sense to move Mauer up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup given the club’s lack of top-of-the-order options but we’ll see what he decides.

– After Liam Hendriks starts on Sunday, other pitchers on the list to throw are closer Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Kyle Gibson, Bryan Augenstein, Luis Perdomo, Anthony Slama and Deolis Guerra. Augenstein, Perdomo and Slama are also making the trip to Sarasota on Saturday, so if they pitch in the Grapefruit League opener they won’t pitch on Sunday.

And here are a few photos:

Hendriks to start Hammond Stadium opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Liam Hendriks is scheduled to start the Grapefruit League home opener against the Rays at Hammond Stadium on Sunday, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

Hendriks, 24, is set to pitch a day after right-hander Kevin Correia starts against the Orioles in the Grapefruit League opener in Sarasota.

Hendriks, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, posted a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts with the Twins and a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A Rochester.

The Twins are also set to play in an instraquad game on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The game is expected to be six innings and will feature P.J. Walters, B.J. Hermsen, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Caleb Thielbar, Jose Berrios and Andrew Albers.

“A lot of the kids are going to be throwing in the intrasquad game,” Gardenhire said. “So that’ll be good.”

Here are other notes from camp:

– Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who is dealing with sore right calf, is participating in running and fielding drills but isn’t expected to make his Grapefruit League debut until next week. Jamey Carroll will see time at third in his absence.

– Gardenhire said he’s not locked in to carrying three catchers like he did most of last season. Here’s what he said about the bench: “We’re going to figure that out as we go here. I know we want a little more something off the bench instead of two utility guys and a backup catcher. I’m going to have a better bench and have a little more weapons.”

– Gardenhire wasn’t pleased with the effort of some pitchers in drills. He said he plans on tightening up practice tomorrow, as only six pitchers are scheduled to throw live bullpens. “Some guys were not locked in. But that happens after doing it for eight days. So we had to stop it and yell.”

– I had a nice conversation with Anthony Slama, who is in big league camp after spending last year in Minor League camp. The Twins need to give him a shot at some point this season, if only because he has a career 1.99 ERA in the Minors and had a 1.39 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 39 innings at Triple-A Rochester last season. Look for a story on him soon.

And here are a few photos:

Correia to start Grapefruit League opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Kevin Correia is slated to start Minnesota’s Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles on Saturday in Sarasota, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced today.

Correia, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal to join the Twins this offseason, is set to make the start because the club wants him to make two starts before he departs for San Diego on Feb. 27 because his wife is due to give birth.

“We’re going to get him out there a couple times before that,” Gardenhire said. “Then he’s going to head out. It’s all planned. He’ll come back after that. Right now,we’ll get him out there first and go from there.”

After Correia, Shairon Martis, Ryan Pressly, Josh Roenicke, Tim Wood, Anthony Slama, Luis Perdomo and Bryan Augenstein are on the list to throw against the Orioles.

The Twins, however, have yet to announce a starter for Opening Day against the Tigers on April 1 at Target Field. Left-hander Scott Diamond is the frontrunner but it’ll depend on his health, as he’s just starting to throw off a mound after undergoing surgery in December to have a bone chip removed from his elbow.

Diamond threw off a mound for a second straight day today and is scheduled to throw a full bullpen session on Friday before facing live hitters next week. And if all continues to go well, he could be pitching in Grapefruit League games by the second week of March.

So while he’s not ready to make any predictions about being ready for the season just yet, he’s happy with his progress.

“The ball is coming out good but it’s just about finding the mechanics and that release point,” Diamond said. “Everything is lining up, which is positive. I’m just trying to get out the kinks but structurally it feels awesome. I’m not having any discomfort or tightness the next day. So basically, the recovery is going really well.”

Other notes from Twins camp:

– Gardenhire was impressed by what he saw from Rule 5 Draft selection Ryan Pressly and Tim Wood. Both threw live bullpens at Hammond Stadium. “I got to see some new people I hadn’t seen throw,” Gardenhire said. “Pressly and guys like that. I changed fields today for that reason. That was kind of fun to watch. Wood, the ball moves around all over the place.”

– Trevor Plouffe, who is dealing with a sore right calf, took part in infield drills and took batting practice. He also was able to do some light running drills.

– Make sure to check out Training Days, which is the Twins’ new behind-the-scenes video series they are debuting this spring. Today is Episode 1 and new episodes are expected to debut every Wednesday.

– Also, if you’re on Instagram, make sure to give me a follow (@rhettbollinger). I take a lot of photos on there, including ones that don’t end up on Twitter. I also joined Telly to post videos there, including ones I took today of Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee taking batting practice.

Here are some of those photos from today:

Gardenhire impressed by young arms in camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got a glimpse of the future today, as he saw Vance Worley and prospects Alex Meyer and Kyle Gibson throw live batting practice to Twins hitters.

Of that group, Worley, who came over in the trade that sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia, is the only lock to make the rotation this spring while Gibson is competing for a spot.

Meyer and Gibson, however, are regarded as two of the better pitching prospects in baseball, as Meyer was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 40 overall prospect while Gibson was ranked No. 49.

“I saw some pretty good arms on my field,” Gardenhire said. “Kids throwing the ball, winging it. Pretty good angles with some pretty good arms. Always fun to watch, get a chance to see them versus hitters. But it’s still just versus our hitters. First time out there, throwing live BP in awhile for these guys, so you have to calm them down a little here and there. Most of them handle themselves pretty well. The younger ones want to show the world.”

Gardenhire said his goal this spring is to try and see as much as he can of the prospects and new additions in camp instead of just relying on scouting reports.

“I’m making my own decisions,” Gardenhire said. “I haven’t seen these guys enough to sit there and read reports and have somebody tell me this or that. I want to see them. I need to see these guys. I want to make my own decisions.”

Here are a few other notes from camp:

– Samuel Deduno was a late addition to the Dominican Republic’s preliminary roster for the World Baseball Classic. The roster is still only tentative but if he remains on the roster, he’ll leave camp in early March.

– Gibson said his live bullpen session went well. He was able to get several swings and misses even though he was telling hitters what was coming.

– I didn’t get a chance to see it but heard great things about the way pitching prospect Jose Berrios looked in his live bullpen session. He’s only in camp because he’s set to participate in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico.

– Trevor Plouffe is still limited by a sore right calf but it didn’t stop him from putting on a show in batting practice. I was told that one long homer to left field hit a car in the parking lot.

– I had a nice conversation with Worley, who explained how crazy it was for him when he was traded to the Twins. He was set to pick up his engagement ring the same day he was traded. You can read the story here.

– I also taped an interview with MLB.com’s video crew today so that should go up at Twinsbaseball.com at some point this week.

And here a few photos from camp:

Pelfrey pleased with first live bullpen session

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today marked the first day of live batting practice for Twins pitchers and catchers, and no one was more pleased to participate than right-hander Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, remains ahead of schedule and threw 38 pitches in a live bullpen session against Drew Butera, Wilkin Ramirez and Chris Colabello. He estimated he also threw about 40 more pitches off the mound to warm up.

“I forgot how much fun that was,” Pelfrey said. “It had been a long time. That was my reward for busting my butt the last nine and a half months. I had a blast out there and wanted to keep going. I felt great. It surprised me how well the ball was coming out of my hand.”

Pelfrey said he’s feeling good enough that he’ll be on the same schedule as the rest of the pitchers in camp, as he’s set to throw again on Wednesday and on Friday. He threw all of his pitches in his bullpen session — without the use of the protective L-screen — and was pleased with all of them with the exception of his slider, which he didn’t throw for a strike.

He maintained that’ll he’ll be ready for the start of the season with the Twins set to open on April 1 against the Tigers on Opening Day.

“I’m going to be ready,” Pelfrey said. “I guess it’s hard for some people to believe maybe. But I feel great. There are some doctors who are a little more aggressive. And Dr. James Andrews is that way and that’s who I went to. So I have no doubt in my mind that Opening Day I’ll be on the team.”

Here are some other notes from camp:

– Right-hander Rich Harden, who is coming back from shoulder surgery, took two days off to recover after throwing a bullpen on Saturday but is scheduled to throw again tomorrow. He didn’t suffer a setback but is just taking it slow.

– Third baseman Trevor Plouffe is dealing with a sore right calf and has been limited in early workouts, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. But the injury is minor and he’s only being held out for precautionary reasons. He’s yet to participate in any of the infield drills and hasn’t been running either.

– Gardenhire wouldn’t say who the first starter will be once Grapefruit League play begins on Saturday. He said they’re also working to add “B” games to the schedule against the Red Sox, Rays or Pirates.

– Josh Willingham asked for bunting advice from Rod Carew, who shook his head before giving him some tips. But don’t expect Willingham to bunt in a game because here’s what Gardenhire had to say when asked when he’ll call for Willingham to bunt: “If I’m ever trying to get fired.”

And here are some photos from today’s action:

Cold, windy day at Lee County Sports Complex

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With temperatures in the 40s and heavy winds today, it wasn’t a typical Florida day for the Twins during their second day of full workouts.

But the club was still able to get through all of the drills, including infield practice, pitchers fielding practice, bullpen sessions and batting practice.

“We got everything done,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was a good day. Guys were really locked in. It was really fun to watch. The PFP went great on our field. I didn’t see the guys down the street but everybody said they did good. But our group was really locked in today. It was the best round yet.”

The most entertaining part of practice was the pop-up drills behind the plate for the catchers at Hammond Stadium. New bench coach Terry Steinbach had a little trouble operating the machine because of the wind with three balls coming back to hit the machine.

“The wind and the high sky where the ball looks like a golf ball up high up there and Steiny hitting the machine, all of those made for elements that made it tough,” Gardenhire said. “But it was good to get guys on the main stadium so that guys know the distance and all that. So it was a good drill for them. But it’s tough.”

Here are a few other notes from today’s workouts:

– Rafael Perez threw his first bullpen since joining the Twins on a Minor League deal and looked sharp, according to pitching coach Rick Anderson. Perez is coming off shoulder surgery so he’ll be monitored closely this spring but the plan for now is to try to stretch him out as a starter.

– Rich Harden didn’t throw a bullpen, as he took an extra day off because he’s coming off shoulder surgery. But Anderson said it was planned and not a setback.

– Tomorrow will mark the first day that Twins pitchers throw to Twins hitters in live batting practice. So it should make for a more interesting day.

Twins hold first day of full squad workouts

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins held their first full squad workouts of Spring Training today with the day beginning with manager Ron Gardenhire addressing all 67 players in big league camp in a team meeting.

Gardenhire stressed turning the page on the struggles of the last two seasons and called on his players to take pride in playing for the Twins.

“It was basically, welcome here and expectations,” Gardenhire said. “What you can and can’t control, that type of stuff, and how we expect everybody to handle themselves.”

After the meeting, the pitchers and position players broke up into different groups with the pitchers throwing bullpens and working on fielding practice with the hitters doing fielding practice and taking batting practice.

Live batting practice isn’t set to start until Monday, when Twins pitchers will get a chance to throw against the position players in camp.

Here are some other notes from Twins camp:

– Scott Diamond, who had a bone chip removed from his left elbow, admitted that today wasn’t his best day. He said his flat-ground session didn’t quite feel as sharp as the day before but that he’s slated to throw from 150 feet tomorrow. He hopes to throw off a mound sometime next week but is still questionable for Opening Day.

– Gardenhire said there are no favorites in the middle infield competition that’s set to include Jamey Carroll, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar. But Dozier will work almost exclusively at second base this spring after coming up to the big leagues last year as a shortstop.

– There is no competition at third base, as Gardenhire said that Trevor Plouffe is his third baseman. The club talked about adding competition there this offseason but never added another third baseman to the roster.

– Top outfield prospect Oswaldo Arcia put on a show in batting practice. He displayed all of the raw power that makes him a top prospect by hitting balls into the next field. He’s expected to start at Triple-A Rochester but could see time with the Twins this season.

And here is a photo gallery and another reminder to follow me on Instagram (rhettbollinger):

Morneau arrives at camp, talks about contract

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Justin Morneau arrived at the Lee County Sports Complex today and held court with reporters for more than 10 minutes with one of the biggest topics being his contract status.

Morneau is in the last year of a six-year, $80 million contract signed in 2008 so it very well could be his last year in a Twins uniform. He also could be trade bait before the July 31 Trade Deadline if he proves to be healthy and productive, and the Twins are out of contention.

Here’s what Morneau had to say regarding his contract, as he said his agent and the Twins have not discussed an extension and he’d prefer not to do it during the season:

Are you content to wait until October or November to worry about your contract?
“Yeah, whatever it is it’ll take care of itself. If I get through the year healthy we’ll see what happens then. I’ll let all that stuff play out. I’m hoping we’ll be making additions at the Trade Deadline instead of worrying about who were trading. So until that comes along and it’s proved otherwise, we plan on being a team that’s going to battle and be in it in July and hopefully adding to this team whatever we need.”

Did you explore an extension at all and talk about doing it now?
“I think from their side and my side they want to see where I’m at. The last few years there have been some difficulties with all the injuries and all that stuff. It’s not something I’m really interested in doing during the season because it can become a distraction. But I’ll never say never. It’s something where the future looks good with the prospects list and what we have coming and all that stuff. I want to win obviously and so that’s the important thing. If it looks like there’s a chance we’re going to win, I’d love to stay here. I’ve been here my whole career and this where I hope to be in the future. It’s hard to say otherwise. But sometimes those decisions aren’t yours. So we’ll see. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Excited to play for a contract and does it motivate you at all?
“Obviously you never know what the future holds if I’m going to be here or not. It’s one of those things where it is what it is. I’ve never been in this situation before. Obviously a young player you make the team and you try to make it to arbitration and get some stability. And for me, I was locked up after my first year of arbitration. So it’s something I haven’t experienced before but it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still to win.”

Notes from a rainy day at Twins camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins were forced to change their workout plans today because of rain but manager Ron Gardenhire said everyone was still able to get their work in.

All 16 pitchers scheduled to throw bullpens, including Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks, Tim Wood, Anthony Slama and Trevor May, were able to throw off the mound near the club’s Minor League complex.

The catchers — and the other position players who are here early in camp — hit in the batting cages while pitchers were able to work on their bunting.

“We got just about everything done except for some of the fundamentals like covering first base,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But we do that a lot so we’re OK.”

The Twins also made some news today, as they signed left-hander Rafael Perez to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. Perez is expected to get here on Saturday.

In an interesting move, the Twins are planning on stretching out Perez despite the fact he was used as a reliever during his time with the Indians. But he’s also coming off shoulder surgery in September so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares this spring. But it’s a low-risk deal on a guy with a combined 3.14 ERA dating back to 2010.

Here are a few other notes from camp:

– Pelfrey said his bullpen session went just fine and actually threw about 55 pitches, which is more than most pitchers at this point in camp. But he said he’ll be on the same schedule as everyone else this spring and has no doubts he’ll be ready for Opening Day despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in May.

– Kyle Gibson, who is also coming off Tommy John surgery, said he won’t be facing any restrictions this spring either. He threw his first official bullpen yesterday and reported no problems.

– Catcher Joe Mauer said he was impressed by both Tim Wood and Josh Roenicke in bullpen sessions today. Wood is one to watch for this spring, as he was named the International League reliever of the year the last two seasons. And Roenicke is coming off a career year, as he posted a 3.25 ERA in 88 2/3 innings with the Rockies.

– Gardenhire said Twins pitchers will start throwing live bullpens starting on Monday. Position players are required to report tomorrow with the first full squad workouts set for Saturday morning.

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