March 2013

Twins set for their first split-squad action of spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are set for their first split-squad action of the spring today, as they host the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium and travel to Clearwater to face the Phillies.

Also, for those with MLB.TV, the game against the Phillies will be televised by Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia. The first game televised by FOX Sports North is tomorrow against the Red Sox in a 6:05 p.m. CT start at JetBlue Park.

The game will actually be aired on FOX Sports North Plus. To find out where to access FOX Sports North Plus locally, click here.

The matchup between the Red Sox and Twins is the first of seven Grapefruit League games scheduled to be carried by FOX Sports North. The first four Spring Training telecasts will air on FOX Sports North Plus.

Other games slated to be televised are March 15 at the Red Sox’s JetBlue Park at 6:05 p.m. CT, March 21 at the Yankees’ Steinbrenner Field at 6:05 p.m. CT, March 23 at the Rays’ Charlotte Sports Park at 12:05 p.m. CT, March 24 vs. the Blue Jays at Hammond Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT, March 25 vs. the Cardinals at Hammond Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT and March 28 at the Red Sox’s JetBlue Park at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Right-hander Kevin Correia makes his first start today since he went back home to San Diego for the birth of his third son. He’s starting against the Red Sox while prospect Kyle Gibson is set to take the mound against the Phillies.

I’m down here in Fort Myers for the game against the Red Sox but Adam Berry is up in Clearwater covering the Twins with Ron Gardenhire making the trip north.

Here’s the lineup for the game at Hammond Stadium:

UPDATE: Chris Parmelee was a late scratch with a tight right groin. But I’m told it’s not serious and he’s only out for precautionary reasons. Eduardo Escobar is taking his place as DH.

Red Sox
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Stephen Drew, SS
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Ryan Lavarnway, DH
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Daniel Nava, LF
8. Ryan Sweeney, RF
9. Drew Sutton, 3B

RHP Clay Buchholz (Andrew Bailey, Chris Carpenter, Koji Uehara, Allen Webster)

Twins
1. Joe Benson, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, 2B
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Ryan Doumit, C
5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
6. Eduardo Escobar, DH
7. Jeff Clement, 1B
8. Brandon Boggs, RF
9. Ray Olmedo, SS

RHP Kevin Correia (P.J. Walters, Trevor May, B.J. Hermsen)

Lineups for the Twins and Team Puerto Rico

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are set to host Team Puerto Rico in an exhibition game today at Hammond Stadium.

The Twins are resting several of their regulars, as players such as Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dozier, Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee are getting the day off. But Aaron Hicks is starting in center field and Eduardo Escobar is at second base.

Right-hander Vance Worley is also making his third start of the spring. Others pitchers on the list to throw are Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Luis Perdomo, Caleb Theilbar and Anthony Slama.

Twins prospects Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario are on Puerto Rico’s roster and are expected to play today. Berrios is slated to be used as a reliever in the World Baseball Classic and is expected to pitch in relief today. Rosario, who is listed as an outfielder on Puerto Rico’s roster, is also expected to come in as a defensive replacement for center fielder Angel Pagan.

Puerto Rico:
1. Angel Pagan, CF
2. Irving Falu, 2B
3. Alex Rios, LF
4. Carlos Beltran, RF
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. Mike Aviles, SS
7. Pedro Valdes, DH
8. Carlos Rivera, 1B
9. Andy Gonzalez, 3B

RHP Giancarlo Alvarado

Twins:
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Eduardo Escobar, 2B
3. Mark Sobolewski, 3B
4. Jeff Clement, 1B
5. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
6. Brandon Boggs, DH
7. Josmil Pinto, C
8. Clete Thomas, RF
9. Danny Santana, SS

RHP Vance Worley

Game 11: Hendriks solid but Wood struggles in loss

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Rays rallied for five runs off reliever Tim Wood in the eighth inning to hand the Twins an 8-5 loss on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.

The loss, which was the Twins’ third over their last four games, dropped Minnesota to 6-5 in Grapefruit League play so far this spring.

What went right: Right-hander Liam Hendriks fared well despite the fact that Josh Willingham misplayed a fly ball to left field that he lost in the sun and led to two runs scoring with two outs in the second inning.

Hendriks was able to bounce back by throwing a scoreless third inning and ended up giving up two runs on four hits and a walk over three innings. He has a 3.38 ERA in three Grapefruit League outings and has worked to improve his pace on the mound.

Trevor Plouffe has shown no signs of rust despite missing the first few games of Spring Training with a sore hamstring. He went 1-for-2 with a two-run double in the second inning off Rays left-hander Matt Moore.

Catcher Dan Rolfing got the start at first base and made the most out of it by driving home Plouffe with an RBI double in the sixth. Ray Olmedo added an RBI triple before scoring on a single from Pedro Florimon.

Relievers Brian Duensing and Josh Roenicke each threw two scoreless innings in relief. They were helped by double plays, as the Twins turned three a day after turning five against the Cardinals in Jupiter on Monday.

What went wrong: Wood, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in four innings, had a shaky eighth inning, as he gave up five runs and recorded just two outs before Tyler Robertson was called in to clean up the mess.

Wood had trouble holding runners, as the Rays stole second base against him twice. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he still has faith in Wood, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen, but that he needs to get better in the run game.

Willingham wasn’t charged with an error on the fly ball he lost in the sun in the second — as it was ruled as an RBI double — but it didn’t look good when the ball landed about 30 feet from him in left field. He simply never saw the ball off the bat and lost it in the sun, which can be easy to do without any clouds in the sky and the sun beaming into left field.

What they said: “We had really seven good innings of baseball and then Woody came in and ran into some problems. He couldn’t hold baserunners and was too slow to home and they were running all over him.” — Gardenhire said.

What’s next: Right-hander Vance Worley is set to start in an exhibition game against Team Puerto Rico in a 12:05 p.m. ET start at Hammond Stadium. Twins prospects Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios are both on Team Puerto Rico and could see action in the game.

Injury update: Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (sore left hamstring) has been ruled out for Thursday’s split-squad action but could return this weekend. . … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (strained intercostal muscle) has also been ruled out for Thursday but took batting practice in the cage and could make his return this weekend as well.

photo(4)

Game 9: Pelfrey strong but Twins falter in loss to Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Right-hander Mike Pelfrey tossed three scoreless innings but the bullpen struggled in a 7-2 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Charlotte Sports Park.

The loss was the second in a row for the Twins, who fell to 5-4 in Grapefruit League play.

What went right: Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, gave up just one hit — a double to Evan Longoria — and a walk while throwing 39 pitches with 24 going for strikes. He credited pitching coach Rick Anderson for fixing his mechanics, as he fared better than his first outing when he gave up three runs on five hits against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

It was definitely the sharpest he’s looked this spring, as his command was much better and said he saw a difference in the movement of his pitches. His fastball was at 88-89 mph but said he expects his velocity to get better as Spring Training goes along.

Right-hander Trevor May was the only other Twins pitcher to throw a scoreless inning but even he walked two batters.

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 with an RBI single to right field and is now hitting .400 this spring. Second baseman Brian Dozier went 1-for-3 with a double and scored on Plouffe’s single in the fourth inning. Mark Sobolewski drove home the other run with an RBI double in the ninth inning.

What went wrong: The offense didn’t do much, as left-hander David Price essentially dominated the Twins for three innings. He struck out five and allowed only one hit on a single from Ray Olmedo.

The bullpen also struggled, especially right-hander Jared Burton, who gave up three runs on four hits in his one inning of work to see his ERA balloon to 10.13 in 2 2/3 innings this spring.

Right-handers Alex Burnett and Casey Fien also gave up a run in one inning in relief. And prospect B.J. Hermsen gave up a two-run shot to Chris Gimenez in his Grapefruit League debut. Hermsen, who was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, has had a rough time in his first year in big league camp, as he’s also struggled in “B” games.

What they said: “It’s always good to walk off with good results but at the end of the day I walked off the field and felt good. And at this stage that’s the biggest thing.” — Pelfrey said.

What’s next: Right-hander Cole De Vries makes his first Grapefruit League start on Monday against the Cardinals in Jupiter in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Roger Dean Stadium. De Vries is aiming for a spot in the rotation after being a pleasant surprise last season with a 4.11 ERA in 17 outings with the Twins. Right-hander Lance Lynn is slated to start for St. Louis.

Injury update: Left-hander Rafael Perez (shoulder) played catch from 90 feet on Friday and will progress from there. … Right-hander Rich Harden (shoulder) is playing catch from 150 feet and the Twins plan to take it slow with him.

Rainbow on back fields

Rainbow on back fields

Rainbow over Charlotte Sports Park

Rainbow over Charlotte Sports Park

Twins taking batting practice

Twins taking batting practice

Lineups for Twins and Rays at Charlotte Sports Park

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is set to make his second Grapefruit League start today against the Rays despite being only 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery on May 1.

Pelfrey is hoping to fare better than his last outing, when he gave up three runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. He’ll be interesting to watch, as command is usually the hardest and last thing to get back when coming off Tommy John surgery.

But count Twins prospect Kyle Gibson as one of those who has been amazed by Pelfrey’s progress. Gibson had Tommy John in August of 2011, and said he went through the standard rehab process that takes about 12 months instead of the accelerated process that Pelfrey has gone through.

“He said he was ready to go after nine months,” Gibson said. “My recovery was more normal. I was just getting back on the mound after nine months.”

Twins (5-3)
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Josh Willingham, DH
4. Ryan Doumit, C
5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
6. Joe Benson, RF
7. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
8. Jeff Clement, 1B
9. Ray Olmedo, SS

RHP Mike Pelfrey (Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Tyler Robertson)

Rays (6-3)
1. Desmond Jennings, CF
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Matt Joyce, LF
5. Yunel Escobar, SS
6. Luke Scott, DH
7. James Loney, 1B
8. Jose Lobaton, C
9. Sam Fuld, RF

LHP David Price (Jamey Wright, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, J.D. Martin, Felipe Rivero)

Game 8: Morneau homers in loss to Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — First baseman Justin Morneau homered but Minnesota’s offense mostly struggled in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday at Hammond Stadium.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Twins, who fell to 5-3 in Grapefruit League play.

What went right: Morneau looks absolutely locked in at the plate so far this spring, and hit his first homer in Grapefruit League play off Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves.

Morneau leaves camp with a .471 batting average with a team-high eight RBIs in six games. He also played in six of the club’s first eight games, including five in a row, to get ready for his time with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. There’s definitely reason for optimism, as Morneau is finally healthy after dealing with various injuries the last few years.

Catcher Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 with a single and is hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a .563 on-base percentage in five games. He’s flying out to Arizona on Sunday to join Team USA.

Closer Glen Perkins, who is also leaving camp to join Team USA in the Classic, threw a 1-2-3 fourth inning and struck out two.

Left-hander Brian Duensing threw 1 1/3 perfect innings with a strikeout. Fellow lefty Caleb Thielbar also threw 1 1/3 perfect innings for the Twins. Deolis Guerra and Andrew Albers both tossed a scoreless inning in relief.

What went wrong: The offense didn’t do much, as evidenced by the fact that Morneau’s homer was the only run the Twins scored in the loss.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, making his first Grapefruit League start after throwing two scoreless innings in relief on Sunday, had trouble with his command in the second inning. Gibson, who had Tommy John surgery in September of 2011, gave up one run on three hits over 1 2/3 innings and needed 48 pitches record five outs.

Right-hander Esmerling Vasquez went 1 2/3 innings but gave up the go-ahead RBI single to Ryan Sweeney in the fifth inning.

What they said: “Hopefully it means we’re ready to go. It’s a good way to head in there. That’s for sure.” — Morneau said about homering in his last at-bat before the World Baseball Classic.

What’s next: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is set to make his second Grapefruit League start on Sunday against the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Charlotte Sports Park. Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, gave up three runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Left-hander David Price is slated to start for the Rays.

Injury update: Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (sore left hamstring) is expected to return to action by middle or late this week. His injury is not considered serious. … Left-hander Scott Diamond (elbow) threw his first full bullpen session on Thursday without any issues and is scheduled to throw another on Sunday. … Right-hander Anthony Swarzak (ribs) played catch for the first time this spring on Thursday, and again on Friday, and said everything is progressing on schedule. … Left-hander Rafael Perez (shoulder) played catch from 90 feet on Friday and will progress from there. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (strained intercostal muscle) is feeling much better but the Twins are taking it easy with him. He should return to action by next week.

Lineups for Twins and Red Sox at Hammond Stadium

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today marks the first game between the Twins and Red Sox in their annual battle for the Mayor’s Cup.

Well, actually there’s been some debate whether the Mayor’s Cup exists now that the Red Sox moved into JetBlue Park last year, as both teams are actually located in unincorporated Lee County and not in the city of Fort Myers. Either way, it’s the first of eight meetings between the two clubs in Grapefruit League play this year.

Josh Willingham returns to the lineup for the Twins after sitting out yesterday’s game in Jupiter with back stiffness. He leads all hitters in Spring Training with a .727 batting average. It also will be the last game for Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins before they depart for Arizona for the World Baseball Classic.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson also gets his first Grapefruit League start today. He’s been the most impressive pitcher I’ve seen in camp so far — his fastball was hitting 96 mph in his last outing — and has a legitimate chance to make the rotation.

I also talked to Scott Diamond (elbow) and Anthony Swarzak (ribs) this morning and they’re both encouraged by their recent progress. Diamond threw a full bullpen session and is scheduled to throw another one tomorrow with the hope of getting into his first game in mid-March. Swarzak played catch on Thursday and Friday but still doesn’t know when his first bullpen will be.

Red Sox (4-4)
1. Shane Victorino, RF
2. Ryan Sweeney, LF
3. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Juan Carlos Linares, DH
6. Mitch Maier, CF
7. Daniel Butler, C
8. Jose Iglesias, SS
9. Jonathan Diaz, 2B

RHP Clay Buchholz (Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Allen Webster, Jose De La Torre)

Twins (5-2)
1. Joe Benson, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

RHP Kyle Gibson (Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, P.J. Walters, Esmerling Vasquez, Andrew Albers, Deolis Guerra, Anthony Slama, Caleb Thielbar)

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