CHICAGO — It’s Opening Day here at U.S. Cellular Field, and it looks like it should be a beautiful day for baseball.
The Twins already made a roster move this morning, as they officially added left-hander Brian Duensing to the paternity list and recalled right-hander Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester. But the move was expected, as Tonkin was at Sunday’s informal workout.
The first lineup of the season is also out, and Jason Kubel is sitting with left-hander Chris Sale on the mound for the White Sox. Chris Colabello gets the start at designated hitter over Kubel, even though he hit better against right-handed pitchers than left-handers last season in both the Minors and Majors.
Kurt Suzuki is also batting second, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering he hit there late in spring. But it’s still a curious decision, as Suzuki has a career .309 on-base percentage and just a .282 on-base percentage over the last two seasons.
But the Twins just don’t have many options for the two-hole unless they decide to move Joe Mauer up in the lineup like they did last year. Aaron Hicks also could move up but the Twins want to ease him into the lineup after he went just 2-for-48 to start last year as the club’s leadoff hitter. So we’ll see how long the Suzuki batting second experiment lasts.
1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Kurt Suzuki, C
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Chris Colabello, DH
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
RHP Ricky Nolasco
White Sox lineup:
1. Adam Eaton, CF
2. Marcus Semien, DH
3. Conor Gillaspie, 3B
4. Jose Abreu, 1B
5. Adam Dunn, DH
6. Avisail Garcia, RF
7. Alejandro De Aza, LF
8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
9. Tyler Flowers, C
LHP Chris Sale
CHICAGO — Left-hander Brian Duensing will be placed on the paternity list on Monday, and right-hander Michael Tonkin will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot on the roster.
Duensing, who flew back home to Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday night, is expecting his second child with his wife, Lisa. Duensing is expected to be on paternity leave for three days so he could return in time for the third game of the season against the White Sox on Thursday.
“I think the doctors decided a few days ago that everything was good but they didn’t want to wait any longer and induce today,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “He came in and felt bad but we told him not to worry about it.”
With Duensing on paternity leave, it gives Tonkin his first chance to be on an Opening Day roster after originally being optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Monday.
Tonkin, 24, had an impressive showing in Spring Training, as he didn’t allow a run in seven appearances. The 6-foot-7 right-hander gave up just three hits over 8 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.
“Tonkin could’ve been on my baseball team and on this staff just like a lot of other guys we sent out this spring,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I’ve got no worries. We just want Deuce to go home and take care of his wife and the baby. It’s a beautiful thing for that. I know he wants to be here but there are more important things than that. It’s an exciting moment so we want him to be his wife. And we’ll have Tonkin here so we’re happy about that. I’m not afraid to put him anywhere.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The competition for the fifth spot in the rotation became a bit clearer for the Twins on Friday, as the fifth spot is now expected to be occupied by either right-hander Kyle Gibson or left-hander Scott Diamond.
Right-hander Samuel Deduno, who was considered the favorite for the fifth spot in his rotation based on his 3.83 ERA in 18 starts last season and his 2.19 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances, is expected to start the year as a long reliever.
Gibson is now the frontrunner, and gets the start against the Orioles on Tuesday, while Diamond is scheduled to piggyback Gibson in that game. There were early reports saying Gibson had already won the job but it was shot down by both Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony.
Deduno also remains in that mix in case Gibson or Diamond falter but given Deduno’s propensity for high pitch counts that don’t allow him to go deep into games, the Twins like him better in long relief. Diamond, who like Deduno is out of Minor League options, also could head to the bullpen or be placed on waivers if he loses out to Gibson.
“There’s a better chance that Deduno will end up in the bullpen,” Antony said. “I think he’s still in the mix for the rotation. We’re going to continue to pitch him stretched out but we only have a week left to straighten this out so it’s going to be more Gibson and Diamond. Deduno is still in the mix but we feel like he could handle the bullpen better.”
Right-hander Vance Worley was originally in that mix but was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester on Friday after clearing waivers.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins general manager Terry Ryan made a surprise visit to Hammond Stadium on Friday, and is scheduled to watch the Twins play the Yankees on Saturday afternoon before heading back to Minnesota.
Ryan, who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous lump from his neck on Feb. 11, caught the last few innings of Minnesota’s 9-1 loss to the Mets, and more importantly had a chance to meet with Twins coaches and staff members to show that he’s feeling much better.
Ryan still has five more weeks of radiation left, and underwent radiation before his flight Friday, but looked healthy and showed no ill-effects from the radiation treatments, which began on March 13. He did lose about 14 pounds after the surgery but said he’s gained roughly half of it back.
“I decided it was probably a good thing and important to come down here and show everybody that I’m still engaged,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure what the right decision is. But I have to go back because I have radiation five days a week from Monday to Friday. So I can’t stay long. As much as I’d like to be here at least a week, I can’t, and I have to leave tomorrow.”
Ryan, 60, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in early February after a lump was found in a lymph node in his neck. He underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Feb. 11 and was released from the hospital three days later.
He said he’s still been able to watch Twins games on television with all 16 of their home games televised locally by Fox Sports North, and remains in constant contact with his assistants Rob Antony, Wayne Krivsky, Mike Radcliff, Bill Smith and Jack Goin.
“If I have treatment in the morning, I go right from there to my Target [Field] office,” Ryan said. “It works out fine. I stay till mid-afternoon and go home and turn [baseball] on. So it’s a decent day. I get plenty of information. When I get home, I have the opportunity to watch a lot of games. MLB televises like three games a day so it’s very convenient to keep an eye on the industry.”
Ryan said he’ll miss Opening Day against the White Sox on March 31 in Chicago, as he won’t be able to travel much until he’s done with radiation treatments in late April. But he said he plans on being there for every game at Target Field, including the home opener against the A’s on April 7. Antony is expected to travel in Ryan’s place early in the season when the Twins are on the road.
“All the home games I’ll be in attendance,” Ryan said. “If things go right, I should be OK, and move on.”
Ryan added that he plans to meet with Twins players in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game but said he’s more likely to talk to the players one-on-one rather than giving a speech to the team. He also said he plans on heading over to the Minor League side as well.
Antony, who has been serving as acting GM in Ryan’s absence this spring, was among those who had a chance to see Ryan on Friday, and was happy to see Ryan doing so well.
“I think it’s a relief and good for everybody to see him,” Antony said. “Just to catch up with him and talk to him. We went over a few things about the team but we also talked about how he’s doing.”
Ryan also wanted to give out the message that he appreciates all the support he’s received from those around the game, including Twins employees and fans.
“I’m thankful for all the attention, help and care and interest,” Ryan said. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of well-wishes. It’s unbelievable the support I’ve got. My wife [Karilyn] has had to a lot of stuff for me because I was on a feeding tube for a while. But I’m feeling good right now. I’m optimistic things are moving in the right direction. There’s no doubt about that.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-hander Vance Worley, who came into camp competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester on Friday.
Worley, who was out of Minor League options and couldn’t be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers, posted a 13.50 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances, including a rough outing against the Rays on Tuesday night, when he gave up seven runs on 11 hits, including six doubles. He was placed on waivers after his poor outing against the Rays, and cleared Friday afternoon.
His struggles have been a continuation from last year, when Worley started the year as the club’s Opening Day starter, but had a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts before being optioned to Triple-A Rochester in late May.
Worley, 26, was originally acquired by the Twins before the 2013 season in a trade that sent Ben Revere to the Phillies. Worley had bone chips removed from his elbow before the ’13 campaign and saw his season end in July because of a shoulder strain, but he came into camp healthy and 25 pounds lighter.
But the results haven’t been there, and Worley pitched himself out of consideration for the fifth spot in the rotation.
He’ll now go to Triple-A Rochester, where he’ll be a part of the rotation there and give the Twins starting pitching depth. The move also opens up a roster spot for the Twins, who now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins closer Glen Perkins is staying put in his native Minnesota for the foreseeable future.
Perkins, who was already signed to an extension through the 2015 season, restructured his deal and signed a new extension through the 2017 season on Friday.
The left-hander will make $4.025 million this season, $4.65 million in 2015, $6.3 million in ’16 and $6.5 million in ’17. The deal also includes a $6.5 million club option for the ’18 season that includes a $700,000 buyout, guaranteeing Perkins $22.175 million through the ’17 season.
Perkins, a Stillwater, Minn. native who also pitched at the University of Minnesota, said he was the one who first went to the Twins about the extension because he wanted to stay with his hometown club.
“I think the priority was getting it done quickly, which we did,” Perkins said. “I was the one approached them because I want to be here. I made that clear. I believe in what we’re doing here and I want to be a part of that. I’m thankful for them broaching the subject with me, and extending themselves on something they weren’t required to do. So I’m appreciative of that and excited about it.”
Perkins, 31, was an All-Star for the first time last year, when he posted a 2.30 ERA with 36 saves in 40 chances. The lefty also struck out 77 and walked 15 in 62 2/3 innings.
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said the deal happened quickly after meeting with Perkins’ agent, John Courtwright, on Thursday. Antony added that Perkins wanting an extension came as somewhat as a surprise to the organization because Perkins had already signed an extension before the ’12 season as well.
“It kinda caught me off-guard a little bit because he had a few more years on his deal,” Antony said. “But he was reasonable with what they came with and what they wanted to do. It made some sense for us. When he signed his initial deal it was as a setup guy with some protection if he became closer. This way, he gets treated like a closer. He gets security and we get a deal we’re comfortable with.”
Perkins took over as closer for the Twins during the ’12 season, replacing Matt Capps as closer in late June, and ended that season with a 2.56 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings to go along with 16 saves.
It came after he was moved to the bullpen full-time in ’11, excelling with a 2.48 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 21 walks in 61 2/3 innings as a setup man.
But it wasn’t always easy for Perkins, as he had a combined 5.87 ERA from ’09-10, including a 5.81 ERA in 124 innings at Triple-A Rochester in ’10.
Perkins, though, has found his niche in the bullpen and made it clear that he doesn’t want to pitch for any other club other than the Twins.
“I grew up in Minnesota and there’s nowhere else I want to play,” Perkins said. “So now hopefully this is something where I can play here my whole career.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Aaron Hicks and Chris Colabello both homered but Kevin Correia and Vance Worley each gave up four runs in an 8-4 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.
Hicks, who had been dealing with a sore right shoulder, made an immediate impact, as he homered in his first at-bat since March 4 with a pinch-hit solo blast off lefty Adam Wilk in the fifth inning.
What went right: Hicks couldn’t have scripted a better return to action, as the homer also came on his first swing on a 1-0 fastball from Wilk.
Hicks, who hit the homer from the right side, also laced a line drive to first base in his next at-bat while batting left-handed but it was caught by Chris McGuiness.
Colabello also continued his hot start to Spring Training with a two-run shot off right-hander Jake Brigham. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire commented after the game that Colabello, who is hitting .467 this spring, has been the club’s best hitter in Grapefruit League play.
Joe Mauer also went 2-for-2 with a walk, while Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Josmil Pinto also went 1-for-2 with a walk and is now batting .444 this spring.
Right-hander Deolis Guerra turned in a third straight scoreless appearance, and struck out one. Gardenhire said he’s been impressed by Guerra’s changeup this spring, as it’s been getting a lot of swings and misses.
What went wrong: Correia had his first rough start of the spring, giving up four runs on seven hits over three innings.
He gave up a two-run blast to his former teammate Pedro Alvarez but said after the game that he wouldn’t have given a fastball to Alvarez with a runner on second and two outs during the regular season.
Worley also pitched better than his line indicated, as he gave up four runs on three hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings.
He was also done in by a two-run blast — this one from Travis Ishikawa — but said it came on a changeup, which is his fourth-best pitch and one he was trying to work on during Wednesday’s outing. Gardenhire actually liked what he saw from Worley, who was otherwise effective and kept the ball down with a fastball that was hitting 93 mph.
Alex Presley and Josh Willingham both continued their slow starts to the spring, as they both went 0-for-2. Presley is now hitting .190, while Willingham is batting .067. Jason Bartlett also went 0-for-3 and doesn’t have a hit in 17 at-bats this spring.
What they said: “It felt good to be able to make solid contact after being out for a while. It felt good to get a good pitch to hit. Everything feels good.” — Hicks on homering in his first at-bat since March 4.
What’s next: Right-hander Phil Hughes is slated to make his third Grapefruit League appearance on Thursday against the Red Sox in a 12:05 p.m. CT start at Hammond Stadium. Hughes, who signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Twins this offseason, has a 1.59 ERA this spring. Right-hander Samuel Deduno is also scheduled to pitch for the Twins.
Injury update: Shortstop Pedro Florimon, who had his appendix removed on Feb. 19, is getting closer to returning to game action. He could play in Minor League games as early as this weekend, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Jason Kubel hit his first homer of the spring but it was all the offense the Twins could muster in a 7-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco also made his second Grapefruit League start for the Twins (5-5-1), giving up two runs on four hits over four innings.
What went right: Kubel entered the game just 1-for-14 this spring but homered in his first at-bat against Rays left-hander David Price.
It was a positive sign for Kubel, who still has a strong shot to make the roster as a designated hitter/outfielder despite his slow start to the spring.
Wilkin Ramirez, Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar had the other three hits for the Twins, who managed just four on the afternoon.
Nolasco was mostly solid, coming off Thursday’s simulated game after his scheduled start on Thursday’s was rained out. But he did give up an RBI double to Yunel Escobar and an RBI single to David DeJesus in the second inning.
What went wrong: Left-hander Scott Diamond gave up two runs on four hits and a walk over two innings, and now has a 6.00 ERA in three appearances this spring.
Diamond, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, hasn’t been helping himself with his recent outings. But he wasn’t hit hard on Tuesday, as none of the hits were for extra-bases and the runs scored on a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout.
So Diamond still remains in the mix for that final spot in the rotation but needs to put together some solid outings as the Twins get closer to the end of spring.
Right-hander Ryan Pressly, who was solid as a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, gave up two runs in his one inning of work and has an 8.31 ERA in 4 1/3 innings this spring. The two runs came on a homer from Jeremy Moore in the seventh inning but Pressly settled down after the homer to strike out the next two batters
Left-hander Caleb Thielbar also gave up a run in the eighth on an RBI double from Curt Casali.
What they said: “It felt good to finally hit one hard. The results aren’t there but I feel like over the last few games, my last four or five at-bats are feeling pretty good. So if it keeps getting better each day before the season starts, I’ll be right where I want to be.” — Kubel on his first home run of the spring.
What’s next: Right-hander Kevin Correia is set to make his second Grapefruit League appearance on Wednesday against the Pirates in a 12:05 p.m. CT start at Hammond Stadium. Correia has been sharp so far in spring, and has also made appearances in an intrasquad game and a B’ game. Right-hander Gerrit Cole is slated to start for Pittsburgh.
Injury update: Outfielder Aaron Hicks, who has been feeling discomfort in his right elbow while swinging the bat, is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who has been dealing with what he think is food poisoning, is also expected to play Wednesday. … Reliever Matt Guerrier, who surgery in mid-August to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow, tossed a scoreless inning in his spring debut in a Minor League intrasquad game.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right-handers Mike Pelfrey and Samuel Deduno combined to allow just one hit over six scoreless innings against the Phillies but the game ended in a 1-1 tie on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
Joe Mauer had the lone RBI for the Twins with a one-out RBI single in the first inning to score Darin Mastroianni. The Phillies, who made the trip from Clearwater, decided against going to extra innings after the game remained tied after nine innings.
What went right: Pelfrey turned in his best outing of the spring, as he tossed three hitless innings.
He threw 35 pitches with 20 going for strikes, including one strikeout, but did walk two batters in his third start of the spring.
Deduno was also solid, giving up just one hit and a walk over three scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He’s making a serious case to be the club’s fifth starter, as he now has a 1.35 ERA in three outings and was effective last season with a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts.
It’s still too early in spring for Deduno to claim the fifth starter spot but he does appear to be the frontrunner over Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson.
Gibson also pitched Sunday, giving up one unearned run on one hit with one walk. He pitched during the eighth inning, which featured two plays that were looked at by replay but were ultimately left unchanged.
The lone run the Phillies scored came on a close play at the plate but there wasn’t good enough video quality for the umpires to overturn the call even though Twins director of Major League video Sean Harlin urged the Twins to ask for a replay, as he was 99 percent positive John Mayberry was out at the plate.
Reliever Michael Tonkin also made another big impression on the coaching staff, throwing a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.
On the offensive side, Mauer went 1-for-3 with an RBI single while Deibinson Romero went 2-for-3 with a triple.
What went wrong: The Twins didn’t manage to do much offensively, as they only had seven hits and didn’t score after the first inning.
They also had two runners caught stealing, including Alex Presley, who over-slid the bag at second base in the eighth inning, and Jermaine Mitchell, who was thrown out in the ninth after getting a bad jump.
The Twins also had a few sloppy plays in the field, with shortstop Danny Santana making an error in the seventh inning, and third baseman Brandon Waring making a throwing error in the eighth. Waring’s errant throw led to the one run surrendered by the Twins.
What they said: “Coming out of the ‘pen, whatever, I like the guy and would like him on my staff. I would love to have this guy on my staff because he has great makeup and he can help us win baseball games. One way or another, he can help us, starting or relieving.” — Gardenhire on Deduno’s chances of making the roster as a starter or reliever.
What’s next: The Twins have their first and only off-day of the spring on Monday before heading to Port Charlotte on Tuesday to face the Rays at 12:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is slated to make his second Grapefruit League start after his last scheduled start was washed away due to rain.
Injury update: Outfielder Aaron Hicks, who has been feeling discomfort in his right elbow while swinging the bat, is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who has been dealing with flu-like symptoms, is also on the list to travel on Tuesday but felt sick again during workouts on Sunday. … Reliever Matt Guerrier, who surgery in mid-August to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow, is expected to make his spring debut on Tuesday but it could come on the Minor League side.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospects Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer were among the 16 players sent to Minor League camp on Sunday in the first round of roster cuts before the Twins’ game against the Phillies at Hammond Stadium.
Buxton and Meyer, who are both not on the 40-man roster, were reassigned to Minor League camp along with right-handers Lester Oliveros and Yohan Pino; catchers Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch and Stuart Turner; outfielder Chris Rahl and infielder Miguel Sano, who is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in New York.
Seven players on the 40-man roster were also optioned, including right-hander Trevor May and left-handers Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra and Brooks Raley to Triple-A Rochester. First baseman Kennys Vargas was optioned to Double-A New Britain, while infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler were optioned to Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, hit .158 (3-for-19) with a homer, a double and two RBIs in seven games in his first extended stint in Grapefruit League play. Buxton, 20, hit his first homer on Saturday on a solo blast off Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchinson.
Meyer, who is ranked as the No. 28 overall prospect by MLB.com, made one appearance in Grapefruit League play, giving up one run on four hits with one strikeout in two innings. The 24-year-old also threw a scoreless inning in Friday’s B game against the Pirates.
Sending Sano to Minor League camp was more of a formality, as he’s scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday with Dr. David Altchek set to perform the operation. Sano is ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com, and could see time as a designated hitter late in the Minor League season if all goes well with his surgery.