March 2014

Game 8: Colabello’s big day leads Twins to win

BRADENTON, Fla. — Chris Colabello had an impressive day at the plate on Friday, as he picked up three hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth to lead the Twins to a 6-5 win over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.

Right-hander Vance Worley started for the Twins (5-3) but gave up five runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 innings.

What went right: Colabello started the game on the bench but ended up going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, including an RBI single off left-hander Brandon Mann in the ninth.

After going 3-for-3 on Friday, he’s now hitting .455/.625/.636 with two doubles and five walks in six games. He’s putting himself in the mix for a bench spot as a backup first baseman and right-handed hitting designated hitter.

Second baseman Jorge Polanco also saw action in both the B game at Pittsburgh’s Minor League complex and in the Grapefruit League game and impressed in both. He showed off solid defense at second, while providing an RBI double in the B game and going 1-for-2 with a run in the A game.

Brandon Waring, Danny Santana and Wilkin Ramirez also had RBI singles for the Twins, who scored all six of their runs in the final three innings.

The relievers also all fared well with Kris Johnson throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Sean Gilmartin throwing two scoreless frames. Ryan Pressly, Matt Hoffman, Aaron Thompson and Brooks Raley each threw a scoreless inning.

What went wrong: Worley had trouble locating, as he kept falling behind in counts and ended up giving up seven hits, including a double and a homer to Andrew McCutchen.

Worley wasn’t helped by a few infield singles, and said he was affected by the wind at McKechnie Stadium, but did give up those big hits to McCutchen, who was the winner of the NL MVP Award last season.

It’s still early in camp and it was just one subpar outing but it wasn’t a good showing from Worley, who is out of Minor League options and is trying to make the club as the fifth starter.

Top prospect Byron Buxton also went 0-for-3 in the B game and 0-for-2 in the A game, and is just 2-for-14 in Grapefruit League play. But Buxton, who is regarded as the top prospect in baseball, is still gaining invaluable experience despite his early struggles.

What they said: “At this point, it’s out of my control,” Worley said. “It’s going to be who the best is this spring, and that’s who it’s going to go to. I’m just worrying about getting outs and staying healthy.” — Worley on competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

What’s next: The Twins hit the road for a second straight day on Saturday, making the trip north to play the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT in Dunedin. Right-hander Phil Hughes, who joined the club on a three-year, $24 million deal this offseason, is set to make his second Grapefruit League start.

Injury update: Outfielder Aaron Hicks didn’t make the trip to Bradenton after feeling discomfort in his right elbow while swinging in the cage on Thursday morning. But Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Hicks is fine and is expected to return to action soon.

Game 7: Twins falter in first night game of spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins were hit hard by the Orioles, as they were done in by a pair of five-run innings in an 11-5 loss on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium.

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey couldn’t get through three frames, as he lasted 2 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits.

What went right: The Twins scored three runs in the second inning against Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who is expected to be Baltimore’s Opening Day starter.

But the Twins were helped by an error by right fielder Xavier Paul, who dropped a flyball, which allowed Josh Willingham to reach third base. Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Alex Presley each had RBI singles after error.

Minnesota didn’t score again until the seventh, when Eduardo Escobar laced an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Kennys Vargas.

Reliever Michael Tonkin tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, helping the case for the hard-throwing right-hander to make the club out of camp.

What went wrong: Pelfrey got through the first two innings with relative ease but struggled in the third inning.

He was chased after an RBI double from Quintin Berry with one out in the third, and was removed in favor of reliever Jared Burton. Burton fared even worse, allowing an RBI single to Paul before serving up a three-run blast to Johnny Monell.

Closer Glen Perkins loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, and gave up a run on an RBI groundout from Jemile Weeks. Perkins also forgot to cover first base on a grounder hit to Joe Mauer, who looked to throw to second but decided to go to first base, only to see Perkins wasn’t there.

Left-hander Scott Diamond, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation, didn’t help his case but was also hurt by a run-scoring throwing error by second baseman Jorge Polanco. Diamond ended up giving up five runs (one earned) on four hits over two innings.

What they said: “The biggest thing tonight was I didn’t throw enough strikes. I was kind of all over the place. But it’s still early. And physically, I felt good.” — Pelfrey on his outing.

What’s next: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is set to make his second Grapefruit League start for the Twins on Thursday, when they host the Cardinals at Hammond Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT. Nolasco threw two scoreless innings in his debut against the Rays on Sunday. Right-hander Adam Wainwright is slated to start for St. Louis.

Injury update: Shortstop Pedro Florimon has progressed to taking groundballs, as he took grounders with his teammates before the game. He wasn’t throwing across the diamond but was throwing home without any issues.

Games 4/5: Twins win twice in split-squad action

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins displayed plenty of offense on Monday, as they scored a combined 21 runs in their two wins in split-squad action against the Blue Jays and Orioles.

In their game against Toronto at Hammond Stadium, Kevin Correia tossed three hitless innings and Jermaine Mitchell homered and drove in four runs in a 12-2 win. Meanwhile, over in Sarasota, right-hander Vance Worley threw three scoreless frames and Wilkin Ramirez homered and had four RBIs in a 9-2 victory.

What went right: Correia was solid, as he walked just one batter and didn’t allow a hit over three scoreless innings.

It was the second straight strong outing from Correia early in spring, as he also didn’t allow a hit in two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson was also sharp, throwing three scoreless innings and both hits he gave up came on bloop singles. Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said it was the best he’s seen Gibson look all spring.

Mitchell, who is a non-roster invitee, had a game offensively, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a solo home run. Brian Dozier also went 2-for-3 with two doubles. Oswaldo Arcia showed patience, as he walked two times, while Deibinson Romero also walked twice.

Reliever Casey Fien also bounced back from giving up a homer in his last appearance, as he struck out one in a scoreless inning.

Over in Sarasota, Worley fared well, as he threw three scoreless innings against Baltimore. Sean Gilmartin, Lester Oliveros and Logan Darnell also each threw a scoreless inning against the Orioles.

Prospect Max Kepler gave the Twins the lead in the ninth with an RBI single before Ramirez launched a three-run homer. Shortstop Danny Santana also hit two triples and had three RBIs. Top prospect Byron Buxton hit a ground-rule double for his first extra-base hit this spring.

What went wrong: Not much, considering the Twins scored a combined 21 runs and gave up a total of just four runs in their two wins.

Left-hander Brian Duensing served up a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in their 12-2 win, but it was the only runs the Blue Jays would score.

Minnesota went just 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position against Toronto but it’s just nitpicking, as the Twins still scored 12 runs.

Over at Ed Smith Stadium, right-hander Trevor May gave up one run on thre hits over two innings while left-hander Aaron Thompson gave up one run on two hits in one inning of work. Thompson also made a fielding error.

What they said: “”The whole concept of this is, we want to get it right,” Steinbach said. “So as long as we can keep the pace, and it doesn’t slow it way down, I think it’s something that’s here and we’re going to make it work.” — Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach on expanded instant replay, which was used twice on Monday.

What’s next: The Twins hit the road on Tuesday, making the trip across the state to play the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Right-hander Phil Hughes, who joined the club on a three-year, $24 million deal this offseason, is set to make his Twins debut. Right-handers Samuel Deduno, Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin are also on the list to pitch for the Twins.

Injury update: Shortstop Pedro Florimon has progressed to hitting off a tee, and hopes to take grounders soon but said there’s no timetable for his return. He could still be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Game 3: Twins handed first Grapefruit League loss

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Ricky Nolasco tossed two scoreless innings in his Twins debut, and Oswaldo Arcia homered, but Anthony Swarzak gave up three runs in a 6-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Charlotte Sports Park.

The Twins (2-1) also saw a long home run from non-roster invitee Brandon Waring off the Tiki bar in left-center field but were done in by a two-run homer from Evan Longoria and a solo shot from Jerry Sands.

What went right: Nolasco was mostly solid in his debut, and pounded the strike zone with 16 of his 22 pitches going for strikes. He did give up two hard-hit doubles but was able to get of both innings without any damage.

Arcia also launched a solo shot in the fifth inning off left-hander Adam Liberatore after he was buzzed by two inside fastballs from Liberatore. It was an interesting at-bat for Arcia, who clearly won that battle after being brushed off the plate twice.

Waring also showed off impressive power with his mammoth blast off Santiago Garrido. Waring hit 25 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last year but also hit just .214 with a .317 on-base percentage.

Second base prospect Jorge Polanco came through with an RBI single in the ninth inning to score fellow top prospect Max Kepler.

What went wrong: Swarzak struggled in the third inning, giving up three runs on three hits with all three runs coming with two outs.

David DeJesus brought home the first run on a single to right field that allowed Desmond Jennings to score on a throwing error from Arcia in right field. Longoria then followed up with a two-run homer to left field off Swarzak.

Left-hander Brooks Raley fared well for two innings but did serve up a solo shot to Sands in the sixth.

Top pitching prospect Alex Meyer hit as high as 98 mph on the radar gun but only mixed in two curveballs and one changeup in his two innings of work so he wasn’t fooling Rays hitters. Meyer, ranked as the No. 28 overall prospect by MLB.com, ended up giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits with a strikeout. His second run was keyed by an inning-opening error from Waring at third base.

The Twins also went just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven runners on base.

What they said: “He killed that ball. He hit that ball a long ways. He hit it right to the Tiki Hut. That’s where I wanted to be all day.” — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Waring’s home run.

What’s next: The Twins have split-squad action for the first time this spring on Monday, as they host the Blue Jays at Hammond Stadium and travel to Sarasota to play the Orioles. Right-hander Kevin Correia will make the start against Toronto, and will be followed by right-hander Kyle Gibson and left-handers Brian Duensing and Caleb Thielbar. Right-hander Vance Worley will start vs. Baltimore, and will be followed by right-hander Trevor May and left-hander Sean Gilmartin.

Injury update: The Twins still haven’t set a date for Tommy John surgery for top prospect Miguel Sano but it’s likely to be performed by Dr. David Altchek, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony. Antony also didn’t rule out Sano serving as a DH late in the year or playing in the Arizona Fall League or Dominican Winter League. … Shortstop Pedro Florimon, who had his appendix taken out on Feb. 17, could start baseball activities this week, Antony said. Florimon, though, could still start the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Game 2: Twins win second straight over Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Parmelee hit a three-run homer and Brian Dozier added two hits to help lead the Twins to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday in front of a record crowd at renovated Hammond Stadium.

The Twins (2-0) scored three runs in the first inning against Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster before breaking the game open with Parmelee’s three-run blast in the fifth off former Twins left-hander Jose Mijares.

What went right: Dozier showed off his power he displayed last season, launching a double off the left-field wall in the first inning off Webster. Joe Mauer, making his Grapefruit League debut, followed up by bringing home Dozier with an RBI single to right field.

The Twins scored two more times in the first with Trevor Plouffe drawing a bases loaded walk before Kennys Vargas added a sacrifice fly.

But Parmelee had the biggest hit of the afternoon, launching a three-run blast off Mijares in the fifth inning that landed deep into the new drink rail seats in right field.

Josmil Pinto also proved that his back is healthy, as he caught without any issues and roped a double down the left-field line in the fifth. Josh Willingham and Eduardo Escobar also both doubled for the Twins.

Closer Glen Perkins also threw a scoreless fourth inning in his Grapefruit League debut. Fellow relievers Michael Tonkin, Jared Burton, Matt Hoffman, Deolis Guerra and Kris Johnson also each threw a scoreless frame.

Center fielder Aaron Hicks also showed off his impressive arm, getting an outfield assist in the second inning, when Garin Cecchini tried to stretch a single into a double.

What went wrong: Left-hander Scott Diamond was mostly solid in his two innings of work but did give up a solo homer to Daniel Nava in the first inning.

Diamond struggled with the long ball last season, giving up 21 in 131 innings. But Diamond did fare well once he got hitters down 0-2, as he retired all four hitters who reached that count with two strikeouts.

Right-hander Ryan Pressly gave up a run in the third inning on a single from Jonathan Herrera after Brock Holt singled and stole second base. But Pressly showed good velocity his first time out and did strike out Grady Sizemore looking.

What they said: “It was a nice little ballgame again. [Pitching coach Rick Anderson] and I were talking and pitching wasn’t as sharp as yesterday. There were a few guys that were sharp but we were up in the zone quite a bit. So that was just one of those days. It was our first day at home so our guys might’ve been overthrowing a bit.” — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

What’s next: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is set to make his Twins debut against the Rays in Port Charlotte on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Nolasco joined the club this offseason on a four-year, $49 million deal. Right-hander Alex Cobb is set to start for the Rays in the first meeting between the two teams this spring at Charlotte Sports Park.

Injury update: The biggest news at Twins camp on Saturday was that third baseman Miguel Sano will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. It’s an unfortunate setback for Sano, who will need eight months of rehab.

BREAKING: Sano to undergo Tommy John surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospect Miguel Sano will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will miss the entire 2014 season, the Twins confirmed Saturday.

Sano felt something in his right elbow while making a throw in Thursday’s intrasquad game, and an MRI exam on Friday revealed a high-grade partial tear of his UCL. After consulting with team doctors, it was determined that the third baseman needed Tommy John surgery.

Sano, ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com, will miss the rest of the season, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony. The timetable for position players having Tommy John surgery is eight months instead of the usual 12 months for a pitcher.

“We believe the right thing is to go ahead with the surgery,” Antony said. “I still need to confer with his agent to get all the logistics regarding that but basically from everything I’ve gathered from our doctors and trainers, it’s an eight-month process from start to finish. He’ll hopefully be doing some hitting things four months after the surgery. We hope to have the surgery sometime within in the next month. He’ll have plenty of time to get ready for next year’s Spring Training.”

Sano, 20, said he’s scheduled to fly back to the Twin Cities and have the surgery next week but Antony said it still hasn’t been decided where or when Sano will undergo the operation.

Sano, who had a chance to make his big league debut this year, was disappointed about missing the season but was confident that the injury won’t hamper his career.

“When I come back, I’m the same player,” Sano said.

Sano was originally diagnosed with a strained UCL this offseason after playing in just two games in his native Dominican Republic in the Dominican Winter League. But after consulting with Twins doctors and Dr. James Andrews, it was determined Sano needed only rest and rehabilitation instead of surgery.

Antony explained that if Sano had the surgery in November, he would’ve missed most of the Minor League season, so the Twins were hoping he’d be able to play the whole season after rehabbing this offseason. He added that Sano didn’t reinjure his elbow, as the MRI results were the same from November, but that it just didn’t get any better.

“He might’ve been ready at the tail end of the regular season but if you can avoid surgery, any time you have that chance, he might not have missed any of the season,” Antony said. “So do you want to be back for the last month of the season or possibly play the entire season? It was our doctors and Dr. Andrews who agreed that it was the right course of action. So we don’t have any regrets on how it was handled.”

Sano, who hit a combined .280/.382/.610 with 35 homers, 30 doubles and 103 RBIs in 123 games split between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain last season, was cleared to throw at the start of Spring Training, and didn’t have any issues until Thursday’s intrasquad game.

The Twins were hopeful that it was just normal soreness or inflammation but the MRI exam on Friday confirmed their worst fear that the top prospect needs season-ending surgery.

“It’s disappointing for the organization but more disappointing for the player,” Antony said. “He’s a 20-year-old who is arguably one of the top five prospects in the game. Everybody has to deal with adversity in their career so this is a slight setback for him. But hopefully he can get this taken care of and come back strong and he’ll be back in big league camp next year at 21.”

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