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.
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.
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.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Pelfrey tossed two scoreless innings to help lead the Twins to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams on Friday at JetBlue Park.
Chris Colabello added two RBIs on a two-run double in fourth inning, while Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia each had an RBI.
What went right: Pelfrey looked sharp in his first outing, allowing just one hit and throwing 13 of his 20 pitches for strikes.
Left-hander Brian Duensing also turned in a perfect third inning with a strikeout, while right-hander Samuel Deduno tossed two scoreless frames. Deduno also struck out three and walked one. Left-handers Caleb Thielbar and Aaron Thompson also each threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
Plouffe opened the scoring with a single in the fourth inning to bring home Brian Dozier, who led off the inning with a single. Plouffe scored on a single to right field from Arcia that was misplayed by right fielder Bryce Brentz before Arcia came home on a single from Wilkin Ramirez.
The Twins added three more runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Arcia and a two-run double from Colabello. Danny Santana added an RBI single in the seventh before reaching on a run-scoring error in the ninth.
The Twins also looked good defensively, with Plouffe turning a nice double play and Jason Bartlett making a diving play at shortstop.
What went wrong: Not much, but right-hander Casey Fien gave up a solo homer to Brentz in the sixth inning. But given his success the last two years, Fien is a lock for the bullpen this year and is expected to be one of the club’s top setup men along with right-hander Jared Burton.
The Twins also struck out 13 times on the afternoon with Jason Kubel going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Alex Presley, Kennys Vargas, Bartlett and Colabello also struck out twice.
Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who was acquired from the Braves in the trade that sent Ryan Doumit to Atlanta, gave up a run in the ninth inning, allowing two hits and a walk.
What they said: “I don’t know what I want to get [my time between pitches] to but I want to get through an inning without the outfielder or infielder’s feet going numb. So I’m sure they’ll appreciate that, especially in April and May in Minnesota. I don’t know what a good time is personally but I definitely need to be quicker. It’s something that I’m continuing to try to work at and get better at.” — Pelfrey on improving his tempo this season.
What’s next: Left-hander Scott Diamond is set to start the home opener for the Twins at renovated Hammond Stadium against the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Diamond, who is looking to bounce back after posting a 5.43 ERA in 24 starts last year, is competing for the final spot in the rotation along with Vance Worley, Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson. Right-hander Allen Webster is slated to start for Boston in the second straight meeting between the two clubs.
Injury update: Third baseman Miguel Sano is being checked out by doctors this afternoon after feeling something in his elbow on a throw during Thursday’s intrasquad game. Sano is expected to be held out of action the next few days even if the injury is minor.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospect Miguel Sano was originally on the list to play in today’s Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox, but was a late scratch, and now we know why.
Sano felt something in his right elbow while making a throw in yesterday’s intrasquad game, and is scheduled to have his elbow checked this afternoon.
Sano, who was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow this offseason, was cleared to throw heading into camp. He didn’t have any issues until Thursday, when he had to make a throw across his body on a slow grounder hit by catcher Kurt Suzuki.
The Twins remain hopeful the injury isn’t serious but won’t know more until Sano gets his elbow checked out on Friday. Sano is currently ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com
“He made that throw coming in off-balance and he had a little bit of soreness and will get it checked out this afternoon,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “When he came into the dugout, they asked him because that was one of the throws we were going to keep an eye on. You can do it in workouts all you want but until you get into game action and react and make a play. They asked him how it felt, and he said, ‘I felt it a little bit on that one.’ So they took him out of the game and he came in today was still a little sore.”
Antony added the Twins hoped Sano’s elbow issue wouldn’t flare up this spring but now that it has, they’re doing their due diligence to get it checked out.
“It’s not anything that’s a complete utter shock,” Antony said. “But unfortunately he felt a little something and we have to check it out and see where it’s at. They’ll take a look at it and see how it is, and we might have to make a decision sooner or later.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After 10 days of workouts, the Twins finally saw some game action on Thursday with an eight-inning intrasquad game at Hammond Stadium on Thursday.
Right-handers Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia started opposite each other, and both fared well by throwing two scoreless innings.
Hughes, who joined the club on a three-year, $24 million deal this offseason, threw two scoreless innings with four strikeouts — including strikeouts of top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Hughes, whose fastball was at about 91-92 mph, was pleased with the results, as he threw 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes. He also said he worked in seven or eight curveballs, which is important for him, as he’s scrapping his slider this year in favor of his curveball and a cutter.
“I was just trying to attack the zone,” Hughes said. “It was good to see some live hitters for the first time so that was a positive. … To be able to be in a game setting and see some hitters and some swings was good. Throwing strikes and staying within my mechanics was the biggest thing.”
Correia, was the club’s most consistent starter last season with a 4.18 ERA in 31 starts, didn’t allow a hit, striking out one and walking one, while throwing 23 pitches with 13 going for strikes.
“It was good,” Correia said. “I’ve thrown to some live hitters but it isn’t the same as being in a game situation and trying to make some pitches. It was a good process in the step of getting ready.”
Here are some more notes from today’s intrasquad:
— Catcher Josmil Pinto was cleared to play in the game after being limited by a sore back this week. Pinto caught with right-hander Anthony Swarzak on the mound, and walked in his lone plate appearance.
— Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez fared well, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer off right-hander Lester Oliveros. Second baseman James Beresford also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Shortstop Danny Santana and right fielder Max Kepler also had two hits each.
— Third baseman Miguel Sano, who suffered a strained elbow this offseason, made several nice plays at third base and had no issues throwing during Thursday’s intrasquad game. He went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout while reaching on a throwing error from shortstop Danny Santana. Fellow top prospect Byron Buxton went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.
Also, on a side note, the blog will be very active once Grapefruit League play starts tomorrow against the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET at JetBlue Park. I’ll be doing daily roundups, which will be similar in style to last year’s with photos as well.
Here are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken in the last 10 days while the Twins have been working out at the Lee County Sports Complex.
MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Pelfrey is staying in Minnesota.
The Twins have agreed to re-sign the free-agent right-hander on a two-year deal, a Major League source confirmed Saturday night. The deal, which is reportedly worth $11 million with up to $3.5 million in incentives, was first reported by CBSSports.com.
The Twins, however, have not officially announced the deal, as Pelfrey still needs to undergo a physical. The deal is expected to become official next week.
Pelfrey, 29, posted a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts with the Twins last season after joining the club on a one-year deal worth $4 million. The right-hander, who was had Tommy John surgery the previous May, struck out 101, walked 53 and gave up 13 homers in 152 2/3 innings.
Pelfrey was better in the second half of the season with a 3.25 ERA in five June starts and a 3.60 ERA in six August starts but faltered in September with a 7.45 ERA in four outings.
Advanced metrics such as Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like based on strikeouts, walks and homers allowed, also painted a rosier picture of Pelfrey. He had a 3.99 FIP, as he still had strong peripheral stats and was hurt by a .337 batting average on balls on play (BABIP). The league average BABIP is roughly .300.
Pitchers also tend to perform better in their second year back from Tommy John surgery, as their command begins to improve.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made it no secret at the Winter Meetings that he wanted Pelfrey back in his rotation. Pelfrey, who is represented by Scott Boras, is now the third free-agent addition to the rotation, joining Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes.
“I love the guy,” Gardenhire said at the Winter Meetings. “He’s good for the clubhouse. He came a long ways last year off his surgery. We like the young man an awful lot and he can help us win baseball games.”
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Could the Twins be adding another starting pitcher to their rotation via free agency?
Despite already signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to multi-year deals, the Twins reportedly met with right-hander Bronson Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross, on the first day of the Winter Meetings today.
But Arroyo confirmed to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that no deals are close, and the Angels and Phillies are also interested in his services.
The Twins have yet to make a formal offer to Arroyo, but the situation is definitely worth monitoring. It’s still unclear if the Twins are ready to hand out another multi-year deal after spending a combined $73 million on Nolasco and Hughes, but it’s another sign the Twins aren’t done trying to fix a rotation that posted the worst ERA in the Majors last season.
I’ll have more as the day goes along here, as we’re set to meet with general manager Terry Ryan at about 5 p.m. CT.
MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Gardenhire will remain manager of the Twins and is expected to receive a two-year deal, according to a Major League source.
The Twins are officially set to make the announcement on Monday at a 2:30 p.m. press conference at Target Field with general manager Terry Ryan. The Twins are also expected to announce the entire coaching staff will return as well.
Gardenhire, who has managed the team since 2002, is the second-longest tenured manager in the Majors behind only Angels skipper Mike Scioscia.
He led Minnesota to six division titles in a nine-year span before the Twins fell into hard times over the last three years. The Twins have lost 95-plus games in each of the last three seasons, which cast doubt on Gardenhire’s future, as his contract expired at the end of the 2013 season.
But given Gardenhire’s overall success in his 12 years at the helm and his reputation around the league as a top manager, the Twins decided to stick with their longtime skipper.
He was named the 2010 American League Manager of the Year, and finished second in the balloting for that award in ’03, ’04, ’06, ’08 and ’09 with a third-place finish in ’02.
He has a career 998-947 record, as he fell just two victories short of win No. 1,000 this year. The Twins went just 8-20 in September en route to a 66-96 record, which was identical to the ’12 season.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he expects to talk about his future with general manager Terry Ryan after Sunday’s season finale against the Indians.
Gardenhire, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, said a decision still hasn’t been reached on whether he’ll back next season. But he reiterated an announcement will be made before the postseason begins on Tuesday.
“We’re still discussing it — we’re still talking like we always do,” Gardenhire said. “Whatever happens, he’s going to make a decision and go with it. And I’m going to have to live with it one way or another. That’s where we’re at.”
Gardenhire, who is the second-longest tenured manager in the Majors behind the Angels’ Mike Scioscia, said he hasn’t thought about other managerial jobs, as his preference remains to stay with the Twins. He’s been the manager of the Twins since 2002, and led them to six division titles before suffering through three straight 90-plus loss seasons, including this year.
“I like where I’m at,” Gardenhire said. “I’d rather stay here. If it doesn’t work out here then you start thinking about other stuff. But I enjoy it here. It’s as good as it gets for me.”
Gardenhire added that he’s not thinking about Sunday’s game against the Indians like it’s his last game as Twins manager.
“I don’t worry about it,” Gardenhire said. “It’s not something I can control. I come in here like everybody else. It’s going to an emotional day but that’s because it’s the last day of the season. It’s not because of my situation. It’s not in the equation. I don’t think of it that way.”