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:
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.
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):
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.”
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.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins signed left-hander Rafael Perez to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the club announced on Thursday. Perez is set to arrive at the Lee County Sports Complex on Saturday.
Perez, 30, is coming off shoulder surgery in September and threw only 7 2/3 innings in 2012. But he’s healthy, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony and will be stretched out to start in Spring Training even though he’s never started in the big leagues in 338 career appearances with the Indians.
“He liked the possibility of stretching out and possibly starting for us, which is what he did throughout the Minors,” Antony said. “We just told him if he’s one of our best starters, we’re not going to turn a blind eye to anything. And if not, he’s fine in the bullpen.”
Before the shoulder injury, Perez was one of the better left-handed setup men in the American League, as he has a career 3.64 ERA with 268 strikeouts in 329 innings. He also posted a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings in ’10 and a 3.00 ERA in 63 innings in ’11.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with the signing, as he liked what he saw from him against his club. Perez has a career 1.89 ERA in 38 innings vs. Minnesota.
“He’s filthy,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got great stuff. He’s good out of the ‘pen but I like the idea of stretching him out too. So we’ll see what the best fit is for us and go from there. But he’s a quality pitcher and a big league guy.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins hosted their first official workouts of Spring Training today, as pitchers and catchers participated in several drills on the first day of camp.
It began early in the morning with a catchers meeting with manager Ron Gardenhire before he addressed all of the players currently in camp for the first official team meeting. Gardenhire said he kept it simple, as he plans on going through a more structured meeting once the rest of the team reports on Friday with the first full workouts set for Saturday morning.
After the meeting, the players broke up into different groups with 16 pitchers throwing bullpen sessions and the others playing catch. The pitchers also participated in pitchers fielding practice (PFP) drills and ran in the outfield at Hammond Stadium.
The 16 pitchers who threw bullpens were: Glen Perkins, Vance Worley, Cole De Vries, Rich Harden, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Bryan Augenstein, Esmerling Vasquez, Jared Burton, Alex Meyer, B.J. Hermsen, Kyle Gibson, Alex Burnett, Kevin Correia, Pedro Hernandez and Jose Berrios.
The nine catchers on the roster went over signs early in the morning with Gardenhire before catching bullpens and taking batting practice later in the day.
Here are some other notes:
– Harden felt encouraged by his first bullpen and says he hopes to stay on the same plan as all the other pitchers in camp but has to see how his shoulder holds up. He said he hasn’t been told if he’ll be stretched out to start but is open to starting or relieving.
– Infielders such as Jamey Carroll, Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe and outfielders such as Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni all took part in informal workouts even though position players aren’t required to report until Friday.
– Ron Gardenhire said he plans on using a few younger players in games to get ready for the World Baseball Classic such as Berrios (Puerto Rico), Andrew Albers (Canada) and Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico)
– Joe Mauer talked about preparing for both the World Baseball Classic and the upcoming season in this story.
– Make sure to check out my Instagram account (rhettbollinger) for photos throughout the spring and during the season. I also uploaded a few videos to my Twitter feed (@rhettbollinger)
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spring Training is officially here, as pitchers and catchers reported to the Lee County Sports Complex today.
The Twins didn’t have any issues with any of the pitchers or catchers reporting on time, but injured right-handers Nick Blackburn (wrist surgery) and Lester Oliveros (Tommy John surgery) were both sent to Minor League camp instead because they aren’t ready to pitch.
Several Twins pitchers participated in light workouts, including Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Liam Hendriks, Casey Fien, Tyler Robertson and Vance Worley. But official workouts don’t begin for Twins pitchers and catchers until Wednesday morning.
A handful of Twins position players were also at camp to get extra work in such as Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni.
I plan on being more active on the blog this spring, especially once Grapefruit League play begins, just like last Spring Training. Here’s an example of what I did last year once the games started with a short recap and some photos.
I’m also on Instagram (rhettbollinger) and will be taking plenty of photos throughout the season. Here’s one of Hammond Stadium from today.
Here are some other Twins notes and I’ll have a full notebook over on Twinsbaseball.com later today:
– Left-hander Scott Diamond might not be ready for Opening Day, as he’s still rebuilding arm strength after getting a bone chip removed from his elbow in December. He said his goal is to start on Opening Day but that he doesn’t want to push it because it’s such a long season.
– Right-hander Anthony Swarzak was apologetic when talking about the wrestling incident with teammates on Jan. 25 that caused him two fracture two ribs. He said he’ll be out another three weeks or so but expects to be ready for the start of the season.
– Reliever Jared Burton said there will be no restrictions on him this year unlike last year when the club was cautious with him because he was coming off shoulder surgery. He also said he was very happy about the two-year deal he signed this offseason to remain in Minnesota.
– Several Twins players said they feel like the vibe in the clubhouse is better this year than last season and that they feel like they have something to prove after the struggles of the last two seasons. But it’s just the first day of Spring Training so it’s easy for the players to be optimistic.
MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Anthony Swarzak fractured two ribs on his left side in a non-baseball activity on Jan. 25 and is expected to be out for a month, the Twins announced today.
The club did not announce how Swarzak injured his ribs but he’s expected to resume baseball activities in late February.
It’s bad timing for Swarzak, as Twins pitchers and catchers are set to report to the club’s Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. on Tuesday with the first workout set for the next morning.
Swarzak, who posted a 5.03 ERA in 96 2/3 innings last season, is expected to be in the running as the club’s long reliever this season.
The 27-year-old fared better in a relief role last year, as he had a 4.05 ERA in 73 1/3 innings in that role compared to an 8.10 ERA in 23 1/3 innings in five spot starts.
UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who said Swarzak injured himself while in Minnesota for TwinsFest. He was playing around and wrestling when he hurt his ribs. The Twins are hopeful he’ll still be healthy in time for the season.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer and reliever Glen Perkins — both native Minnesotans — were named to the provisional roster on Thursday for Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.
Mauer and Perkins will be playing in the World Baseball Classic for the first time. Japan won the previous two Classics in 2006 and ’09.
“Both of them are very well deserving and very good baseball players,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Joe is an obvious choice and with Perkins, I think it shows how far he’s come from the last few years until now. He’s just taking a run with his career so it’s real special. I’m sure he’s real proud.”
Additionally, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, a British Columbia native, was named to Team Canada’s roster. Catcher Drew Butera, who is of Italian descent, was also on the provisional roster for Team Italy.
“The popularity of baseball is growing in Canada, and I’m looking forward to playing in the World Baseball Classic again,” Morneau said. “There’s something special about representing everyone back home and proving that Canadian baseball is among the world’s best.”
Mauer is coming off an impressive season in which he led the American League with a .416 on-base percentage. The St. Paul, Minn., native played in a career-high 147 games and hit 10 homers, 31 doubles and drove in 85 runs.
Perkins has emerged as one of the best left-handed relievers in the AL the last two seasons. The Stillwater, Minn., native has a 2.52 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 132 innings over the last two years.
Team USA, managed by Joe Torre, will begin practice at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 1 and open its leg of the tournament against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix on March 8. Canada and Italy are the other two teams in its bracket. The finals are scheduled to be played at San Francisco’s AT&T Park on March 19.
Morneau, meanwhile, has gone through a normal offseason for the first time in at least three years, as he’s finally healthy. He hit .267 with 19 homers and 77 RBIs in 134 games last season, which was his highest total since playing 135 games in ’09.
“You won’t find a more proud Canadian than Justin Morneau and rightfully so,” Gardenhire said. “He’s loves doing that and being around his Canadian teammates and showing how proud they are and good they are at baseball. It’s a big deal for him.”
Morneau is joined on Canada’s provisional roster by Twins Minor League pitcher Andrew Albers. The left-hander posted a 3.75 ERA in 98 1/3 innings at Double-A New Britain last season.
Other Twins Minor Leaguers on the provisional rosters include infielder James Beresford (Australia), first baseman Chris Colabello (Italy), right-hander Shairon Martis (Netherlands), right-hander Tom Stuifbergen (Netherlands), right-hander Jose Berrios (Puerto Rico) and second baseman Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico).
Of that group, Berrios and Rosario are considered top prospects for the Twins. Rosario is ranked as the club’s No. 5 prospect while Berrios is ranked as the No. 10 prospect, according to MLB.com.
Click here for more World Baseball Classic coverage and to check out the full provisional rosters for all 16 teams.