Results tagged ‘ J.R. Towles ’

Game 23: Morneau, Hughes power Twins in rout

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins put on an offensive display in an 19-4 win over the Rays on Saturday at Hammond Stadium, as they had 18 hits, including five homers.

Justin Morneau hit two blasts while J.R. Towles, Luke Hughes and Chris Parmelee also homered.

What went right: Morneau was able to build on his double against the Yankees on Friday, as he homered twice off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Morneau went 2-for-2 with a walk to raise his batting average to .154 in 13 Grapefruit League games.

He hasn’t played first base since March 13, and there remains a chance he could start the season as the club’s designated hitter. He said after the game that he’s open to that possibility if it helps the team, but that he’d rather be the club’s starting first baseman.

Chris Parmelee continued to make his case to make the roster, as he made his first start in right field and homered. He’s now hitting .316 with three homers, a double and a triple in 14 games.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan wouldn’t rule out Parmelee breaking camp with the Twins, even though he’s yet to play at Triple-A. In that scenario, Parmelee would see action and first base and right field with Morneau mostly serving as DH.

Hughes also solidified his status on the roster, going 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs. He also played shortstop for the first time this spring.

Towles homered off Hellickson, and just missed another one in his next at-bat, hitting one off the left-field wall.

Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .333. Denard Span went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, Jamey Carroll went 3-for-4 and Josh Willingham went 1-for-3.

Left-hander Matt Maloney tossed two perfect innings with a strikeout to keep his ERA perfect at 0.00 this spring.

What went wrong: Not too much, but starter Jeff Gray did allow two runs on two hits, walk and a hit batter over two innings.

Gray started in place of right-hander Jason Marquis, who missed the start because he was home in New York attending to a family issue.

Closer Matt Capps allowed a run in his one inning of work, while right-hander Alex Burnett surrendered a run over two innings. Danny Valencia was the only Twins starter not to get a hit, but did walk twice and two score runs.

What they said: “It feels good,” Morneau said about his two homers. “It’d be nice to have it on Opening Day. It’s one of those things where you don’t necessarily need to hit home runs to know where you’re at. I think that ball that I hit to center yesterday that didn’t get out was as good a swing as any I’ve had all spring. And when you take a swing like that it kind of lets you know you’re getting close to where you want to be. Today was just a better day. It feels good and lets me know the hard work is starting to pay off.

What’s next: The Twins travel across the state to take on the Cardinals in Jupiter on Sunday with right-hander Nick Blackburn slated to make the start. Blackburn has been impressive this spring, as he’s yet to allow a run over seven innings in Grapefruit League play. Brian Duensing, Kyle Waldrop and Jared Burton are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Former Twins right-hander Kyle Lohse starts for St. Louis.

Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) threw a bullpen without any issues and is scheduled to start on Monday against the Rays. It will mark Baker’s first Grapefruit League start . … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) is likely to play in a Minor League game on Monday.

Games 2/3: Twins earn split vs. Rays, Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins split Sunday’s games with a 5-3 win over the Rays in Port Charlotte and an 8-3 loss to the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

It marked the Twins’ first split-squad action of the spring, as they don’t play in any more split-squads until March 16, when they host the Orioles and travel to face the Red Sox.

What went right: Both starters for the Twins — Francisco Liriano and Terry Doyle — tossed two scoreless innings in their Grapefruit League debuts. Liriano allowed one hit and walked one with two strikeouts against the Red Sox. And Doyle didn’t allow a hit and walked one with a strikeout against the Rays.

First baseman Chris Parmelee and catcher J.R. Towles both hit two-run homers to help lead the Twins to their win over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Alexi Casilla went 3-for-5 and Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 in that game.

Ben Revere paced the offense at JetBlue Park, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a leadoff single against Josh Beckett. Ray Chang went 1-for-1 with two walks, but left the 8-3 loss early after taking a knee the jaw in the seventh inning while trying to break up a double play.

What went wrong: Jason Bulger, who is trying to make the club as a reliever, struggled mightily against the Red Sox, allowing five runs on four walks and two hits — including a Lars Anderson grand slam — while recording just one out.

The Twins made several sloppy plays against the Red Sox, including an error by third baseman Sean Burroughs and an ill-advised throw home on the same play by Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Revere also made a baserunning gaffe late in the game.

What they said: “The first batter I was kind of all over the place but after that I kind of made some adjustments,” said Liriano, who threw 13 of his 25 pitches for strikes. “I was throwing the ball down and working the fastball better.”

What’s next: The Twins play their first and only night game of the spring on Monday, as they play host to the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium at 6:05 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised on FS North. Right-hander Jason Marquis is set to make his Grapefruit League debut with the Twins against Red Sox right-hander Clay Buhholz. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham — who didn’t play on Sunday — are expected to return to action Monday night.

Injury update: Right-hander Joel Zumaya elected to undergo Tommy John surgery later this month, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony. He hasn’t decided if he will rehab on his own or with the Twins. … Infielder Luke Hughes (strained right shoulder) made his Grapefruit League debut against the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 as a designated hitter. He also took infield practice and threw to first base without any issues. … Infielder Ray Chang took a knee to the jaw trying to break up a double play, but said after the game he was OK.

Day 7: Zumaya’s injury dampens day

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was supposed to be just another day of full workouts at the Lee County Sports Complex, but it all changed after just 13 pitches from right-hander Joel Zumaya.

Zumaya, throwing live batting practice for the first time this spring, felt discomfort in his right elbow and cut his throwing session short.

He’s scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow morning, and we should get the results by tomorrow night or Monday morning, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan.

The Twins are hopeful he just broke up some scar tissue — similar to what Joe Nathan experienced last year before he came back even stronger after a stint on the DL — but considering his injury history, there’s a reason to be concerned. Worst-case, Zumaya will need Tommy John surgery, which he’s never had done despite his lengthy list of injuries.

Speaking of Tommy John surgery, Twins GM Terry Ryan shared some positive news about prospect Kyle Gibson, who had the surgery done on Sept. 7. Ryan said he expects Gibson to be back in action this summer, which means he’s recovering at a good rate considering most pitchers need about 12 months to come back after the surgery.

“He’ll pitch this summer,” Ryan said. “I think we anticipate him pitching this summer. In fact, I don’t think, I know. It’s not anything different than the schedule.”

Other notes from today:
- The Twins are trying to get Ben Revere to bunt more this year, as he squared up to bunt just 15 times last year in 481 plate appearances, recording four hits and three sacrifices. He’s been working with Jerry White and Rod Carew to improve his technique.

- Former shortstop Trevor Plouffe is working out with the outfielders, as he prepares to become the club’s fourth outfielder. He’ll also get some work in the infield soon, but the Twins are more worried about getting him comfortable as a corner outfielder.

- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s impressed by Danny Valencia so far in camp, as he worked hard to improve his fielding. “He’s way better,” Gardenhire said. “He’s bent over, he’s going to the ball low. As he told me, that was an adjustment. That was a big adjustment for him, because he’s so used to standing up and going after a ball and having to go all the way back down to the ground.”

- Ryan praised both catcher J.R. Towles and infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce, as they were both former top prospects with the Astros and Pirates, respectively, before signing Minor League deals with the Twins this offseason. Towles will get a fair shake to battle Butera for the third catcher spot, while Pearce will get a shot as a utility player who could see time at first base, outfield and third base.

- Alexi Casilla is bothered by a sore calf, but has been participating in the workouts with no problems. Luke Hughes, who has a strained right shoulder, still can’t throw yet, but has been fielding grounders all over the infield.

Here’s video of Zumaya throwing to Justin Morneau shortly before his injury.

And here’s photos from today’s workouts, including of Zumaya before his injury:

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