Results tagged ‘ Nick Blackburn ’

Twins make first roster cuts of Spring Training

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins made their first roster cuts of Spring Training this morning, as they reassigned right-handed pitchers Bryan Augenstein, Nick Blackburn, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Esmerling Vasquez to Minor League camp.

Blackburn, who underwent surgery on his right wrist in January, and Oliveros, who had Tommy John surgery in August, are both currently out with injuries. Blackburn is expected to return in May while Oliveros is likely out until August, but neither pitcher is on the 40-man roster.

Meyer, who was acquired in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals, was the most impressive pitcher of the group before being reassigned. Meyer, ranked as the No. 40 overall prospect by MLB.com, tossed five scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play with three strikeouts and two walks.

Meyer, 23, is expected to start the season at Double-A New Britain after posting a combined 2.86 ERA with 139 strikeouts and 45 walks in 129 innings split between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac last season.

Vasquez, who had a 5.68 ERA in six starts with the Twins last season, had a 6.75 ERA in 2 2/3 innings in Spring Training. He’s not on the 40-man roster and is expected to start at Triple-A Rochester.

Augenstein, meanwhile, made only one appearance in Spring Training. The non-roster invite, who pitched for Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate last season, gave up a run in one inning against the Pirates on Feb. 25.

Also, here are the lineups for the Pirates and Twins with Oswaldo Arcia set to make his debut after missing the first 15 games with a strained intercostal muscle.

Pirates (4-10)
1. Starling Marte, LF
2. Travis Snider, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
5. Brandon Inge, 3B
6. Clint Robinson, DH
7. Ivan DeJesus Jr., 2B
8. Tony Sanchez, C
9. Jordy Mercer, SS

LHP Jonathan Sanchez (Mike Zagurski, Stolmy Pimental, Vic Black, Brooks Brown, Bryan Morris)

Twins (9-6)
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
3. Josh Willingham, DH
4. Ryan Doumit, C
5. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
6. Darin Mastroianni, LF
7. Jeff Clement, 1B
8. Brian Dozier, 2B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

RHP Liam Hendriks (Alex Burnett, Jared Burton, Pedro Hernandez, Luis Perdomo, Caleb Thielbar, Tim Wood)

Twins outright Blackburn, Nishioka

OAKLAND — The Twins outrighted struggling right-hander Nick Blackburn to Triple-A Rochester, and will recall a starting pitcher on Tuesday — likely Liam Hendriks — to start on Wednesday against the A’s. In addition Minnesota also outrighted infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who will remain on the Rochester roster.

Blackburn was removed from the 40-man roster after having a rough time with the Twins, posting a 7.39 ERA in 19 outings. His last start came Friday, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.

He’ll be a starter in Rochester, and Twins assistant general Rob Antony said Blackburn will have to pitch well to be back up with the club again this season, as he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.

“I talked to Nick today, let him know and told him, ‘Go down there, try and get straightened out and when September comes we’ll evaluate the situation,’” Antony said. “There’s no guarantees he’ll come back. We could select him and bring him back if we want, or he could not be back this year — whatever we think is the right situation when the time comes.”

Blackburn is still owed $5.5 million next season, and will have to earn a spot with the club, according to Antony.

“As far as next year goes, he’s still a member of our organization,” Antony said. “I suspect, unless we trade him in the offseason, he’ll be back in spring training trying to win a job on the club.”

With Blackburn out, the Twins need a starter for Wednesday, and it’s expected to be Hendriks, who last pitched for Rochester on Friday. The 23-year-old right-hander has been impressive with the Red Wings with a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts but it hasn’t translated with the Twins, as evidenced by his career 6.71 ERA in 12 outings.

Nishioka, who is also owed $3 million next year, struggled in three games with the Twins this year, going 0-for-12 with two errors and several other misplays in the field.

“I’m sure it’s a pride thing for any player,” Antony said. “No. 1, it’s tough to be in the minor leagues; but No. 2, when you’re taken off the major league roster and 29 other clubs pass on you, it tells you you’re not doing very well.”

The team now has 38 players on its 40-man roster.

Twins option Blackburn, purchase Fien’s contract

DETROIT — Nick Blackburn’s yearlong struggles caused the Twins to option him to Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday after another poor outing against the Tigers on Tuesday. Right-hander reliever Casey Fien’s contract was purchased from Triple-A to take Blackburn’s’ place, and he’ll join the Twins in time for Thursday’s game in Detroit.

Blackburn lasted just four innings against the Tigers on Tuesday, allowing six runs on eight hits, including two homers. It dropped the right-hander to 4-5 with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts this season.

It’s been a tough year for Blackburn, who has thrown just one quality start and hasn’t gone longer than six innings in any of his outings. He’s also battled injuries, as he missed time with tightness in his shoulder in April and was placed on the disabled list with a strained left quad in mid-May.

It’s been a continuation of last year, as the sinkerballer has a 7.61 ERA over his last 24 starts dating back to June 27, 2011. Blackburn pitched well early last year — he had a 3.15 ERA through his first 15 starts — but his 7.61 ERA since then is the highest among Major League starters.

Blackburn, who signed a four-year, $14-million extension before the 2010 season, has a career 4.79 ERA in 139 games, including 131 starts over six seasons.

Fien, meanwhile, had a 4.30 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 46 innings with Rochester. He has some big league experience, posting an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings over parts of two seasons with Detroit from 2009-10.

Game 11: Morneau feels fine after playing first base

NEW YORK — A day after playing first base for the first time this season, Justin Morneau said he felt just fine today.

Morneau, though, was held out of the lineup against the Yankees because of his struggles against CC Sabathia, as he’s a career .140 hitter (6-for-40) against the left-hander. Luke Hughes is making his first start of the season at first base in his place.

But Morneau said he plans on gradually playing more first base as the season goes along to eventually be back to being the club’s regular first baseman.

“I don’t know what the schedule is,” Morneau said. “It’s not going to be here on out the rest of the way. Hopefully this is the first step to being back out there every day or almost every day. The ultimate goal is always to be healthy enough to play every day. However many days over there, I’m not sure, but hopefully it’s more over there than DHing.”

In other news, left-hander Glen Perkins, who has inflammation in his left forearm, is set to meet with team physician Dr. Dan Buss early tomorrow, and if all goes well he could fly to New York to join the team in time for tomorrow’s game.

Right-hander Nick Blackburn (shoulder stiffness) is also making progress, and is on track to play catch tomorrow and throw a bullpen on Wednesday.

Right-hander Scott Baker also underwent elbow surgery at 2 p.m. in New York today. I’ll have more after the game.

Twins (3-7)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Ryan Doumit, C
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Trevor Plouffe, RF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1, 10.00 ERA, 6.11 FIP, 10 IP, 6 K, 5 BB)

Yankees (5-5)
1. Derek Jeter, DH
2. Nick Swisher, 1B
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Andruw Jones, RF
6. Curtis Granderson, CF
7. Eduardo Nunez, SS
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Chris Stewart, C

LHP CC Sabathia (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 12 IP, 15 K, 5 BB)

Game 10: Morneau at first base, batting fifth

NEW YORK — Justin Morneau is making his first start of the season at first base tonight against the Yankees, and is also batting fifth for just the second time since 2007.

Twins manager Ron Garenhire approached Morneau before the game about batting fifth with Josh Willingham batting cleanup, and Morneau told him he was also ready to play first. So Gardenhire decided it was a good time to get Morneau at first, although they haven’t plotted when he’ll play first again.

“We’re just going to go day by day with it,” Gardenhire said. “It’s not going to be starting every day right now, do it and let him go back to DH. What I do like about it it gives me options to give Joe Mauer a day to DH and nothing in the field. Right now, he just goes and plays first base but it is still nine innings on defense the whole package.”

There was also plenty of other news today, including the fact that left-hander Glen Perkins stayed back in Minnesota with what general manager Terry Ryan called inflammation in his left forearm. Perkins is still day to day, and there remains a chance he’ll avoid the disabled list.

Right-hander Nick Blackburn will also miss his next start, as right-hander Anthony Swarzak will pitch in his place Thursday in New York. But Blackburn will throw bullpens on Friday and Sunday with the hope of returning on Tuesday.

Jason Marquis also threw a bullpen and said he’s ready to make his start on Wednesday against the Yankees. It’ll mark the first-ever start at Yankee Stadium for the veteran right-hander.

Twins (2-7)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Ryan Doumit, C
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Clete Thomas, RF
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Carl Pavano (1-0, 5.93 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 13 2/3 IP, 4 K, 2 BB)

Yankees (5-4)
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. Robinson Cano, 2B
5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Raul Ibanez, DH
8. Russell Martin, C
9. Brett Gardner, LF

RHP Freddy Garcia (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 6.98 FIP, 4 2/3 IP, 3 K, 3 BB)

Games 29/30: Twins earn split vs. Red Sox, Blue Jays

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins earned a split in split-squad action on Friday with a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays in Dunedin and a 9-7 loss to the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.

The Twins host the Pirates on Saturday with right-hander Anthony Swarzak getting his second start of the spring.

What went right: Both starting pitchers fared well, as Nick Blackburn allowed two runs on five hits over five innings against the Red Sox, while Liam Hendriks gave up just one hit and a walk over five scoreless frames against the Blue Jays.

Blackburn also appears primed to start the home opener against the Angels on April 9, as Scott Baker doesn’t seem likely to be ready to start the season because of his battles with right elbow tendonitis.

Hendriks also established himself as the front-runner to start the club’s third game against the Orioles on April 8, as it doesn’t appear that Jason Marquis will be ready to go because he’s been back home tending to a family issue for more than a week.

On the offensive side, Chris Parmelee homered against the Blue Jays, and continues to make a strong case to be Minnesota’s starting first baseman come Opening Day.

And Justin Morneau had another solid day at the plate, going 1-for-3 with an RBI double while serving as designated hitter yet again. Joe Mauer also went 2-for-3 with a walk to raise his average to .367.

What went wrong: The Twins didn’t exactly pitch well against the Red Sox, as both Jeff Gray and Brian Duensing gave up three runs.

The Twins also made some sloppy plays in the field, including a boneheaded play in the seventh that allowed a run to score from second on a bunt.

Luke Hughes cooled off a bit by going 0-for-5 against Boston, but is still hitting .339 in Grapefruit League play.

What they said: “Figure the math,” Anderson said about Blackburn’s first start this season. “Five days after that, when is he throwing again? It’s the home opener.”

What’s next: Right-hander Anthony Swarzak is set to make his second Grapefruit League start on Sunday against the Pirates at Hammond Stadium. Swarzak, who has a 3.86 ERA this spring, is being stretched out in case Scott Baker and Jason Marquis aren’t ready to start the season. Right-hander Kevin Correia starts for Pittsburgh.

Injury update: Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) returned to the lineup on Friday, and went 0-for-3. … Right-hander Kyle Waldrop will be placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the season. He’s suffering from a strained right elbow. … Right-hander Scott Baker is set to pitch in a Minor League game against the Red Sox’s Triple-A club on Saturday. … An MRI taken on Alexi Casilla’s right knee revealed only inflammation. He’s day to day.

Blackburn appears set to start home opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After tossing five innings against the Red Sox, Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn said he wasn’t sure when he’ll make his next start.

But pitching coach Rick Anderson said Blackburn’s next outing will be against Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Wednesday, and strongly hinted that he’ll start the home opener against the Angels on April 9 at Target Field.

“Figure the math,” Anderson said. “Five days after that, when is he throwing again? It’s the home opener.”

With Blackburn apparently scheduled to start in the home opener, the Twins are getting close to setting their rotation. Right-hander Carl Pavano will start on Opening Day in Baltimore on April 6 and left-hander Francisco Liriano appears set to start in the club’s second game.

The third starter is up in the air, but right-hander Liam Hendriks is the front-runner to make that start, as Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) and Jason Marquis (family issue) aren’t likely to be ready to open the season. The Twins don’t need a fifth starter because of the off-day on April 10.

Blackburn didn’t turn his prettiest outing of the spring on Friday, but he was happy he was able to make an in-game adjustment to bounce back after a shaky first few innings against the Red Sox.

He gave up five hits — including a two-run homer to Cody Ross in the second frame — and walked two, but got out of a few key games and settled down after the third.

Through four Grapefruit League outings, Blackburn has a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts and four walks over 16 innings.

“Today was as ugly as it’s been,” Blackburn said. “I was able to do some damage control but most importantly I made an adjustment during a game. Even though this is a spring training game, you still have adrenaline facing a lineup like that, and the fact that you can make an adjustment in the game was a big thing for me right now. I don’t think I could have done that a couple years ago.”

Game 10: Twins lineup vs. split-squad Yankees

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are rolling out their expected Opening Day lineup against the Yankees today at Hammond Stadium.

One Twins pitcher joked that it didn’t surprise him that manager Ron Gardenhire waited until the club played the Yankees to unveil his “A” lineup. So it’ll certainly be interesting to see if they can put some runs on the board, as the offense has mostly struggled so far this spring.

The game, which will be televised on FS North and MLB.TV at 12:05 p.m. CT, will also be a good test for right-hander Nick Blackburn, who is making his Grapefruit League debut.

Blackburn has looked good so far in two “B” games — throwing three scoreless innings against the Red Sox — so we’ll see how he does against a Yankees lineup that includes veterans such as Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez.

UPDATE: That didn’t last long. The Twins announced that Denard Span is out with neck stiffness. Joe Benson replaced him and is batting eighth. Ben Revere moves up to leadoff. The updated lineup is below:

Twins (4-5)
1. Ben Revere, LF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Joe Benson, CF
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Nick Blackburn

Twins reserves: Drew Butera, Dan Rohlfing, Steve Pearce, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Trevor Plouffe, Wilkin Ramirez, Matt Carson

Twins pitchers: Brian Duensing, Jeff Manship, Jason Bulger, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise, Aaron Thompson, Matt Capps

Yankees (4-4)
1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Nick Swisher, RF
4. Raul Ibanez, DH
5. Francisco Cervelli, C
6. Jorge Vaqzuez 3B,
7. Jayson Nix 2B,
8. Brandon Laird 1B,
9. Ramiro Pena, SS

RHP Phil Hughes

Game 9: Valencia powers Twins to victory

BRADENTON, Fla. — Danny Valencia helped the Twins get out of their offensive slump with a three-run homer to lead the Twins to a 4-2 win over the Pirates on Saturday at McKechnie Field.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Twins, who improved to 4-5 in Grapefruit League play.

What went right: Valencia looked good at the plate, hitting an opposite-field double in the fifth inning off Jo-Jo Reyes before crushing a three-run shot off Reyes in the sixth.

The homer was set up by a two-out walk from Josh Willingham and a single from Justin Morneau. Morneau, who served as designated hitter, went 1-for-4 at the plate, including a deep fly ball to center field in the first. Willingham went 1-for-2 with a walk.

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of right-hander Terry Doyle, who struggled. Jared Burton, Matt Maloney, Kyle Waldrop, Lester Oliveros and P.J. Walters each tossed a scoreless inning.

“They’re doing fine,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the relievers in camp. “We’re just looking at different guys. We see some guys we like a little bit. We like their arms. We see the ball coming out, but still, they’ve only been out once or twice. I think, let’s give them a couple more times out and see where we’re at.”

What went wrong: Doyle didn’t have his best stuff, as he allowed two runs on seven hits — including three doubles — and a walk over 2 2/3 innings.

Doyle, a Rule 5 Draft pick who must remain on the active roster all season or be offered back to the White Sox, didn’t exactly help his case to make the club. It was also Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s first time seeing him pitch.

And while Valencia certainly had a good day offensively, the rest of the Twins combined for just four hits — singles from Willingham, Morneau, Rene Rivera and Alexi Casilla.

Also, despite 14 hits, including a homer from Oswaldo Arcia and two doubles from Chris Parmelee, the Twins also lost 8-2 in a “B” game to the Pirates earlier in the day. Scott Baker pitched in two innings, but recorded just four outs, surrendering six runs (five earned) on six hits, including a two-run homer by Matt Hague.

“Baker was not very good at all,” Gardenhire said. “He got beat around pretty good. He threw the ball. We’ll see how he does from there. Maybe that “B” game format, he might need a little more preparation than that riding the bus and all that trying to pitch. He didn’t react well to that.”

What they said: “We had two good ballgames today,” Gardenhire said. “We had 13 or 14 hits in the first one, then out here today we came up with some big hits too. A better day.”

What’s next: Right-hander Nick Blackburn is set to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the split-squad Yankees at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium. Blackburn has tossed three scoreless innings in two “B” games against the Red Sox this spring. Brian Duensing, Liam Hendriks, Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise and Deolis Guerra are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Right-hander Phil Hughes is slated to start for the Yankees.

Day 11: Twins hold simulated game, “B” game

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a busy day at the Lee County Sports Complex, as the Twins held their first simulated game of the spring this morning before hosting the Red Sox in a “B” game at Hammond Stadium.

In the simulated game, right-handers Jason Marquis and Jeff Gray each pitched, while hitters such as Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee and Alexi Casilla batted with different scenarios laid out for the defense.

It allowed Twins defenders to work on relay throws, positioning and decision-making while also allowing the hitters to face live pitching.

The big scare was Denard Span running into the center-field fence, but he said he was OK. But I’ll definitely check with him tomorrow to make sure he’s still doing OK.

As for the “B” game, the Twins picked up their first victory with a 6-5 win over the Red Sox.

Twins right-handers Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn got through without any issues, and were followed by Jeff Manship, Liam Hendriks, Jason Bulger, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise and Deolis Guerra. Of the group, only Gutierrez really struggled, allowing two runs on hit and three walks while only recording two outs.

Offensively, the Twins were paced by first baseman Aaron Bates, who hit a two-run homer, and designated hitter Brian Dinkelman, who had two hits and two RBIs. Shortstop Brian Dozier also had two hits, while J.R. Towles and Joe Benson added RBI singles.

But the Twins no longer are playing for the Mayor’s Cup, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, now that the Red Sox moved into the new JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. The Cup used to be a battle between the Red Sox, representing the city, and the Twins, representing the county, but they now both play in unincorporated Lee County.

“There is no more Mayor’s Cup,” Gardenhire said. “We took the Cup; we got the Cup. The Cup’s in somebody’s cabin now, in Minnesota.”

Other notes:

- Gardenhire said Carl Pavano will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. CT. The Twins also have split-squad action on Sunday with left-hander Francisco Liriano scheduled to start against the Rays in Port Charlotte at 12:05 p.m. CT and right-hander Terry Doyle slated to pitch against the Red Sox at their new park in Fort Myers at 12:35 p.m. CT.

- Gardenhire said he’ll announce his lineups for Saturday’s game tomorrow morning. Morneau, Mauer and Span are all expected to play, but all said they have yet to be notified if they’ll be in the lineup.

- Scott Baker joked about third-base coach Steve Liddle being forced to be the home-plate umpire early in the “B” game: “I thought maybe the umpire was squeezing me a little bit,” Baker said with a grin. “We’ll work through it.”

Here’s video of Plouffe hitting a double against Marquis in today’s simulated game.

And photos from today:

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