Early in Spring Training, there are already some things that Twins fans can be sure of: Delmon Young will start in LF, Justin Morneau will bat cleanup, and 3B Brian Buscher has a good chance to make the team, as a backup to Mike Lamb at third and Morneau at first.
Alexi Casilla made it in time for the first full-squad workout, as did Dennys Reyes, but Francisco Liriano still hasn’t gotten his new visa. Expect him back either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Apparently, the team and closer Joe Nathan have now distanced a bit regarding each side’s stance on a contract extension. This contradicts reports earlier last week that the two sides were fairly close on getting a deal done. If a deal is struck, it really isn’t worth it. There’s a good chance that Nathan would fetch more than Johan Santana did, if Nathan is traded at the proper time (the All-Star Break). But the team has told him they want to keep him, so the chances of that happening are probably slim.
Check out this article about our new “ace”, Livan Hernandez. He seems like an old-fashioned kind of guy, one that has no problems throwing 120+ pitches in a game, and then doing it again 5 days later. I’m interested in how Ron Gardenhire will handle him. It’s highly unlikely he’ll let Livan throw more than 110 in a game, ever, but Hernandez has a history of high pitch counts – he once threw more than 150. On the other hand, Hernandez doesn’t throw above 84 or 85, so it’s possible he physically can do 110 or 120 with no extra stress/pressure on his arm.
Boof Bonser is excited to get back to the Metrodome. Why? He thinks his 30 pound weight loss has added some velocity to his pitches. “That would be huge. Believe me, 2 or 3 mph, I would love that,” said Bonser. There are no radar guns anywhere on the Twins’ training facility, probably a good idea. Pitchers can get so caught up in how fast they throw that they forget to work on mechanics (if necessary), or just improving other pitches.
Pitcher Bartolo Colon was signed to a minor league deal, which would be worth about $1 million if he makes the team, by the Red Sox today. I wouldn’t have minded if the Twins tried to sign him. After all, he did win the 2005 Cy Young award. But last year was injury-ridden and he’s definitely on the last leg of his career. Still, that’s about 1/6 the price of Livan’s contract, and probably around 80% of Livan’s production. Shannon Stewart got a contract from the Blue Jays that could be worth around $1.5 million if he makes the team. Jason Tyner was signed by the Indians last Thursday, for…can you guess? A minor league contract. He will be battling another Tribe member in Spring Training for the 5th outfielder spot so, in theory, he could still be available if the Twins suddenly feel that a combination of any of Carlos Gomez, Jason Pridie, and Denard Span won’t get the job done in CF.