Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Guess I'm Defending Joe Mauer

Let me start by saying...and this is something I've been afraid to admit...that I'm not really a Joe Mauer fan. I know, right? Gasp! Sure, I like that he's a good baseball player, and I love his swing. And, yes, I'm glad he's on the Twins and all that, but I'm not one of those crazy "marry me Joe" fangirls. I don't think he's particularly good looking, he has zero personality, and I just know he's one of those "perfect people" who have perfect lives and do perfect things that I just hate being around. Give me Cuddy or Ben Revere or someone who is slightly imperfect but can smile and make me smile, and I'll be happy.

But I digress.

My point is, I don't really care much about what Joe Mauer does, as long as he hits baseballs well. However, lately, he kind of isn't hitting baseballs as well as he usually does, which kind of sucks, but I think he's getting way too much grief about it.

He's getting grief from journalists, and fans on comment threads and on Twitter, and guys I work with, and random Target shoppers, and my husband. Among others.

I think all this sour energy really needs to stop.

He's getting grief for not offering to play first base until now. Why should he? He's a catcher, and if you think that makes him selfish, it doesn't. When he says things like "I signed to be a catcher," he's not being a pouty snot; he's mitigating expectations. He expects to play catcher for several years, because he's still pretty good at it, and that's what he does. Statements like those carry no more or less weight than Justin Morneau saying he signed to be a first baseman. It's just fact. And yes, right now, the Twins are in some rocky territory with Morneau, Kubel, and Young out all at the same time. So they need a little extra help. But guess what...he's out there practicing so he can give first base a shot once in a while. He just doesn't want anyone to believe that this is a permanent position change. And another thing, who we don't see is Jim Thome, or Carl Pavano, or Jason Repko taking scoops. Yes, I know Thome is 41 and "signed to be DH," but he used to be a first baseman and probably wouldn't be any worse than a catcher who hasn't played that position since he was 17. Why is everyone else above reproach, but not Mauer? (BTW, I was joking about Carl Pavano. The Twins certainly don't need his bat in the lineup).

He's getting grief about the contract. Yes, he makes a ton of money. Is he worth all that money? Really, who can say? Baseball contracts are subject the the laws of supply and demand, just like a lot of other things. A Coach handbag isn't really "worth" so much more than the one you can get at Target. The quality is somewhat better, but the desirability is way higher. Same thing with Joe. He got what the Twins were willing to pay. That's that.

He's getting grief about having a bad year. Guess what folks, Joe Mauer is a human being, even though he gets treated like (and gets paid like) he's some sort of demi-god or something. And, yeah, I accused him of being "perfect," but I know he's not. Every ball player has bad years. A-Rod and Derek Jeter have had bad years. Albert Pujols was having a bad year before he got hurt. Heck, even Harmon Killebrew had a bad year. It happens. It happens to everyone. Trust me, he's more upset about it than you'll ever be. No, really, he is.

He's getting grief about the injuries. First of all, the "bilateral leg weakness" label the Twins slapped on him was probably the sissiest thing they could've come up with, and it was probably less than accurate as well. He more likely had a combo platter of shoulder soreness and post-surgical knee soreness. He tried to battle through, he couldn't do it, and he became very weak because of it. He was legitimately hurt, and neither you nor I know the extent of it. And just because it's hard to name and figure out, it's still very real. Secondly, his bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, arteries, cells, or any other part of his body do not know that he makes $23 million a year. Nor do they care. A big salary isn't a magic shield against injury, and the expectation that he should play hurt should not be greater because of it. In fact, his big salary make is more likely that the organization will sit him in order to protect the long-term value of their investment.

So, the point is, all these nay-sayers and grief-givers and crap-shovelers all just need to simmer down. The whole team is having a hard time of things, so it's pretty unfair to pile all the vile on Joe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


"Cort" is a word my son and his buddies invented. It's really a great word. It's a shortened and altered version of a sarcastic of course, but they've adapted it to mean so much more. It's a statement of frustration, annoyance, and disdain, and is expressed perfectly with a well-executed hand flail and eye roll. It's an efficient combination of harshness and brevity without actually swearing, and it can be elongated to fit the amount of contempt the situation requires. The best part is that it can actually be used as a number of parts of speech: as an interjection -- "Cort! The battery on my phone died again!"; as an adjective -- "When I realized I forgot my key, it was such a cort moment"; and as a descriptive noun -- "My day has been a giant cort!" Usually, if you're mad, you elongate the "or" part of the word; when you're exasperated, you keep it brief. I explain below:

Cort! Delmon Young is on the DL again.

Rene Tosoni gets sent down when Jim Thome is activated, then four hours after landing in Rochester, has to get on anther plane back to Minneapolis. Cort.

Jose Mijares, Joe Mauer, and Ron Gardenhire got into a pissing match in the press about pitch selection and execution. That was a cort thing to do.

The pitching was a cort, the defense was a cort, all three games were a cort.

Cort! The Brewers swept the Twins.


DL Report:

First the good news: Joe Nathan and Jim Thome were activated from the DL. Chuck James and Rene Tosoni were optioned back to Rochester to make room. However, hold that thought on Tosoni; he barely had time to do his laundry before...

... the Twins placed RF Delmon Young on the DL on Saturday with what they're calling a right ankle sprain. He is due to have an MRI on Monday to evaluate the full extent of the tissue damage; an X-ray right after he came out of the game indicated that there were no broken bones.

He injured it when his cleat got stuck in the scoreboard thingy on the right field wall as he was going after a fly ball (which ultimately resulted in an inside-the-park homerun). I did not see the play, but according to the approximately 497 tweets in my twitter timeline, he ran a bad route to the ball (cort!) and was a big, awkward, tumbly mess. Gardy said later that he lost the ball in the lights.

Rene Tosoni was recalled to take his place on the roster. Usually when a player is sent down to the minor leagues, he must remain there for 10 days, unless there's an injury. I sincerely hope that Mr. Tosoni suffers neither travel sickness nor jet lag.

On Friday, Justin Morneau announced that he was going to undergo surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment in his neck that is causing a pinched nerve. Since he's still technically on the DL with the wrist injury, there is no new transaction (hence the dual-injury paper doll).

He reports that he's had numbness in his left index finger since Spring Training. During his rehab of the wrist, he visited a specialist regarding his pinched nerve, at the urging of the team. The specialist recommended surgery now before the numbness becomes permanent.

He's expected to be out 6-8 weeks after the procedure, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

There will be a revolving door at first base, with Luke Hughes and Michael Cuddyer splitting most of the time staffing the position. However, Joe Mauer might start practicing there and may start at first from time to time.


Monday, June 20, 2011

DL Moves: A Primer

But first, I want to say how much fun I'm having watching these Twins play baseball. The defense is making some really slick plays, the offense is getting hits, the starting pitching is pitching well and going deeper into games, and the relief pitching is more reliable. Oh, and the winning is fun too. I'm not ready to have them get fitted for rings just yet -- after all, these are the same guys who dug the big hole to begin with. They still have a long way to go, and they still have things to improve upon. But, as I continue to take things day-by-day, I like that there are more good days than bad. They have a big road trip to San Francisco and Milwaukee coming up. I hope they can keep things up.


With all the DL moves the Twins have had to make this year, the whole moving-guys-off-and-on-rosters-and-DL-lists thing has been quite confusing. I thought I'd try my best to sort things out.

Teams have two rosters -- the 25-man and the 40-man. The 25-man roster is the active roster; these are the guys who suit up for games every day. You can find the Twins current 25-man roster here.

The 40-man roster includes the 25-man roster, plus 15 minor league players who are kind of "on call." These 15 guys are the most likely to be called up if someone on the active roster gets hurt or struggles. This is the Twins current 40-man roster.

Disabled Lists
There are three versions of the DL a team may use if a player gets hurt: 7-day concussion DL, 15-day DL, and the 60-day DL. These indicate the minimum number of days a player must be inactive. However, if a player gets hurt and waits a couple of days to see if he'll get better but doesn't, he can be placed on the appropriate list retroactive to the day after he last played. The player may come back to action as soon as he is eligible, but he may be out longer.

The 7-day concussion DL is new to Major League Baseball this year. They implemented it to encourage teams to make the player inactive at the first hint of a brain injury and still allowing them to call up a minor leaguer to help the team.

Disabled List Transactions
A player gets hurt and the manager decides that he's no help to the team in his condition, so he places him on the appropriate DL. This takes him off the 25-man roster. If the injury is long-term, and the team has to place him on the 60-day DL, this also takes him off the 40-man roster. Teams generally avoid doing implementing the 60-day DL until the timeline for the player's return is clearly close to 60 days anyway or he's out for the season.

Once the hurt player is on the DL, the team decides which minor league player on the 40-man roster to call up, and he's in the bigs. When the injured player returns (or if the team decides it wants someone else instead), it options him back to the team he came from. If he comes back to the bigs again, he's recalled, and then back down again, he's reassigned. (Although teams sometimes list the second, third, etc., transaction as optioned as well, but "options" are really a year-by-year thing, not a transaction-by-transaction thing. A team uses one player option per year regardless of how many times it calls him up and sends him back to the minors.)

If the team decides to call up a player who isn't currently on the 40-man roster, it has to make some moves to add him. If this is the player's first time with the bigs, the team must purchase his contract. However, someone must be removed from the 40-man to make room. Many times, if there's an injured player who will clearly be out 60 days, it'll just move that guy to the 60-day DL.

Other Transactions
A team may decide to remove someone from the 40-man roster for any reason. To do this, it designates him for assignment, after which it has 10 days to decide whether to expose him to waivers, trade him, or release him. If he is placed on waivers, other teams have an opportunity to claim his contract. If he clears waivers, he is then outrighted to the minor league team. A team may only DFA a player once in his career without his consent, and players who have at least five years of service time may not be DFA'd without consent.

If the team choses to release a player, he still must clear waivers, but then he is a free-agent and may sign with another team.

If you want to know more about free agency and all that other stuff, I wrote it up last fall here.

Also, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are currently hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement, so the nuances of these rules are subject to change.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Attracted to Pitching and Other Thoughts

I've never made it a secret that I love great pitching. Of course, I love it when our boys execute great hitting and running and scoring and all that. But when our pitchers go deep into games and keep the opponents from executing their own hitting and running and scoring, well, I get a, flushed. Mmmmm, I love snuggling up with a great pitching performance.

Carl Pavano's complete game and Nick Blackburn's eight shutout innings were hot. Or, rather, "hawt." And the fact that it was the White Sox that they owned made it all that sexier. Rawr. It's totally cool to have a crush on both of them -- this is baseball love after all. In fact, I wouldn't mind if all the pitchers started flirting with me by pitching gems.

Ozzie Guillen made some funny comments after Thursday's game (I'll try to paraphrase, but I don't know if I'll do a good job because I never understand what he's saying anyway). He said that the Twins were a bunch of "sardines" and "circus midgets" and they still beat his team. I think his point was that all the big, burly boppers (Morneau, Mauer, Thome, Kubel) were gone and all that were left were the Revere- and Casilla-sized guys. And, like the piranhas of the past, the little ones earned Ozzie's respect ... and annoyance.



In order to make room for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Glen Perkins, and Joe Mauer to come off the DL, the Twins had to move some guys to AAA. Dusty Hughes and Brian Dinkelman have been outrighted to AAA. This removes them off the 40-man roster so Nishioka and Mauer can be re-added. Chuck James was optioned to AAA for Glen Perkins.


Joe Nathan flew back to Minnesota from Fort Myers. He says he's ready to come back. Gardy wasn't convinced and wants him to report to Rochester for a rehab stint. Can you imagine that conversation? "Hey Gardy, I'm ready to go." ", Joe, I think you need more time." "No, skip, really. I'm good." "No, Joe. You really need to get more pitches in." "Awww, c'mon skip, I don't wanna go to Rochester. Paleeeeeeese let me stay?" " get your butt to Rochester and stop complaining." "Ooh-kay. Rats!"


Friday is Joe Mauer Day 2011! Even though there have been plenty of fans commenting on blogs and calling into sports talk show who are frustrated with his inability to play, most fans are really looking forward seeing him again.

He had a press conference on Thursday where he tried to explain the cause of his injury and why it took so long to return. He made it very clear that he did not have Lyme disease, or any other disease for that matter. He indicated that the rehab from his off-season knee surgery didn't go as planned, and his legs were weak because he was really suffering from post-surgical pain. Plus, the timing of that nasty flu bug probably didn't help any either, although Joe insists that his legs felt weak before he caught it.

Listing the injury as "bilateral leg weakness" was probably a mistake in retrospect. The Twins had to list something on the transaction, and since they didn't really know exactly what was wrong, that's what they wrote down. But doing so created a lot of unintentional angst among fans.

Folks understand things such as "broken fibula" or "strained oblique." "Bilateral leg weakness" doesn't mean anything at all except that both legs feel weak. Additionally, most fans also understand the cause of most muscle strains or tissue sprains -- there's usually an event to point to. Even Jim Thome's continuing back troubles are easy to figure out -- he's got a bad back and that's that.

However, when the ambiguous "bilateral leg weakness" was the announced disability for Mauer, most fans ran to the internet to look it up. And the internet wasn't particularly helpful. There are probably a million causes for bilateral leg weakness, and some of them are pretty scary. Which led many fans to believe that Joe and the Twins were hiding some serious condition. I can't tell you how many hits this blog received by people Googling "Joe Mauer Lyme Disease." I never said he had it; I merely listed several of the causes I found in my Googling to illustrate that the symptom could have meant anything.

At any rate, he says he's still not 100%, but he is ready to play. Welcome home, Joe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DL Report: Justin Morneau

There are now nine men currently on the DL (two will come off in the next 24 hours), 13 men to be on it sometime this year, and two men twice, for a total of 15 transactions. Oy. Plus, with all the minor leaugers filling in, only 10 guys on the current 25-man roster have had no transactions at all. I've had to rearrange my spreadsheet quite a bit.

The Twins have placed Justin Morneau on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 10, with a left wrist strain. He had a cortisone shot a few days ago, but unfortunately, it didn't give him any relief. He had it re-examined, and the doctor told him to immobilize it for 10 days. He'll get a cast on it sometime Thursday.

How he hurt it is unclear. I haven't seen any definitive reports in the media. It could be caused by some kind over-compensation of his sore neck and shoulder (experts call this a "cascade injury"). However, I've also read some speculation that he may have hurt in in a fit of frustration.

Either way, it's hurt, and he has to sit. With a cast.

No announcement yet as to who will take his spot on the roster, but both Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Glen Perkins are due to come off the DL on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been playing some games at AAA Rochester and is ready to come back to Minnesota. He'll be evaluated again once he arrives to Target Field, and he may be ready to play Wednesday night. Because he's currently on the 60-day DL, someone will have to come off both the active roster and the 40-man roster to make room. Pitcher Dusty Hughes has been outrighted from the 40-man roster.

Glen Perkins should be in the line up Thursday, or maybe even Wednesday night.

Joe Mauer is very close to returning, too. I'm hoping he'll be in the line up Friday. He faced Joe Nathan in some batting practice in Fort Myers on Wednesday. I wonder if Nathan "got him with the slider" and then Mrs. Mauer came by and told them to go play outside. Ha. And, like Nishioka, he's on the 60-DL, which means a 25-man and 40-man roster spot will need to be cleared for him.

Joe Nathan will be returning to Minnesota soon. He's not quite ready to return to the line up, but he's very close.

Jim Thome and Kevin Slowey are in Fort Myers doing rehab.

Jason Kubel is taking swings in the batting cage, but still has pain in his foot when he runs.

Denard Span is feeling better every day, but is still suffering concussion symptoms.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Eighth Inning That Froze the Golden Arm

Wow. It's one thing to take series from the Royals and the Indians, but it's quite another to take one from the Rangers. The Rangers are a good team, so this one was downright impressive. Well, except for Friday night's debacle. Perhaps we shouldn't allow Brian Duensing to pitch when it's raining; he never seems to do well in bad weather. Oh well.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch much of the first three games. But I went to Sunday's game.

Boy, that was a blast. It was pretty exciting as we noticed there were no runs, no hits, and no men left on base for the Rangers as each inning went by. It was a real bummer when the error by Luke Hughes broke up the perfect game; I imagine that no one felt worse about than he did. However, I'm more upset about what caused the break-up of the no-hitter. It was a perfect storm of unfortunate situations and happy craziness that kept him sitting on the bench for almost half an hour between his last pitch of the seventh and his first pitch of eighth innings:
  • A very loooong, drawn out version of God Bless America (note to singers everywhere: patriotic songs are to be sung at an appropriate tempo -- the focus is on the country, not how long you can hold each and every note)
  • A regular version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame (to be expected and appreciated)
  • The Rangers taking the field
  • A line drive from Danny Valencia off pitcher Matt Harrison's arm (ow!), which required a visit from Rangers' coaches and trainers
  • The removal of Harrison from the game, which required relief pitcher Mark Lowe to take as many warm up pitches as he needed (and, good grief, he did)
  • Jason Repko grounding out and moving Danny Valencia to second (as Bert would say, he did his job)
  • Rene Rivera reaching on a fielding error by Elvis Andrus, allowing Valencia to score (yay!)
  • Matt Tolbert popping up to third
  • Ben Revere striking out, but since the pitch was wild, and Benny is the Jet, he reached first base anyway (yay!), which required a coaching visit to the mound
  • Alexi Casilla getting a base hit, moving the runners up
  • Michael Cuddyer homered, causing me to dance crazily to a Prince song
  • Delmon Young singling
  • Luke Hughes also singling, requiring yet another pitching change (yawn)
  • Danny Valencia stepping in for the second time of the inning and flying out, which was finally the third out, but really the fifth out, what with the errors and all
  • Another between half-inning stint
  • And finally, the Twins taking the field
All of these things conspired to make Liriano wait 29 minutes 48 seconds on the bench. This extended alone time probably cooled off his arm (it was a bit chilly), but more importantly, it got him out of his groove. It showed right away in the 8th, when he went 3-0 before giving up a single to Adrian Beltre, a wild pitch to Nelson Cruz that moved Beltre over, and a single to Yorvit Torrealba that scored Beltre. He finished the inning, but Alex Burnett finished the game.

There's nothing that could've been done about that eighth inning; it's all baseball. And you certainly don't want to slow down your hitters when they're scoring runs. Plus, this pitching performance was certainly better than the real no-hitter he had earlier in the season.

It's just a shame that it wasn't meant to be.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    DL Report: Denard Span

    Oh, no. I was afraid of this...

    The Twins have placed OF Denard Span on the 7-day DL with a mild concussion and whiplash symptoms. He suffered the injury during a collision with the Royals catcher at the plate on Friday, June 3. He rested a couple of days, and tried to DH on the following Monday; however, he later told reporters that he never felt "right" and everything was hazy.

    On Thursday, he tweeted that he had spent over three hours at the doctors, who found the concussion. Before Thursday's game, the Twins trainer told reporters that his symptoms reminded him of the whiplash he suffered in 2009. Friday morning, Span tweeted that the concussion made him feel "lazy." Of course, with every brain injury, there is no telling how long he'll be out. Twin fans are particularly worried as they know that the concussion that Justin Morneau suffered kept him out of baseball for months.

    OF Rene Tosoni has been recalled from AAA Rochester to fill his roster spot.

    The 7-day DL is new to MLB this year, specifically for concussion-related injuries. The intention is to avoid rushing players with head injuries back into action without hurting the team.


    Joe Mauer caught in back-to-back games, which is significant.

    Jim Thome's quad injury is related to his previous back injury. He's due to receive an epidural soon. To be clear, "epidural" refers to the epidural space, which is the outermost part of the spinal canal. Many women have epidurals to manage pain during childbirth or c-sections. Those are epidural anesthesia procedures. I doubt he's getting that; because that would make the entire lower half of his body numb for a few hours. What I suspect he's getting is an epidural steroid shot, which hurts like a son-of-a-b*tch when you get it, but works pretty well after that. That is, if they get the needle in the right spot the first time. If not, they do it again...ow!

    Matt Capps is sore (right wrist). Phil Dumatrait is sore (shoulder). Justin Morneau is sore (neck, shoulder, wrist, etc.). All are day-to-day.

    Yesterday afternoon, I sent a tweet out regarding Kevin Slowey. I hadn't heard an update about his injury rehab in quite awhile, and I figured all the "he needs to be traded or sent down so he can be a starter" talk that surrounded the injury made all the beat reporters figure he was no longer with the team. Jordan Schelling from replied that Slowey threw long toss with no complaints.

    As far as all the other guys, I think you should just read RandBall's Stu's update. He's got everyone covered, and in a much funnier way than I could ever dream of. I'm done here, so go read it now.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Range of Emotions

    I've long since given up hope that the Twins will make the playoffs. And I'm totally ok with that. I've been spoiled with contending teams for awhile, and I have forgotten what it's like to just root for a team and enjoy the baseball without the constraints of expectations. Of course, winning is still more fun than losing, but if there's no entitlement to the winning, the losing isn't as bad.

    I've reached a point where I can simply take in the games one at a time, and experience my emotions within the context of each individual game as they come. With that, taking the series from the division leader was more good than bad.

    Happiness: I'm going to say it again -- I'm having a lot of fun watching Ben Revere play. There are guys I love because they're really good at baseball, and then there are guys I love because they're lovable. Revere falls into the "lovable" category. It's true that he's not the most talented player to ever grace a baseball diamond -- he won't hit any home runs and his throwing arm is pretty weak -- but those faults can be worked around. He's fast, small, energetic, and very exciting to watch. And look at him as he's playing; he's always smiling. He loves this game, and he shows it. It's good to see someone who is actually having fun playing. He makes me want to keep watching, and I haven't been able to say that about a single player in a long time. I really hope that I can keep watching him play when Jason Kubel and Jim Thome come back.

    Also under the "happiness" emotion, I'm thrilled the boys in the bullpen are having a little fun. If you've been watching the Twins television broadcasts, you've seen that they've been playacting on their way out to the bullpen area before the games (here's a video). First they pretended to be bobsled team, then a boat. It's about time this team showed a little personality. The season is a grind, they have to have fun in order to keep their sanity. Besides, keeping loose and playful probably helps them perform a little better.

    Frustration: Delmon Young has become the complete opposite of Ben Revere and is pretty much batting .800 in frustrating me every time I see him. He looks so uncomfortable and jumpy at the plate -- much like what a 4-year-old looks like when he has to pee. He's slow and plodding when he runs. He's become totally unreliable in the outfield. And, yes, his arm is stronger that Revere's, but it's not really all that accurate. I get worried every time a routine fly ball goes out to left because I'm not confident at all that he'll be able to catch it. I really don't like hating on players -- baseball is hard. Plus, he's such important part of this team, the team pretty much goes how he goes. However, he simply doesn't look like he likes his job. He's never really been much of a smiley guy, but his facial expressions and body language really make it seem like he'd really rather be anyplace else in the world.

    I'm also becoming increasingly frustrated with Matt Capps. He's logged only 8 saves in 13 save opportunities. That means he's blown 5. This does not inspire confidence. He's still a good pitcher; he has a WHIP under 1, which means he isn't giving up a ton of singles and walks. But he is giving up home runs. This is not good for the guy who's coming in the game with a less-than-three-run lead. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer within the organization to fix this problem. Now that the Twins are batting a little better and getting leads, they really need a real closer.

    Worry: I have to say that I'm quite worried about Denard Span. He suffered ... well, something ... on Friday during a collision with the Royal's catcher on Friday. He tried to play through on Monday as the DH, but he said that every at bat was very fuzzy. He later told reporters that the Vestibular Neuritis (vertigo) he suffered in 2009 never really went away. And now, he's not himself, and he knows that something's really wrong. As unfortunate as it is to take his production out of the line up, it's really worrisome because this is more than just a baseball injury. This is a quality-of-life injury. It's one thing to heal from a quad strain or even surgery; it's quite another thing to figure out and heal from a neuro issue.

    I'm also beginning to worry about Justin Morneau. His aches and pains are really mounting, and I have to wonder how much more of those he can take before landing on the DL. His neck and shoulder hurt. His wrist is swollen and sore. Eventually, dealing with these pains is going to cause something else to strain or sprain or break, and it'll be bad.


    DL Update:

    For the second consecutive series, there are no new paper dolls to make. Good.

    As I mentioned above, I'm worried about Denard; I sincerely hope I don't have to make a paper doll for him.

    As for all the other guys, it sounds like they're all progressing along. Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have been playing for the Miracle. They may need time at higher levels in order to face better pitching, but I'm willing to guess that they'll both be back with the Twins within 10 days. Perkins and Nathan are throwing. Thome and Kubel are said to be improving.

    We're still watching Nick Blackburn and hoping his back stiffness is gone. He's scheduled to pitch Thursday night.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Sometimes It's Not Who You Play, But When You Play Them...

    ... and then sometimes it is who you play.

    This nice little sweep of the Royals was the first more-than-two-game-series win of the season and the first four-game winning streak of the season. In the previous series against Detroit, our Twins looked overmatched, scared, and frustrated. It's not like the Tigers blew them away, but the Twins just didn't look good.

    Since the Royals always play the Twins tough, I was hoping the Twins could at least earn a split. But they, ...
    "for whatever perverse reason, began playing baseball with joy and verve and poetry"
    ...and it was good. In fact, it was beautiful.

    Is it too soon to think that they've turned the corner into being a good team again?


    One thing I have been enjoying, regardless of the outcomes of the games, is rooting for the kids. With all the injuries, we've seen a lot of them. And they're all playing like they don't want to be sent down again...not that anyone ever wants to be sent down again...and that's what makes this fun.

    Ben Revere is just fun to watch. He's fast, small, and, well, adorable. I just love how he smiles all the time. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield, and he absolutely flies around the bases. About the only knock on him is his throwing arm, but the team can work with that. I see a pretty good future for him.

    Anthony Swarzak has really stepped up in times of need. He did serviceable work from the bullpen, but as a starter, he's sparkled. And he has a great attitude -- he just wants the ball whenever Gardy needs to give it to him. It's great having him around to fill in for starters as needed and not feeling scared about it.

    And, how about Brian Dinkelman? After only one major league game, he's earned himself quite a fan club. During Saturday's game, and reportedly at the bars after the game, loud chants of "DINK-EL-MAN" could be heard. How much fun is that? I hope he appreciated every moment of it. I don't think there are very many guys who received both a HBP and IBB in their major-league debuts.

    I'm even rooting for Trevor Plouffe, although his defensive miscues drive me nuts. I know he's back in Rochester working those out right now, but it's better that he's there playing everyday rather that with the big club sitting on the bench. He'll be back soon enough, and he'll be just fine.


    DL Updates:

    This is the time of the season when if starts becoming a grind for the players. The freshness of the new season has worn off, and it's still to early for the excitement of a playoff push. Players are worn down and sore. Everyone's playing hurt. And everyone's hoping that "hurt" doesn't turn in to "injured."

    Thankfully, there were no new additions to the DL during this series ... yet. We're watching Denard Span, who missed Saturday and Sunday with a sore neck, though he was available to pinch hit on Sunday if needed. Justin Morneau also missed Saturday and Sunday with a swollen wrist. Nick Blackburn's start on Saturday was cut short due to back spasms, although he said after the game that he was hopeful it wasn't serious.

    Joe Mauer has been catching in real games for the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle (where, by the way, his brother Jake is the manager -- I wonder if they call each other "Butthead" like my boys do). He'll likely have to move up to AA or AAA for a few games in order to face better pitching before he heads back to Minnesota.

    Tsuyoshi Nishioka will also start playing for Fort Myers soon. Gardy has indicated that when Nishi does return, he'll likely be at shortstop rather than at second base.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    DL Report: When Thome Goes to DLandia, He Doesn't Go Alone

    First, let me start by saying that I don't really mean to stick to doing only DL reports with this blog. I fully intend to keep writing other stuff too. I'm trying to think of clever things to say, but, unfortunately, I'm usually only clever when I'm content. And, well, I'm not feeling terribly content with my baseball team. It'll come back soon enough. I'm sure you understand.

    Anyway, on to the paper dolls...

    The Twins have placed DH Jim Thome on the 15-day DL with a strained left quad. He tweaked it taking a swing on Wednesday. This after he just returned on May 23 from a DL stint due to an oblique strain. I'm guessing, but could it be that he's still favoring the oblique, so he swung differently, which cascaded to tweaking the leg? Hard to tell.

    IF Luke Hughes has been recalled from AAA Rochester to take his place on the roster.

    Apparently, Thome's a-scared of DLandia because he never goes alone. Last time, he brought Jason Repko with him. This time, since any old Jason will do, he's bringing Jason Kubel. (Yes, I know, Jason got hurt first. Just go with the joke, ok?)

    The Twins have placed OF Jason Kubel in the 15-day DL with a sprained mid-left foot (I know that's worded weird, but that's how it is in the transaction report). It's interesting they used the word "sprained"; this means there is some actual tissue damage. ("Strain" usually means "sore"; "sprain" means "tear.") He hurt it going after a homerun ball in Detroit on Monday. According to the Twins radio broadcast on Wednesday, he said that he hurt it right when he broke to chase the ball, not when he jumped up the wall.

    OF Ben Revere has been recalled from AAA Rochester to fill his spot.

    However, with two of his power lefty hitters down, Gardy needs another left-handed hitter. So the Twins have purchased the contract of OF Brian Dinkelman. To make room on the 25-man roster, IF Trevor Plouffe has been re-assigned to AAA Rochester, and to make room on the 40-man roster, C Joe Mauer has been added to the 60-day DL. This move means that Mauer won't be eligible to return until June 12. It was highly unlikely that he would've returned before then, so it's just a paperwork move.


    Joe Mauer caught three innings in an extended spring training game, and went 0-5. He reported feeling fatigued after the game. He'll continue alternating DHing and catching. He's been struggling at the plate against prospect pitching.

    Liriano and Perkins are throwing and making progress.

    Nishioka is playing in the field in extended spring training, but he's also still struggling at the plate.