Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Twins Fan Forum with Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki

The Twins hosted another Fan Forum phone call on Tuesday night, this time featuring closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki. I took some notes, and I thought I'd kind-of, sort-of transcribe them. My usual caveat: keep in mind, I'm a horrible transcriptionist, my notes are hard to read, my hand cramped up halfway through, and my dog needed to be let out in the middle of it. All the questions and answers written here are rough estimations of what was really said, and most likely somewhat abbreviated. In other words, I apologize in advance for any mistakes in this.

General impressions: Both Glen and Kurt sound like great guys who I would love to go have beers with. Of course, they answered every question as positively as they could, but they genuinely sounded like they were happy to be talking with fans. And I noticed that Glen said something about fishing in just about every answer he gave; it's hard to tell if he fishes too much, or not enough. I'm going to say that he'll say "not enough."

Question for Glen: You stay in Minnesota all year-round, how was your winter?
Glen's Answer: Cold! Coldest in memory, but it's a no-brainer to stay in Minnesota.

Q for Kurt: You're from Hawaii and California. What's it like in Hawaii in the winter?
Kurt's A: It's always the same: about 80-85, humid, sunshine. When it rains, it rains for 10 minutes. Paradise.

Q for K: You're on a new team and taking over for Joe Mauer. Is he helping you prepare to work with a new pitching staff.
K's A: Joe and I are locker mates. We have conversations daily about pitchers. Joe's a leader. It's never easy to replace someone. I have so much respect for his accomplishments. I'm glad I get to pick his brain and get to know the pitching staff.

Q for G: How much will you miss having Joe as your catcher?
G's A: Joe was great, but so far I'm very impressed with Kurt's pitch framing. I like throwing to him. He'll handle the staff well. It'll also be great to get Joe's bat in the lineup more often.

Q for K: Does the fact that you faced Twins pitchers when you were with the A's help you know them now?
K's A: Facing them helps a little, and you always have scouting reports. But it's important to get to know their personalities, who wants to be pumped up, who needs to be calmed down.

Q for G: You're a veteran on the team. How does that affect your responsibility to help the younger guys?
G's A: I'm glad to show the young guys and new guys that the Twins do things the right way, the Twins way. Doing this is on my shoulders.

Q for K: How many offers did you get this off-season, and what was it about the Twins that made you want to sign here?
K's A: There were some offers. I've always liked and respected the Twins organization. They do things the right way. It's a great team, great city, great fans.

Q for G: You've made the transition from a starter to a closer. Is there a difference if your off-season preparation, both mentally and physically?
G's A: Not much mentally -- I wasn't a very good starter, so I probably didn't have a starter mentality. But physically, I focus on being able to get ready faster. I don't have to worry about having the arm strength to throw 100 pitches, so I can work on being ready faster.

Q for K: Last year the Twins hitters had a lot of strike outs. What are the coaches doing in Spring Training to reduce the number of strike outs this season?
K's A: Not sure. The coaches do a great job of getting the guys ready. Strike outs happen. You try to reduce them, and there's a lot of talent in the room. Guys just have to stay within themselves, and good things will happen.

Q for G: What does it feel like on Opening Day?
G's A: Cold! Nah, it's awesome. It should be a national holiday. Even though it may be chilly, the grass is so green. The stands are full, and it's a fun, festive atmosphere.

Q for K: How do you work out in the off-season?
K's A: I play with my daughter -- lift her over my head and stuff. Just kidding. I do strength and conditioning programs. I condition like I'm preparing to play 162 games. As a catcher, I don't really expect to play 162 games, but you never know. Conditioning is a year-round process.

Q for G: You got to experience the All Star Game last year. What was it like? And what do you think about it coming to Target Field this year?
G's A: It was the experience of a lifetime. As a kid, you dream about standing next to the best players in the game. I hope I can do what it takes to make it back there this year with Target Field hosting it. Can't describe how cool it would be to play it at home. It was a great honor last year; being able to go when it's at Target Field would be infinitely better.

Q for K: How are you dealing with the transition to a new team?
K's A: There are challenges with leaving. I some experience with that when I went to Washington. Facing other teams helped me get to know hitters around the league.

Q for G: There are two outs in the ninth inning. Who do you most fear facing?
G's A: The hitter that makes me most uncomfortable is Miguel Cabrera. You never know what he's looking for and he's so strong he can hit just about anything. It's hard to know what to throw him. The hitter who hits me most is Carlos Santana from the Indians. I always seem to face him, and he seems to always get a hit off me.

Q for K: How do you prepare for wear and tear on catchers, like we saw in Joe?
K's A: It's tough, but you can't really tell with Joe's Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. But you get foul balls off the mask, your knees wear out. It's tougher than it looks. Your legs go slowly grinding away. But it drives you to remain fresh.

Q for G: How's the knee after your surgery this off-season?
G's A: 100% It's great. A week after the surgery, I was out in a fishing boat, standing and balancing. I worked on the strength, and now it's an afterthought. It couldn't have gone any better. I injured it in July, but played through it.

Q for K: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
K's A: Defense first. I take pride in my defense. Last couple years have been a little tough offensively. I take pride in taking starters 7, 8 innings with no runs, and get to Perk with a lead. As a hitter, I like to put the bat on the ball, I won't strike out too much. I do love to hit.

Q for G: What's it like to put on a Twins jersey every day?
G's A: Awesome. It's an honor to put on the same uniform as the players I watched as a kid at the Metrodome -- Kirby, Hrbek, Jack Morris. I had a book as a kid about the Twins.

Q for K: Who was your least favorite pitcher to catch?
K's A: Henry Rodriguez. He threw 100 miles an hour straight into the ground. I would've hated to stand in the box against him, and he sure was hard to catch.

Q for G: How did going to Stillwater High School help you become a Twin?
G's A: That was a long time ago. The coaches there did a great job, but going to the University of Minnesota really helped me learn what it takes for a professional lifestyle.

Q for K: What do you think about the new play at the plate rules?
K's A: We'll have to see how it plays out so we can get more clarity on it. It won't really affect my game because I'm not the type of guy who blocked the plate. I'm not the biggest guy, so I always give a lane to the plate and try to make tag plays.

Q for G: How do you feel about the guys who were gone and are now back?
G's A: It's fun to have Bartlett and Kubel back. But I have a special friendship with Guerrier. It's exciting to have these guys back.

Q for K: Do you talk with managers about motivating pitchers?
K's A: I really prefer to talk player to player, getting to know the pitchers on a personal level. I like talking, hanging out, developing a bond, and also going out in game situations.

Q for G: You played in the Metrodome as a Gopher and as a Twin. How do you feel about it being torn down?
G's A: Sad. As a kid, I watched a lot of games there, and there was the spirit of all those great former players in the clubhouse. But Target Field is awesome, and playing baseball outside is awesome. It was time for it to go, but it's still sad.

Q for K: Have you had a chance to catch any of the young Twins pitching prospects? How are they?
K's A: Only Kyle Gibson so far. He's pretty good. Heavy sinker, nice slider. Could be devastating for hitters. I'm impressed. He'll be in a good battle for that 5th spot.

Q for G: Do you have to adjust your mindset if you're asked to get 4 or 5 outs rather than 3? Also, is it different if you're facing the heart of the order rather than the bottom?
G's A: You do have to adjust your mindset. [He made some fishing reference that I didn't understand -- something about going out to catch one kind of fish and actually catching another kind.] There's nothing like going out there with the game on the line, and you have to try to get yourself pumped up that much when you go in for longer.

Q for both: What are meals like on game days?
G's A: I'd prefer more fish [as in fish he caught]. I like chicken breast. And Chipotle.
K's A: I like to mix it up. Sandwiches and stuff. I don't like to eat a lot on game days -- that makes me sleepy. I don't want to get too full.

Q for both: Has Kurt razzed Glen yet about the homer he off you in college?
G's A: I'll never forget that. That was huge it went into a pond outside the field or something like that.
K's A: I hit that with my eyes closed. Just kidding. Glen mixes up his pitches really well, so you have to really focus to get a hit off him. I just focused on one.

Q for G: Do you use sabermetrics and PitchFx to figure out how to pitch to hitters?
G's A: I'd like to use that stuff for more fishing. Actually those things are more for players as a whole rather than for situational stuff. Scouting reports are better for pitch selection and situations. I love sabermetrics, but they're for bigger sample sizes.

Q for both: What were your impressions on the expanded replay used the other day?
K's A: Took too long.
G's A: I was already off fishing by the time it happened.
K's A continued: As a concept, I can see how you want to get the calls right, but it takes away the human element. Sometimes you need that so you can catch some breaks that will help you win games and get you to the playoffs. But you do want to get the calls right. We'll see how it plays out. However, in Target Field in April on a cold day if takes 2 1/2 minutes to make the call, players won't like that.
G's A continued: I've always been pro-getting the call right. But Kurt makes a good point. I never thought about a cold day. My arm would get cold in a hurry if I have to stand there for 2 1/2 minutes. They got to do what they can to keep the game moving along.

Q for K: With all the talk of concussions, what's been your experience? And what's your view on equipment and neck-strengthening exercises?
K's A: I've never had major issues. I've had my bell rung a couple times. I don't know if there's anything to be done. You get 90mph pitches fouled off your facemask. It's part of the game. I guess that's why they call them tools of ignorance.

Q for both: What's it like to work with great former players like Paul Molitor and Rod Carew as coaches?
G's A: They have this calming influence. Honored to have great players parlay their experience into coaching.
K's A: I'm in awe to talk to them on a daily basis. They've been there before, they've been through the ups and downs. They can talk about their successes. I'm blown away to have them around, they make you a better player.

Q for K: What do you do when a young pitcher shakes you off?
K's A: I'm not a fan of being adamant about my pitch selections, so I'll go talk to him to find out why he wants to throw what he wants to throw. There's no sense in making him throw something he doesn't want to. If he can't throw a pitch with conviction, it's no good to anybody. It makes all the difference in the world if his heart is in the pitch.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Injury Report: Pelfrey's Back

On Sunday, the Twins placed RHP Mike Pelfrey on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 19 (the last time he pitched), with a strained back.

His back tightened up during pre-game exercising on Saturday. He couldn't get it loose before his scheduled start on Sunday, so on the DL he went.

There's no indication of whether he'll be able to return when he's eligible, but it's doubtful this injury is serious.

LHP Pedro Hernandez was recalled to start on Sunday, and then was promptly optioned back after the game. It was a good thing that Pelfrey mentioned his sore back on Saturday; it gave the Twins time to notify Hernandez so he could drive six hours from Louisville, Kentucky, (where the Red Wings were playing) to Cleveland. If Pelfrey had waited until he woke up on Sunday to report it, the Twins would have been up a creek. Anthony Swarzak normally would've been able to make a spot start, but since he had to clean up PJ Walters' horrible one-inning start on Saturday, he was unavailable.

Although the transaction hasn't been officially made yet, the Twins have announced that they're calling up Kyle Gibson to replace Pelfrey on the roster. THE Kyle Gibson.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Injury Report: Hicksey Hammey

On Monday, the Twins placed Aaron Hicks on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. He suffered it in Sunday evening's game while running to first base.

The hamstrings are the group of muscles running along the back of the thigh from the hip to the knee. If you've ever over-done lunges or weeding your garden, you've felt your hamstrings the next morning.

I haven't seen any indication how serious his injury is or how soon the Twins expect him back (probably because Monday's off-day didn't allow for the reporters to ask anyone about it). Fortunately, he didn't do that patented "shot-by-a-sniper" fall that people do when a hammie is ruptured. (I've witnessed that happening to an acquaintance, and it wasn't pretty.)

The Twins recalled Oswaldo Arcia to take Hicks' place on the roster. It sounds like Clete Thomas, who was added to the roster earlier this month, will be patrolling center field until either Hicks or Wilkin Rameriz comes off the DL.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Injury Report: From Head to Calf

The Twins placed Trevor Plouffe on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a strained left calf muscle.

Poor Trevor. This is the worst of all possible luck. He was activated off the 7-day concussion DL on Wednesday, just to strain his calf in pregame warm-ups. He didn't even play in a game.

He missed a fair amount of time in Spring Training with the same injury.

The Twins don't believe it'll take the full 15 days for Plouffe to heal, but with a 13-man (!) pitching staff, they can't afford to have him sitting on the roster unavailable to play. Also, they weren't able to make the move retroactive to the beginning of the first DL stint since it's a separate incident.

The Twins recalled Chris Colabello to replace Plouffe on the roster. Colabello probably didn't even get unpacked after being optioned Wednesday to make room for Plouffe.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Injury Report: Head Cases

Sorry about posting this so late. I treated myself to some relaxation time.

On May 22, the Twins placed 3B Trevor Plouffe on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. He suffered it during the Braves series plowing into 2B Dan Uggla trying to break up a double play. Plouffe's helmet flew off and Uggla's knee met his head with force. It kind of reminded me of Justin Morneau's collision back in 2010, which was pretty worrisome.

After Plouffe's collision, he laid on the field for a long while, holding his head. And he looked really woozy as he was escorted off the field. The Twins wasted no time and put him on the DL right after the game.

Fortunately, it appears that Plouffe is going to be ok. He's passed his concussion tests, and he's gone through some workouts with no lingering effects. He hopes to be back in the lineup as soon as he's eligible on Wednesday. I hope so too.

The Twins selected the contract of 3B Chris Colabello to replace Plouffe on the active roster and transferred Darin Mastrioanni to the 60-day DL to make room for Colabello on the 40-man roster.

Bonus reading: Here is an article from my friend Seth over at Twins Daily on Chris Colabello's interesting back story.


On Monday, the Twins placed OF Wilkin Ramirez on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. He suffered it on Sunday during the Tigers series when he ran into Josh Willingham while going for a fly ball. I didn't see the play, but apparently, Ramirez's jaw hit Willingham's forearm. Apparently, Josh Willingham has forearms like lead pipes.

The Tigers' team doctor diagnosed Ramirez. Ramirez initially disagreed with the diagnosis, claiming that the only portion of the concussion test he failed was naming the months backwards from December. He insisted that he can't normally name the months any way, English or Spanish.

(Admit it, you just named the months backwards from December.)

Ramirez wanted to appeal the DL stint, until the flight to Milwaukee. He got sick. It was later revealed that the months question was not the only part of the test he failed.

While I appreciate Ramirez's drive to stay on the active roster, I sincerely hope he realizes that brain injuries are nothing to fool around with. It's too soon to tell whether he'll recover quickly or not.

Catcher Chris Herrmann was recalled to replace Ramirez.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Injury Report: Mastroianni AND Wait...Who's This? Oswaldo Arcia (belated)

The Twins have placed Darin Mastroianni on the 15-day disabled list with a stress reaction to his left ankle.

A stress reaction is an injury to the bone, but no fracture is seen on the imaging -- kind of like a "pre- stress fracture," I guess. It's usually happens with runners, often caused by the force of pounding of the feet on the ground and compounded by improper shoes. It can also be caused by bone deficiencies like osteoporosis.

He's been nursing a sprained ankle and bone bruise since the last week of Spring Training. It's not clear if this is related to that, but I am willing to bet it is.

And recovery doesn't sound like it's going to be a walk in the park. He needs a boot. And he needs to be non-ambulatory for a while. In fact, according to the StarTribune's Phil Miller:

The Twins will recall Oswaldo Arcia to replace Mastro's roster spot.



Note: I should have introduced you to Oswaldo Arcia before Monday, because that's when he got to play. I figured I could get to it on Tuesday, but he was sent right back down (he was up because Wilkin Ramirez was on paternity leave). But now that we'll get a good, long look at him, here he is.

Wait Now...Who's This?

Oswaldo Arcia

Bats lefty; throws righty
Almost 22 years old

What he looks like:

Source: Getty Images

Where did he come from:

Signed as a 16-year-old free agent.

A few things to get excited about:

  • He's a highly-rated prospect
  • He's young
  • He has some power and is generally a good all-around hitter

A few things to temper your enthusiasm

  • His strikeout and walk rates are something one would want for a pitcher, but he's a hitter
  • He's not really a center fielder (in case you're thinking he could fill in for Aaron Hicks)
  • He's still young

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Injury Report: Cole DeVries and Wait Now...Who's This: Pedro Hernandez

The Twins have placed Cole DeVries on the 15-day Disabled List, retroactive to March 30, with a strained right forearm.

He noticed tightness during his final appearance in Spring Training. After resting it for a few days, he still felt tightness when throwing his breaking balls.

He and the Twins are taking a cautious approach; they don't want it to get worse. He's scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.

This is of concern to me because Nick Blackburn's woes started with forearm tightness. Here's hoping Cole's isn't as serious.

The Twins have recalled lefty pitcher Pedro Hernandez to replace DeVries on the roster.

In other transaction news: the Twins have activated pitcher Anthony Swarzak off the DL and optioned Tyler Robertson to AAA Rochester.


Wait Now...Who's This?

Pedro Hernandez

Starting Pitcher
Almost 24 years old

What he looks like:

Source: StarTribune

Where did he come from:

Acquired in the Francisco Liriano trade last season. Made Twins debut on Sunday.

A few things to get excited about:

  • He had an outstanding spring (not that that matters much)
  • He's young
  • He looked pretty sharp on Sunday

A few things to temper your enthusiasm

  • He's probably going to give up too many hits
  • He's probably not going to strike out very many batters
  • He's still young