Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Arcia out of lineup with sore right hand

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 5, 2014 - 11:15 AM

CLEVELAND -- Today may be the coldest game the Twins play this season, and that's saying something for a team from Minneapolis. (And yeah, I probably just jinxed it.) It's 36 degrees at Progressive Field at the moment, but that's not the problem. The flags are standing straight out, whipped by a wind that's gusting up to 30-35 degrees.

The cold has already cost the Twins one of their players. Oswaldo Arcia has been batting with a sore right hand for the past few days, a condition he came down with in the batting cage in Chicago earlier this week. Ron Gardenhire noticed him grimacing at the plate last night, but Arcia insists he's OK. The manager, however, is taking no chances, not in the near-freezing temperatures. The Twins suspect he was bothered by a sore hand last year, too, and don't want this to linger.

The result: Jason Kubel is in right field today, for the first time this season. Along with Josh Willingham in left, it's safe to say speed isn't the strong suit of the outfield defense today.

Kyle Gibson will be on the mound for the first time this season, taking possession of that fifth-starters job he won in the spring. The game is on Fox Sports 1.

Here are today's lineups:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Willingham LF

Colabello DH

Plouffe 3B

Kubel RF

Pinto C

Hicks CF

Florimon SS

 

Gibson RHP

 

INDIANS

 

Morgan CF

Swisher 1B

Kipnis 2B

Santana DH

Brantley LF

Cabrera SS

Murphy RF

Gomes C

Chisenhall 3B

 

Carrasco RHP

Play ball! Twins underway in Cleveland after rain delay

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB, Off the field Updated: April 4, 2014 - 3:43 PM

    UPDATED UPDATE: After about 75 minutes of waiting, much of it in bright sunshine, the storm came and went in about 15 minutes. The tarp is being rolled out, and players have begun to troop into the dugout. The Indians intend to conduct their Opening Day ceremony as planned, and have announced that first pitch should occur around 4:15 CDT. That's about two hours, 10 minutes after its schedule start time.

    UPDATE: The Indians just put the weather radar on their scoreboard to illustrate for fans why, though it's not raining at the moment, the game will not start as scheduled at 2 p.m. CDT. There's another line of storms moving into the area, but it looks relatively clear once it passes. So the tarp is on the field, and we're awaiting the rain, in hopes of playing the game without interruption afterward. The team has made no guess yet about when the game will begin.

    CLEVELAND -- Greetings from Progressive Field, where the rain that soaked Chicago yesterday has followed the Twins for another day. The grounds crew pulled the tarp off the field about an hour ago, but the rain has returned and the infield is covered once more. The forecast says the rain will return intermittently all day, but we expect to get the game in. It's the Indians' home opener, after all.

    Talk in the clubhouse before the game was about Ron Gardenhire and his pursuit of 1,000 victories, which has taken longer than anticipated, to say the least. The Twins' 3-16 finish to 2013 stalled the manager at 998 wins, and the Twins took just one of three in Chicago to open the season. Gardenhire's wife Carol is on the trip to witness the milestone, and the manager joked before the game that she had no intention of coming to Cleveland. But here she is.

    And here are the Twins, arriving on the same day the Indians announce they've locked up one of their cornerstone players, second baseman Jason Kipnis, with a six-year, $52.5 million contract. He'll bat third today for Cleveland, in front of new third baseman Carlos Santana, their converted catcher. Interestingly, the Indians are using their previous third baseman, Lonnie Chisenhall, as the designated hitter, batting ninth.

    The Twins' DH is Chris Colabello, getting his first start against a right-handed pitcher, Danny Salazar. Colabello's six-RBI performance on Thursday moved him into second place in the American League in RBIs.

    Here are the lineups for today's game, a schedule 2:05 p.m. (CDT) first pitch:

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Willingham LF

Colabello DH

Plouffe 3B

Arcia RF

Suzuki C

Hicks CF

Florimon SS

 

Pelfrey RHP

 

INDIANS

 

Morgan CF

Swisher 1B

Kipnis 2B

Santana 3B

Brantley LF

Cabrera SS

Murphy RF

Gomes C

Chisenhall DH

 

Salazar RHP

 

Tarp off, looks like Twins game is on in soggy Chicago

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 3, 2014 - 11:56 AM

    CHICAGO -- Opinions are mixed here at U.S. Cellular Field about whether today's 1:10 p.m. game between the Twins and White Sox will be played. A steady, cold rain is falling, and the current temperature is 37 degrees.

    But the White Sox employees I've encountered here at the ballpark believe we'll wait out the rain, which is supposed to slack off by 2 p.m. I'm skeptical -- the temperature isn't supposed to reach 40 degrees, the field is soaked, and both teams have flights to make day games tomorrow. Besides, I cannot imagine more than a couple hundred fans showing up in this awful weather; there were only 10,000 here (or so they say) in chilly but dry conditions tomorrow.

    If they do play, Phil Hughes will make his Twins debut, facing White Sox lefthander Jose Quintana.

    The Twins have arrived and are in the visiting clubhouse, with batting practice cancelled. Check back to see who's right about today's game.

    UPDATE: So much for my weather-predicting skills. It's still raining lightly, but the grounds crew has removed the tarp and is preparing the infield. There still are a couple of puddles visible in the outfield, but we're told they will disappear soon. The Twins have broken out their cold-weather gear, and all signs point to the game going on as scheduled.

    It's 36 degrees at the moment and overcast, so it'll be plenty cold and wet. That may have something to do with Ron Gardenhire's decision to make Joe Mauer the designated hitter today, and put Chris Colabello at first base. "He's a mudder," Gardenhire said of Colabello.

    Here are today's lineups, including the 2014 debut for Hughes and Josmil Pinto:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer DH

Willingham LF

Colabello 1B

Plouffe 3B

Arcia RF

Pinto C

Hicks CF

Escobar SS

 

Hughes RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

Eaton CF

Semien 3B

Abreu 1B

Dunn DH

A. Garcia RF

De Aza LF

Ramirez SS

Flowers C

L. Garcia 2B

 

Quintana LHP

Pregame: Kubel moves into cleanup spot

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 2, 2014 - 12:04 PM

    CHICAGO -- The napkin proves what Ron Gardenhire has been saying: He hasn't settled on a lineup yet for the Twins, and might not for awhile.

    (There was some sort of technical glitch with the printer in the clubhouse, so coach Joe Vavra jotted the lineup on a napkin and taped it to the whiteboard. It was entertaining to watch ballplayers do a double-take as they passed by looking for the lineup.)

    One game after Kurt Suzuki drove in three runs from the No. 2 spot in the lineup, the catcher has been shuffled five spots lower, with an ex-catcher taking his place. White Sox righthander Felipe Paulino is on the mound today, and Gardenhire moved Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham up a spot, batting second and third behind Brian Dozier.

    It's Paulino's first start as a member of the White Sox, and first appearance since June 6, 2012. Paulino missed all of last year after having elbow surgery.

    Jason Kubel is the cleanup hitter, and he's in the outfield, too, with Willingham spending the day as DH. It's a good day to stay warm in the dugout; the scoreboard currently reads 36 degrees, and there's a steady wind blowing toward right field. That's 30 degrees colder than Monday's game-time temperature.

    Brian Duensing will rejoin the Twins tonight after the birth of his son Boston on Monday, and the team will announce a corresponding move, presumably returning Michael Tonkin to Rochester, after today's game.

    Here are the lineups for the 1:10 p.m. start:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Willingham DH

Kubel LF

Plouffe 3B

Arcia RF

Suzuki C

Hicks CF

Florimon SS

 

Correia RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

Eaton CF

Semien 3B

Abreu 1B

Dunn DH

A Garcia RF

De Aza LF

Ramirez SS

Flowers C

L Garcia 2B

 

Paulino RHP

Postgame: Colabello a bright spot in Twins' loss

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: March 31, 2014 - 8:44 PM

    CHICAGO -- Chris Colabello laced a single to left field in the second inning, a hit that belies his reputation as an inside-out hitter.

    He says it's the real him. If that's the case, he could wind up being even more valuable than the Twins think.

    "I was a pure pull hitter at the start of last year. I think my first six home runs were all to left field," Colabello said after the Twins' 5-3 loss to the White Sox. "Then in late May, a light came on that I could wait a little longer and still hit it a long way to right."

    That's the Colabello that the Twins saw when he was called up last August, a guy who stood back from the plate and tried to direct everything toward right-center. It's an approach that helped him win the International League MVP last year, but he got in trouble when major league pitchers discovered he had no answer when they came in on his hands.

    Now? "I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with inside pitches," Colabello said, and that sharp single down the line, off one of baseball's best lefthanders in Chris Sale, was pretty good evidence. He also went the other way once more in the ninth inning, when he lined a double into the corner, a ball that may have cleared the fence if not for the steady wind coming in from right field.

    Colabello might not play every day, but if he's able to hit the ball to all fields, and hit even inside pitches hard, he could earn more at-bats as the designated hitter than expected.

    "He could have been in Korea, but we're glad to have him right here. He's had a hell of a spring," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He took a chance and it's paying off. He's in the big leagues."

A few Opening Day bugs in replay equipment

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: March 31, 2014 - 2:09 PM

    CHICAGO -- Ron Gardenhire was waving a laminated card in his office this afternoon, a handy guide provided by MLB to remind each manager of the basics of the new replay rules. On one side are the basic procedures, on the other is a menu-style list of plays that can and cannot be challenged. Gardenhire joked that he looks like a football coach with a play list.

    Will he take that card with him on the field? "I wish I could," Gardenhire joked. Pointing at it like he's ordering dinner, he said, "Yes, I'd like to challenge this one and this one, please."

    The Hawkeye system that baseball has installed for both teams looks impressive in the back of the clubhouse, with two high-def screens (about 25-inch diameter, they're not huge) and eight camera angles visible on each. The system has features like a five-second-delay view, so if you see a close call live, you can see it again seconds later without cuing it up. There's a mouse to select the various views, and a keyboard to run each one back and forth as many times as you like.

    It's an impressive system, but a little overwhelming at first glance. And considering that Sean Harlin, the Twins' director of major league video, has been given only minimal training with the system -- a demonstration, but not much hands-on time -- it's a lot to ask for everyone to be up to speed from Day 1.

    A couple of problems: The screens are at eye level when you stand, but the chair provided is normal height, so you sit several feet below the screen. The White Sox were trying to scrounge up a bar stool for Harlin.

    Much worse: While Harlin was practicing with the system, it twice blew a fuse, knocking it out of action for at least a half-hour. "Sean's having a heart attack," Gardenhire said. Technicians were trying to figure out the problem, but it definitely added to the stress level.

    But only a little. It's hard to get too worked up about much on Opening Day, when everyone is optimistic and excited. It was fun to talk to Chris Colabello about his first big-league Opening Day, something he's dreamed about for years. He won a job, is in the starting lineup today as the designated hitter, and will even be wearing the number he always wanted, having switched to No. 20 after wearing 55 last year.

    It's a beautiful 65-degree day in Chicago, sunny and windy. It's not supposed to stay that way all week, but it's a pretty great way to open the season.

    One guy who's not here is having an even better day: Pitcher Brian Duensing, whose wife Lisa gave birth to the couple's second child this morning. Boston Matthew Duensing was born at 9:19 a.m. this morning in Omaha.

    Here are the lineups for the first of 162 games:

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Suzuki C

Mauer 1B

Willingham LF

Colabello DH

Plouffe 3B

Arcia RF

Hicks CF

Florimon SS

 

Nolasco RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

Eaton CF

Semien 2B

Gillaspie 3B

Abreu 1B

Dunn DH

Garcia RF

De Aza LF

Ramirez SS

Flowers C

 

Sale LHP

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