Jim Souhan: If younger arms prove adept, can team adapt?

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 2, 2007 - 8:51 PM

Less experienced pitchers are outperforming the veterans brought in to round out the Twins starting rotation.

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Friday night, the view from the Hammond Stadium stands featured a fluorescent moon suspended above the first base stands; pink cirrus clouds beyond the left field fence; a new grass berm filled with families down the right field line; and headlights streaming down Six Mile Cypress toward the Twins' first home spring training game, which should be some kind of Minnesota holiday.

Like a snow day, only with palm trees and tropical breezes. Those of us in Fort Myers have to be careful this week -- stand behind the batting cage long enough, you can get a touch of sunburn on the back of your neck. Think of it as frostbite that goes away.

Anyway, Friday you could also see most of the team that won 96 games last year take the field together for the first time this spring.

The 2007 Twins have just about everything you could want -- speed, fielding, youth, experience, strength up the middle, power, chemistry, an exceptional bullpen, winners of the Cy Young, MVP, batting title and Gold Glove, and a manager who has made the playoffs in four of his five seasons.

Yes, the Twins have everything but what they usually covet most -- a rotation that can keep the capillaries in Ron Gardenhire's face from bursting like postgame fireworks.

Johan Santana might be the best starting pitcher in the game. Boof Bonser looked the most polished of the Twins' young starters during the pennant race last year. After that, it's three guys looking for "bounce-back" seasons -- the spring euphemism for players who stunk last year.

The Twins picked up the option on Carlos Silva's contract for $4.35 million so he could be the No. 2 starter behind Cy Santana. He pitched on Thursday against the Yankees and gave up five runs in two innings. The problem is, he's a sinkerballer whose pitches still aren't sinking.

The Twins signed Ramon Ortiz for $3.1 million, and received this scouting report: He allows one bad inning to beat him. Friday, Ortiz started, and allowed one run in two innings.

The Twins signed Sidney Ponson for $1 million, guaranteed only if he makes the team. He cleared up his visa problems on Friday, and has assured us that his drinking problems are over now that he limits his alcohol to wine with dinner. Is that the 13th step of the 12-step program -- drinking only with meals?

This is a fragile rotation, and the Twins are committed to starting the season with Silva and Ortiz no matter how they perform this spring, because GM Terry Ryan, a beer & brats guy from Wisconsin, eats salary about as often as he eats tofu.

It's early, but you can see the potential for several young pitchers to outperform the three veterans enlisted to fill out the rotation.

Wednesday, Matt Garza again demonstrated that he has the second-best stuff among the starting pitchers in camp, easing through two shutout innings against the Red Sox and striking out David Ortiz with a nasty slider. He's the only pitcher in camp currently capable of being a true No. 2 starter.

Thursday, Kevin Slowey deked his way through two shutout innings against the same Yankees who destroyed Silva. He lacks a dominant pitch but is known for his control, composure and pitching intelligence.

He's a slim, talkative and bespectacled righthander who Twins coaches were calling "Hershiser" on the back field Friday, because of his resemblance to former Dodger ace Orel (Verbal) Hershiser.

Friday, former U lefty Glen Perkins, like Garza a first-round pick, allowed a high-pop home run down the right field line to Spring Training Twin Killer Edwin Encarnacion but otherwise had an easy two innings in relief of Ortiz.

Last year, the Twins started the season with Tony Batista at third and Juan Castro at short and turned their season around when they went to Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto.

This spring, the Twins could face a similar choice -- limited veterans or unproven kids?

If the rotation flounders in April, they better not wait until June to go young.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 84 4th Qtr
New Orleans 89
Indiana 79 4th Qtr 9:14
Orlando 86
LA Clippers 89 4th Qtr 11:19
Phoenix 78
Minnesota 77 4th Qtr 12:00
Atlanta 86
Detroit 48 2nd Qtr 3:28
Toronto 47
Milwaukee 48 2nd Qtr 3:51
San Antonio 40
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 17 3rd Prd 2:52
Team Foligno 11
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 53 2nd Half 11:14
NC State 53
Belmont 28 2nd Half 17:01
Tennessee St 34
Creighton 14 2nd Half
Villanova 29
Northwestern 17 1st Half 11:55
Maryland 11
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 70 2nd Half 1:16
UCLA 53
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close