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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Berrios will face Twins, and could it be a rerun of '06 spring finale?

FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins will close spring training with a game against their Class AAA club, the Rochester Red Wings, on Friday. There won’t be many people in the Hammond Stadium stands, but there could be a couple of interesting twists:

First, Jose Berrios is in line to pitch for the Red Wings. That would set him up to pitch Rochester’s season opener next Thursday. Let’s say young Jose goes five scoreless and strikes out nine or 10 … that would cause some outrage from the critics back home.

(And remember: At this point, there seem to be two forms of the prior Twins audience back in Minnesota -- the critics and the currently disinterested.)

Second, ByungHo Park could be in the Red Wings’ lineup after his tremendous spring training for the Twins, only to be gutted by management on Thursday morning and told to report to the Rochester club. Maybe he'll hit a couple of bombs off Kyle Gibson and the pitchers to follow for the Twins.

There also reason for Alex Wimmers to be upset that he pitched well enough to be in the Twins’ bullpen and wound up being sent to Rochester. Or perhaps J.T. Chargois still will be trying to figure out why he got sent down the road when there still was time to get his act together before the end of the Twins’ stay in Florida.

This will be the first time the Twins and the Red Wings have played an exhibition game at the end of spring training since 2006. That one was interesting for the enthusiasim with which the Red Wings plastered the Twins 15-3.

Thad Levine, the Twins general manager, said:

“We discussed that, actually – the possibility there are Rochester players who might be upset, perhaps justifiably, about not being on the big league team. Could something happen?’’

Probably not. Park, Berrios, Wimmers, Chargois … they seem like reasonable gentlemen who know that disappointment generally comes before success in the Grand Old Game.

Then again, the last time the Twins played the Red Wings in a spring-closing exhibition – on April 2, 2006 – it did not go quite as smoothly as the big-league manager, Ron Gardenhire, was hoping would be the case.

Here is the Star Tribune report on that game by the now-reformed baseball writer, Joe Christensen:

WHEN YOU’VE JUST BEEN blown out by your Class AAA affiliate, it's a little tough speaking confidently about your chances in the American League. The Twins faced that task Sunday, as they finished spring training with a 15-3 loss to the Rochester Red Wings at Hammond Stadium.

A Rochester lineup featuring Terry Tiffee, Jason Bartlett and some other recent cuts by the Twins seemed to take great pleasure in pounding the big-league counterparts.

Scott Baker, who just secured the Twins' No. 5 starting spot, gave up 10 runs in the second inning alone.

"I think a lot of our guys' minds were elsewhere," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're thinking about going [to Toronto], and that's too bad. We wanted to put up a little bit better fight than that, and they just kind of got us."

Several Twins players said they believe this is a better team than the one that left Fort Myers last April.

Some recent performances bolstered that confidence. They finished Grapefruit League play with six consecutive victories and a 19-13 record.

Joe Mauer, who had Sunday off, singled in his final seven at-bats. Jason Kubel hit .421 over his final eight games and added two RBI against Rochester, after tying Justin Morneau with a team-high 12 this spring.

Michael Cuddyer homered on three consecutive days. Kyle Lohse (5-0) carried a pitching staff that posted an AL-best 4.23 ERA.

Of course, when the Royals led all AL Central teams with a 17-10 record, it's hard to put much stock in the numbers.

"It's a different story on April 3 and 4," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "Everything turns. But we feel good about the club."

Before heading to Toronto, where they'll open the season Tuesday, the Twins ran into a Rochester buzzsaw.

Watching Baker struggle was unsettling. He had posted a 3.52 ERA this spring, winning the battle for the No. 5 spot over Francisco Liriano.

Facing Rochester, Baker was charged with 11 earned runs and 10 hits and didn’t last two innings.

"He just didn't have it today," Gardenhire said. "He was up in the zone and got whacked around, and they scored and scored and scored.’’

The game even featured a little friction. Tiffee, who had been cut a day earlier, took a hard slide into second base in the first inning, knocking Twins shortstop Juan Castro off balance on a potential double-play ball.

When Tiffee came up the next inning, he and catcher Mike Redmond had words.

"Tiff likes to play the game, and he plays the game hard," Gardenhire said. "I think Red Dog just wanted to make sure he understood that we're not going to try and get anybody killed here."

Tiffee finished 3-for-4 with three line-drive singles, and Bartlett went 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored.

"That's what you'd expect them to do," Gardenhire said.

[ADDENDUM, 11 years later: Really, Gardy? If that’s what you expected, why didn’t you keep ‘em – although Bartlett did come back in June and was a big help as the shortstop for the division-winning “Piranhas.’’]

Reusse: Falvey leaves Twins' players open-mouthed by cutting Park

FORT MYERS, FLA. –There was a relief pitcher who was taken off the bubble a day earlier, sitting in front of his locker early on Thursday morning. This was in a row of pitchers who were doing the same, most looking at their cell phones.

This tall gentleman was looking around the Twins clubhouse and then caught the attention of the other pitchers. Then, he mouthed the words: “Park was cut.’’

There were quizzical looks in return, and he again mouthed the message: “Park was cut.’’

There was a mass rolling of the eyes among the other pitchers getting this message.

There was shock in the home clubhouse at Hammond Stadium, and it started with the player himself:

ByungHo Park, after a magnificent spring training, had been escorted into manager Paul Molitor’s office, where Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine were also present.

There, Park was told that he would not be returned to the Twins’ 40-player big-league roster, to serve as the designated hitter when the season opens on Monday at Target Field.

Instead, Park was told that he would stay on Rochester’s Class AAA roster, and would be with the Red Wings when their season opens later next week.

Park had been taken off the Twins’ roster in the first week of February, and with three years remaining on his contract, he passed through waivers. This wasn’t a surprise, considering the problems Park had against big-league pitching. He was sent down to Rochester last summer after those problems became severe.

He also had a wrist injury in mid-summer and didn’t get a September recall. There was minor surgery on the wrist, and back in Korea, he stayed low key and worked diligently to improve the timing of his swing.

Park showed up early in Fort Myers and worked out daily at the minor league fields. He was in big-league camp as an invitee.

A major issue in his rookie season in North America was starting early to catch up with a big-league fastball. You could see that even in spring training of 2016. There was little evidence of that this spring. He wasn’t jumping out to hit fastballs; he was getting to them with his normal swing.

Park hit home runs in back-to-back games to end his exhibition stay with the Twins: He hit a laser to right-center to beat Tampa Bay 1-0 on Tuesday, and then hit a moon shot over Fenway South’s version of the Green Monster to beat the Red Sox 5-3 on Wednesday..

This put Park’s numbers at .353 with six home runs and 13 RBI, and a more-than-acceptable 15 strikeouts (with six walks) in 57 plate appearances. For a week, the occupants of the Twins’ clubhouse had been certain that Park would open the season as the big-league DH.

A casual conversation with Glen Perkins early Thursday morning included the rehabbing reliever giving a nod toward Park’s locker and saying: “He’s had a great spring. The swing looks much better.’’

A few minutes later, Park was retrieved to go to Molitor’s office, and word spread that ByungHo was being sent across the parking lot to the minor league complex.

The message from the previous general manager, Terry Ryan, always was: Don’t get overly excited about what you see in spring training.

The message from the new brain trust, Falvey and Levine, was more clear on Thursday:Don’t pay any attention to what you see in spring training.

They didn’t flat out say it, but they didn’t have to.

They cut a right-handed hitter with a chance to get into a pitch against Kansas City lefthander Danny Duffy on Monday in Target Field, in favor of having an additional long reliever.

They cut a hitter with power who had fully earned a second chance to open a season as the Twins’ DH, so as not to take Buddy Boshers off the 40-man roster.

And the reason that's closest to the truth might be this

Molitor wanted veteran Nick Tepesch added to the roster as his long reliever. Falvey made him keep Justin Haley, the Rule 5 draftee, over Tepesch. And since Haley doesn't figure to be reliable as a pitcher to get the Twins from the fourth to the seventh when needed, it was decided to have two long relievers already on the 40-man roster -- meaning, Tyler Duffey to go with Haley.

I don’t want to overreact to this absurd decision on Park from the Twins' first-ever Chief Baseball Officer, but does the name of the Timberwolves' first President of Basketball Operations, David Kahn, ring a bell?

OK, we didn't get a "bifurcate'' as could be counted on from Kahn, but we did get this from Falvey as he summarized the decision to go with 13 pitchers:

"We had to pivot a few different times to the different iterations of those rosters.''

I remember Calvin telling us that one year at Tinker Field after settling on his 25 for Opening Day. Or maybe not.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Tampa Bay (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • L.A. Lakers at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Ottawa at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Rochester at Twins (exhibition)

    11:05 am

  • Wild at Nashville

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Sacramento at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29, 1500-AM

  • Colorado at Wild

    5 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Kansas City at Twins

    3:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Portland at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Carolina at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Golden State

    9:30 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Kansas City at Twins

    12:10 pm on FSN, MLBN, 96.3-FM

  • Kansas City at Twins

    12:10 pm on FSN, MLBN, 96.3-FM

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    7:10 PM


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    8:40 PM

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