Hartman: Ryan says Twins have to put pitching and hitting together

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 27, 2012 - 11:45 PM

Before the Twins' 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, General Manager Terry Ryan talked about how a team is going to struggle when it doesn't put pitching and hitting together.

Well the Twins are 15-32 after Sunday's loss, and and once again they lost because they couldn't put pitching and hitting together.

The pitchers Sunday did a good job, allowing only two runs until Matt Capps gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth. But the Twins once again couldn't take advantage of a lot of opportunities, leaving 11 men on base and not getting key hits when it counted.

"When you can't put it together you're going to struggle," Ryan said. "That means you really are going to have to pitch until your offense gets going, and that's exactly what we need. We need good starting pitching to allow our offense to get going and see if we can put some runs on the board.

"It's not just our starting pitching. We had chances here in the last couple days to bunch together some hits and some runs, and we didn't get it done. It's been a combination of things."

Ryan added: "We haven't scored a whole lot. We do think that we've got some offense on this club. [Justin] Morneau and [Joe] Mauer and Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham are guys who have a career history of being able to produce with the bat some. We're hoping that will come around."

Willingham, who hit .347 with five home runs and 15 RBI in April, is hitting .270 with three home runs and only 12 RBI this month. That gives him eight home runs and 27 RBI and a .267 average so far. He is on pace to roughly match last year's totals with Oakland, when he hit .246 with 29 homers and 98 RBI.

Ryan said he isn't worried about the righthanded slugger's slow month.

"I'm not all that concerned about Willingham," Ryan said. "He knows what he's doing. I think he'll bounce back.''

Speaking of pitching, Ryan said he thought that former Eden Prairie and Gophers pitcher Cole De Vries did OK in his major league debut Thursday until he gave up a home run to the White Sox's Paul Konerko in the sixth inning. It wasn't a good matchup, according to Ryan, but De Vries will get another chance to start.

"He's going to get the ball again," Ryan said. "He's got pitches, he knows what he's doing on the mound. Location is the main piece of his approach. He's going to have to locate."

The Twins are so desperate for starting pitching that the plan is to give Francisco Liriano, who is 0-5 with an 8.47 ERA and had been sent to the bullpen, the chance to start Wednesday against Oakland.

"We're going to give him another opportunity to get in the rotation, which is all he's asking for," Ryan said. "He wants to start. We're going to give him a chance and see how he responds.

''He gives you glimpses that he's turning it around, and then sometimes he'll fall back into not throwing the ball in the strike zone. Obviously we're begging for starting pitching and Frankie has a chance to be one of those guys if he'd just throw the ball over the plate."

The three pitchers recently called up from Rochester -- P.J. Walters, Scott Diamond and De Vries -- have given the team a chance to win with them on the mound.

"De Vries is going to get an opportunity here," Ryan said. "He's been pretty good in the minor leagues, and he's going to get a chance."

Free agents to help

Coach Leslie Frazier said he believes the free agents the Vikings signed during the offseason could be surprise additions to the roster.

"We're hoping that some of the guys that we signed in our secondary, Chris Carr, Zack Bowman, will create some competition for us back there, and if nothing else give us some depth and help our special teams," Frazier. "The same thing on the offensive line with Geoff Schwartz, signing him. We think he's going to be a good addition for us, create competition, give us some depth. Then, of course, with the signing of Jerome Simpson, we have high hopes for him, being an outside receiver that can give us a vertical threat that we've been lacking. We think we've made some signings that we think can improve our team, but time will tell."

Jottings

• One person who might lose out when the Metrodome is torn down and the new Vikings stadium is opened is former Vikings GM Mike Lynn, who, as part of his contract, has been receiving $500,000-plus a year through profits on luxury suites. When the new stadium is built you wonder if Lynn might go to court and claim that his agreement continues with the new stadium.

• There is little doubt that Ted Mondale, head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission that runs the Metrodome, will be named chairman of the five-man committee that will be selected -- three by the governor and two by the mayor -- to run the new stadium.

• Once the Metrodome is torn down to make way for the new stadium, the word is that there is a market for the Dome's roof, which was replaced recently after the previous roof collapsed in a snow storm. It could be sold for around $20 million. The question is: Does the insurance company that paid for the roof share in the money?

• There is a good chance that the architects who designed Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be hired to do the same job on the new Vikings stadium.

• The Wilfs, owners of the Vikings, have indicated that they would like to pattern the new stadium after Indianapolis' stadium. Lucas Oil Stadium stadium cost $720 million to build, with the use of some parts of the old stadium bringing the cost down. And incidentally, the naming rights for the Lucas Oil Stadium brought the Colts $122 million over a 20-year period.

• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill said that the team has had seven coaches on the road recruiting for the class of 2013: "I think things have been good. I think recruiting is going well. Again we have to be selective, we don't have a lot of scholarships at this point available, so we'll have to be selective; this is a small senior class. That's a good thing in some matters but tough in others. But we have to do a good job and make sure we get the right people in."

• Former Twins third baseman Danny Valencia has brought his Rochester average up to .268 after a very slow start with the minor league club.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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