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.
This morning was picture day for the Twins, the day when the teams tries to take care of all the entities who need photos of the players all at once. The scoreboard operation people are here, the baseball card people, several media outlets, MLB, all to get updated shots of each of the nearly 70 guys in camp.
Each player puts on his game uniform and goes station to station, about 10 in all, and spends 30 seconds to a minute at each. It's quite an assembly line, and like the autograph seekers, the photographers tend to ask more of the stars. Swing the bat, Joe. Stop on your follow-through, Justin. Pretend you're doing a pickoff move, Glen. It's entertaining to watch.
The Twins are wearing their white-front batting practice caps for the first time this spring, the same ones they'll wear before games at Target Field this summer. They had been wearing red caps during the first week; those are for batting practice on the road once the season starts. Available at all Twins gift shops, I'm sure. I was getting used to the red ones, but I'm not crazy about the white. They really look odd when several players are standing together. (You can see the white cap on my Twitter account, @MillerStrib.)
Speaking of uniforms, that Brian Dozier No. 20 jersey you bought last year is obsolete now. With Denard Span traded to Washington, Dozier has adopted his old No. 2, a better fit for a guy who is fighting to become the regular second baseman.
"I hated 20, so of course that's what I got" when he first arrived, Dozier said. "It wasn't a big deal, a jersey's a jersey, but I wanted to change."
The Twins actually wanted him to change, too, because they have so many pitchers -- 35 now -- in camp this spring. They don't have many numbers available (with retired numbers, all the extra staff members, and so many minor leaguers around), and didn't want to give a pitcher a single-digit number. So they asked Dozier to switch, "a win-win for me," said the Mississippi native, who wore 12 and 4 in college and the minors. "Two is good. Maybe Denard's number has a little more magic in it."
So update your rosters: New reliever Josh Roenicke is now wearing No. 20, though he was first assigned 56. But that went to Rafael Perez when he signed with the Twins last week.
One other note: Add one and possibly two more players to the Twins' WBC contingent. Samuel Deduno has been added to the starting rotation for the Dominican Republic, and will leave March 3 with the other WBC Twins. And Jamey Carroll, according to the Twins, is on Team USA's reserve list, available for call-up should someone suffer an injury. That brings the list to 12 Twins, and possibly 13, headed to the World Baseball Classic next month.
Drills have begun now, and we'll see some more live batting practice sessions today featuring Kevin Correia, Brian Duensing, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, and Glen Perkins, among others. I hesitate to mention it, knowing what's going on in Minnesota today, but the weather has warmed up considerably here; it's 67 and sunny now, headed for the mid-70s. Stay warm.
Well folks, the time has come to switch blogs. After eight years covering the Twins for the Star Tribune, I’ve moved to the Gophers football beat, swapping places with Phil Miller.
As much as I love baseball writing, I requested the change, so I could spend less time on the road and more time at home with Julie C and our two young kids. I’m excited for the chance to cover college football, and it’s nice knowing the Star Tribune’s baseball beat is in good hands with Phil and La Velle.
Before signing off here, I want to thank everyone who stopped by Around the Majors over the years. If you haven’t yet, please add Gridiron Gold to your bookmarks, and you can come along for the ride as I make the transition from Target Field to TCF Bank Stadium.
The Twins placed center fielder Denard Span on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury after Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Mariners and announced that they would make a corresponding move in time for Friday's game in Kansas City.
Teams can expand their active rosters on Saturday, but the Twins did this today so they can recall outfielder Matt Carson from Rochester on Friday. Carson was demoted back to the minors on Aug. 23, and players must spend 10 days in the minors after being optioned -- unless the team has a DL situation.
The Twins would have used Span off the bench, at least, in Thursday's loss, but he wasn't available.
Span hasn't played since Monday, so he'll be eligible to return Sept. 12. But his right shoulder has been bothering him since he rolled awkwardly trying to make a catch on Aug. 12. He was listed as day-to-day, but missed nine games before returning to the lineup.
Span had another MRI exam on Wednesday and was diagnosed with a strained sternoclavicular joint. He was told it's an injury that won't fully heal until the offseason, but he was determined to try to play when it was manageable.
"I had my bags packed [for Kansas City] this morning and was ready to go on the road trip," Span said. "But I had a talk with [GM Terry Ryan], and we agreed that maybe it was just best to take a few more days to get some of the swelling out of the ligament that’s swollen and see where I’m at in 10 days."
Span couldn't rule out the chance that he's finished for the season.
"We’ll see [on Sept. 12], depending on how it feels," he said. "Hopefully these next 10 days it’ll heal enough to where I can finish the season off and start that healing process again during the offseason.
"But I’m just going to listen to my body. Hopefully these 10 days and the treatment and the anti-inflammatories will help out, but I’m going to be smart as well, when I come off the DL, and do what I think is best."
BOSTON -- There’s an entry in today’s Twins press notes that nobody would have expected to see two weeks ago.
“How About Those Twins Starters,” the headline says, and the item goes on to say that, in their past nine games, Twins starting pitchers have posted a 2.20 ERA, with just three home runs allowed, and an opponents batting average of .204.
They’ve pitched at least six innings in eight of those nine starts, and not coincidentally, the Twins are 7-2 in that stretch.
Today, Nick Blackburn will face the Red Sox, completing the second turn through the rotation since this streak began. He held the White Sox to two runs on five hits over eight innings last Tuesday, but wound up with a no-decision in a 4-3 loss.
With Josh Beckett missing a start, Boston counters with lefthander Franklin Morales, who has posted a 3.32 ERA in 33 appearances this year, including five starts.
The Red Sox are reeling. Their clubhouse is filled with turmoil, and media members are on alert, wondering if Bobby Valentine will get fired. The Twins hadn’t won three straight games in Boston since 1994, and today, Minnesota can get its first four-game sweep at Fenway since 1991.
Stat of the day: Morales has a 6.08 ERA at Fenwary Park with the Red Sox, and a 1.28 ERA on the road. Hat tip to the Boston's Globe's Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe on Twitter).
Update: Just a standard day off for Denard Span. Ben Revere slides into the leadoff spot, and this keeps Darin Mastroianni in the lineup.
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Darin Mastroianni, RF
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Brian Dozier, SS
8. Alexi Casilla, 2B
9. Jamey Carroll, 3B
Starting pitcher: RH Nick Blackburn (4-6, 7.43 ERA)
RED SOX (53-55)
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Cody Ross, DH
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Will Middlebooks, 3B
8. Ryan Kalish, RF
9. Mike Aviles, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Franklin Morales (2-2, 3.32 ERA)
Fenway Park. First pitch: 12:35 p.m. (Central). TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network
Follow along on Twitter: @JoeCStrib
The Twins have Carl Pavano lined up to pitch Wednesday’s season finale, and they really hope he has a chance to help the team avoid 100 losses.
A win Monday would have been nice, but they squandered a 3-1, sixth-inning lead in an eventual 7-3 loss against the Royals.
So they’re 61-99 with two to play. It’ll be Anthony Swarzak vs. Kansas City’s Sean O’Sullivan on Tuesday.
“It’s extremely important,” Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. “As I said the other day, pride factor. You don’t want to have a triple digit in the loss column. You don’t want to lose 99 either; I guess we don’t have a choice for that one.”
Before the bottom fell out in August and September, the Twins had climbed back to respectability. They were 20 games under .500 before reeling off a 15-2 stretch in June.
“Think of where we’d be if it weren’t for that run,” Cuddyer said.
That’s a staggering thought.
“I just know we haven’t played very well this year,” said Cuddyer, whose two-run homer Monday gave him 20 homers and 70 RBI. “You can’t fault our effort. We’ve given effort, we’ve run balls out, we’ve tried. We just haven’t been very good.”
Update: The Brewers rallied to beat the Twins 4-3 on a two-run double by Prince Fielder with two outs in the seventh inning. The hit came off reliever Jose Mijares, who fell behind Fielder 3-and-0 and then threw an inside fastball on a full-count pitch.
Come back to startribune.com later for more details.
MILWAUKEE -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau will have surgery next Wednesday to relieve a pinched nerve in his neck, and is expected to be out until August the team said today.
Morneau, 30, was dealing with the neck issue before going on the DL with a strained left wrist. He was scheduled to have the cast removed today, and since he wasn't regaining strength as the Twins had hoped, they advised him to see a neck specialist who recommended the surgery.
"It’s a very non-invasive procedure that he’ll have to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck, and he should be back playing full in six weeks," Twins trainer Rick McWane said.
"I want to emphasize this isn’t something [Morneau] was actively pursuing," McWane added. "It was his desire to try to fight through this, and as an organization -- our team doctors wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to jeopardize anything down the road.
"Even though the risk is small, there still is a risk that if he continued to play through this that his full strength would not come back, so we made the decision."
MAUER TO PLAY SOME FIRST BASE?
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he has advised Joe Mauer to get a first baseman's glove, to give the team another occasional option to fill in for Morneau. Gardenhire said Mauer is open to doing that.
"It’s just a casual conversation," Gardenhire said. "It was nothing in-depth, believe me, and he says he’ll do whatever it takes. That’s all I wanted."
* Jim Thome will take batting practice today and could be activated from the DL after the game. Gardenhire said he might want to keep three catchers, which led to the discussion about the possibility of giving Mauer some time at first base.
Denard Span (concussion) played catch and hit off the tee and felt no symptoms, so this was a good day for him. Also Jason Kubel had a good day running with his sprained left foot.
Quick fact: The Brewers are 26-11 at home and 15-24 on the road.
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
9. Scott Baker, RHP (5-4, 3.24 ERA)
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Corey Hart, RF
7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
8. George Kottaras, C
9. Randy Wolf, LHP (5-4, 3.15 ERA)
Miller Park. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network
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