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.
Bill Smith never really left the Twins, and now he's officially back as Assistant to the President and General Manager.
He spent four years as the GM before the Twins replaced him with Terry Ryan in November. The Twins immediately began discussing this new position with Smith and gave him some time to think about it.
Smith was seen at Target Field multiple times during the transition. He'll begin working under his new title on Jan. 1. Among his tasks:
* He'll continue to work with Lee County, fostering relationships he's been building since the Twins spring training facility opened in 1991. The Twins hope to do some major renovations on the facility for 2013.
* Assessing the team's player development in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc.
* Smith helped lead a seamless transition from the Metrodome to Target Field, and the Twins will have him lead their efforts on developing and maintaining their baseball-related facilities (Target Field, Hammond Stadium, etc.).
* Smith, a longtime member of baseball's minor-league advisory board, will work with Twins minor league director Jim Rantz on maintaining relationships with the team's affiliates.
"All of us with the ballclub are thrilled to have Bill Smith staying with the Twins family," team president Dave St. Peter said in the announcement. "His many contributions during a 25-plus year tenure with the Twins has directly resulted in much of the success this franchise has enjoyed on and off the field. To that end, we are excited to have this opportunity to have him on board with hopes of maximizing his many talents."
The Twins announced their 2011 Diamond Awards winners today, based on the voting conducted by the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
All winners will be honored at the seventh annual Diamond Awards dinner on Jan. 26, 2012 at Target Field, with proceeds benefiting the University of Minnesota's research on ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and ALS. (For ticket info, call 612-624-444 or click here.)
Most Valuable Twin: Michael Cuddyer
Twins Pitcher of the Year: Glen Perkins
Most Improved Twin: Perkins
Most Outstanding Rookie: Ben Revere
Upper Midwest Player of the Year: Des Moines native Jeremy Hellickson (Tampa Bay Rays)
Bob Allison Award (leadership on and off the field): Cuddyer
Mike Augustin Award (media good guy): Cuddyer
Minor League Player of the Year: Brian Dozier
Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Liam Hendriks
Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award: John Gordon
Carl Pohlad Community Service Award: Carl Pavano
Kirby Puckett Award: Terry Steinbach
ANAHEIM, CALIF. -- You've seen the replays over and over: Jered Weaver fires the ball toward Alex Avila's head. He keeps walking off the field because he knows he's getting ejected, and he is screaming at home-plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt, so angrily he needs to be restrained.
Pitchers should never throw at a batter's head intentionally. It's that simple. But it would have been absolutely understandable if Weaver had thrown at somebody below the neck considering the context of everything that happened Sunday afternoon in Detroit.
Carlos Guillen asked to get a teammate buzzed when he showed him up -- big time -- on his home run.
Weaver (14-5, 1.88 ERA), who was locked in a terrific pitcher's duel with Justin Verlander, was pretty unsentimental. Avila is the same guy who caught him in the All-Star Game.
MLB handed Weaver a six-game suspension Tuesday, and he appealed. "I wouldn't do anything different," he said. Mark Whicker brings some interesting perspective in today's Orange County Register:
Every baseball player has an intimate, long-standing relationship with failure. And since failure is so communal, players do not celebrate actions that become someone else's failure. That is known as "showing someone up" and it is a major felony on a baseball field.
"Guillen did everything but a cartwheel," [Angels Manager Mike] Scioscia said. "The culture of this game has changed a bit, where hitters do stand and watch their home runs. It's more of an accepted practice. I do know that in my first year, which was 1980, that was not happening."
Whicker and Scioscia also make a good point about the overreaction toward Erick Aybar's bunt leading off the eighth inning, when Verlander was still working on a no-hitter:
Never mind that Aybar is an excellent bunter, the Angels were still close, and the act of swinging away wasn't working particularly well.
"I think the day that we stop trying to win a ballgame when we're down 3-0 is the day we take the uniform off and go home and let somebody else do it," Scioscia said, with emphasis.
What a game that was Sunday. It's one people will be talking about for a long time. I'll check back later this afternoon with the starting lineups from Angel Stadium.
Just a few bits and notes:
Lineup change: Thome, penciled in at DH, told Gardenhire he wanted to have another day "to run around" on his sprained toe before going in the lineup. He should be available to pinch-hit, however.
The new lineup is 1) CF Revere, 2) 2B Casilla, 3) C Mauer, 4) RF Cuddyer, 5) 3B Valencia, 6) LF Young, 7) DH Plouffe, 8) 1B Hughes, 9) SS Nishioka.
Gardy said the new lineup, with Hughes now at first, would give him "a chance to work with him a little bit and see where he’s at."
Span update: It was reported yesterday that Span was cleared for assignment -- in fact, he took concussion tests and the doctor's were pleased with his results, but he still has to wait to be approved by MLB (Span didn't know the procedure). Trainer Rick McWane said there is no timetable for how long that will take.
Baker: The righty will throw a bullpen session tomorrow. He is expected to start on Monday.
Morneau: He was cleared to start non-baseball activities. He can do pretty much whatever he wants in the weight room and off the field but needs another week or so before he can throw or hit.
MILWAUKEE -- Twins left fielder Delmon Young was carted off the field after suffering a sprained right ankle in the fifth inning of Saturday's game against the Brewers.
The Twins placed Young on the 15-day day disabled list and recalled outfielder Rene Tosoni from Class AAA Rochester.
Young was on crutches after the 11-1 loss and will have an MRI exam on Monday. He said he sprained the same ankle in 2003, before being drafted, and that one was worse.
Young smashed his right foot into the left-field wall, trying to catch a deep fly ball from Yuniesky Betancourt, who continued rounding the bases for an inside-the-park home run that gave Milwaukee a 7-1 lead.
Young appeared to get his right food stuck beneath the out-of-town scoreboard on the wall. He fell to the ground and grabbed the leg in obvious pain.
Young had X-Rays taken at the ballpark, and they showed no broken bones.
NEW YORK -- Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka was helped off the field at Yankee Stadium Thursday in the seventh inning of the Twins 4-3 loss to the Yankees. The Twins said their prized offseason signing suffered a broken fibula and was placed on the disabled list. There was no timetable set for his return.
Nishioka was hurt on a take-out slide by Nick Swisher.
With one out in the seventh inning, Mark Teixeira grounded to third baseman Danny Valencia, who threw to Nishioka at second for the force out. As Nishioka relayed the ball to first, Swisher slid wide and clipped Nishioka with his shins.
Nishioka lay on the ground for a few moments before leaving the field with assistance from assistant trainer Dave Pruemer and his translator, Ryo Shinkawa.
I will pass along updates as soon as possible.
The Twins were held in check by Yankees starter A.J. Burnett and three relievers. Francisco Liriano started for the Twins and gave up four runs in five innings.
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