La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.
FORT MYERS, FLA. - The Twins on Wednesday lost 8-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a spring training game at Hammond Stadium.
Pedro Alvarez and Travis Ishikawa each hit two-run home runs to lead the Pirates. Alvarez connected off of Kevin Correia in the third while Ishikawa hit one off the batter's eye in center off Worley in the sixth. Righthander Gerrit Cole got the win for the Pirates.
Correia gave up four runs over three innings, but said after that he's been pleased with how spring training has been going. He felt he was just off on a couple pitches and was and kept the ball down in the strike zone.
Aaron Hicks played in his first game since March third and hit the second pitch he saw over the left-center fence for his first home run of spring training. Hicks, who replaced Alex Presley in the fifth, had been out with a spore elbow.
Chris Colabello hit a two-run home run for the Twins and is batting .467 this spring.
Third baseman Miguel Sano on Wednesday left a message for fans as he prepared for surgery this afternoon in New York to replace a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Sano is expected to miss the entire season but the surgery does little to alter his status as one of the top prospects in baseball. Sano will return to Fort Myers on Friday to begin rehabilitation.
You can check out the video here.
Oswaldo Arcia was seen in the clubhouse this morning - and holding a bat.
The outfielder returns to the lineup for the first time since March 4 after recovering from food poisoning. It's a relief to the Twins, as they start to figure out what their lineup is going to look like.
While Arcia is expected bat near the middle of the order, the Twins need someone take control of the leadoff spot. That person should be Aaron Hicks, but he also hasn't played since March 4 because of a sore right elbow. He has been in the batting cages in recent days and says the elbow feels better.
The Twins would like to see Hicks in the lineup as soon as possible, with Opening Day less than three weeks away.
It's a rematch of the B game last week, as Kevin Correia starts opposite of young Gerrit Cole.
In other news, Ervin Santana has signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves worth about $14 million. The Twins spoke with Santana's agent about a three-year deal in the $30-33 million range, but Santana wanted to sign for one year then re-enter the market next offseason.
That keeps the Twins with one open spot in their rotation. Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson are the main candidates for that role. The way manager Ron Gardenhire has talked up Deduno (1.35 ERA in spring), he appears to be the favorite to land that No. 5 spot. Kyle Gibson, however, has pitched well so far, tossing five shutout innings.
The Twins won't divulge their plans yet, but the rotation is set up to go Ricky Nolasco, Correia, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and ??????????.
1. Jaff Decker, CF
2. Michael Martinez, 2B
3. Travis Snider, RF
4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
5. Chris Dickerson, LF
6. Robert Andino, SS
7. Andrew Lambo, 1B
8. Travis Ishikawa, DH
9. Chris Stewart, C
Pitching: Gerritt Cole, RHP
1. Alex Presley, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, 1B
8. Josmil Pinto, C
9. Jason Bartlett, 2B
Pitching: Kevin Correia, RHP
I've spoken to some people over the last two days about Ervin Santana. From what I gathered, they are in a holding pattern as far as being a potential landing spot.
All indications are that Santana, 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA last season, wants a one-year deal and looks headed to Toronto (for $14 million) or Baltimore ($13 million). That's barring a late offer, as Atlanta might look for a starter because of recent injuries.
The Twins have spoken with Santana's agent, but we might be hashing over semantics about how they have expressed their interest.
The Twins, I was told, called recently to see what it would take to land Santana. During that time, they expressed what they would be willing to do business at. The number is unknown - there have been reports of a three-year deal for anywhere between $30-40 million. In their eyes they really haven't made a concrete offer. So, in their eyes, no offer is still on the table.
My thing is, if Santana's agent called back said, ``Let's work on what we've talked about,'' that would be a starting point to negotiations, right?
But it appears Santana wants a one-year deal and is gambling on a good season so he can enter next offseason with more gusto.
The Twins, meanwhile, doubled back on Matt Garza during the offseason and have taken a look at Santana. If the price is right, they would add another arm and deal with mass of bodies piled up at the back end of the rotation later.
By the way, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Sunday made it clear that he wants Samuel Deduno somewhere on the pitching staff. Deduno was 8-8, 3.83 last season, giving up just 0.6 home runs per nine innings. If he's healthy, he looks like the perfect No. 5 starter, doesn't he? Let's see how this plays out. Vance Worley looked good until his last outing. Scott Diamond needs to get going. Kyle Gibson looks pretty good. The last week of camp will be interesting.
I'll give the Twins credit for going after a higher caliber of free agents this offseason. They need to take the next step and win a couple more of these battles.
What if they had landed Garza? And A.J. Pierzynski? And become Johan Santana's official rehabilitation sponsor? That's a better chance of nearing .500 this season, then taking off from there in 2015 when Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer and Miguel Sano could be factors.
The Twins have announced their first cuts of spring, sending 16 players to the minor league camp.
Lefthanders Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra and Brooks Raley and righthander Trevor May have been sent to Class AAA Rochester. First baseman Kennys Vargas has been sent to Class AA New Britain, Infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler have been sent to Class A Fort Myers. Ibarra didn't see any action after reporting to camp while recovering from Hepatits B and later having it reclassified to Hepatitis A.
Righthanders Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Yohan Pino, catchers Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch and Stuart Turner and outfielders Byron Buxton and Chris Rahl and third baseman Miguel Sano have been reassigned to the minor league camp. Sano, of course, is out for the season because of Tommy John surgery. The reassigned players will be placed on a minor league team by the end of camp.
Mild surprise that Buxton and Meyer were cut. Thought they would get a longer look. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said recently that he wanted to focus on players who had a chance to make the Opening Day roster, and the pair of Twin top prospects weren't going north with the club. Both showed flashes of their great talent. Buxton was 3-for-19 but did homer on Saturday and Meyer gave up one run in two innings on Monday, and it's not far-fetched to think they could contribute during the season.
The Twins now have 48 players in camp.
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, 2B
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Darin Ruf, 1B
5. Maikel Franco, 3B
6. John Mayberry, Jr. DH
7. Tony Gywnn, Jr., LF
8. Ronny Dedeno, SS
9. Wil Nieves, C
Jeff Manship (WHAT!?!?!?!?!), RHP
1. Darin Mastroianni, CF
2. Kurt Suzuki, C
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Chris Parmelee, RF
6. Wilkin Ramirez, DH
7. Debinson Romero, 3B
8. Jason Bartlett, 2B
9. Danny Santana, SS
Pitching: Mike Pelfrey, Samuel Deduno, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Kyle Gibson
We expected rain here around 3 pm Eastern time, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
The tarp is down, rain is falling and we are delayed.
No word when we might play. The Cardinals
rode in fron the other side of the state, the are tons of Cards fans here and the Twins were looking at their first sellout of spring. I'm sure they will try to get the game in. But there's a tornado watch until 7 pm.
UPDATE: The game has been cancelled and will not be made up. Headed down to the clubhouse for updates. Fans have until March 20 to exchange tickets.
Now back to regular programming...
Well that didn't take long.
The lineup for today's game against the Cardinals wasn't out long when Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia needed to be scratched.
Hicks felt soreness in his elbow while swinging in the batting cages but said he'll be fine. Byron Buxton is getting the start in center field and batting leadoff.
Arcia, however, is sick as a dog and, hopefully, was sent home while I'm writing this before he infects the clubhouse.
Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to face Adam Wainright today. The Twins are expecting a sellout crowd because of the masses of Cardinals fans who travel down from St. Petersburg (where they used to train) for the game.
But the skies are overcast. And there's rain in the forecast. We'll see how this day turns out.
1. Byron Buxton, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Wilkin Ramirez, RF
5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Chris Parmelee, 1B
8. Josmil Pinto, C'
9. Eduardo Escobar, SS
Pitching: Ricky Nolasco, RHP