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Twins Insider

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Molitor admits Polanco development should have been handled differently

Here are two quick rants following the Twins workout at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

Twins manager Paul Molitor admitted the club blundered last season when it didn't play Jorge Polanco at short while he was at Rochester. The Twins needed a shortstop for the second half of the season, and called Polanco up in late July.

Polanco's arm isn't the best at short, and he made several of his 15 errors there. But the Twins appear committed to helping him improve his defense there. Offensively, he has a lot of potential. Polanco, 23, is a switch hitter who rarely has looked overmatched at the plate.

The Twins historically have moved their infielders around to make sure they don't get caught like they did last year. I wonder if that got lost in the aftermath of Terry Ryan getting fired.

"I wish I had a better explanation for you," Molitor said. "But I think myself, a lot of other people, realized we didn't handle it the right way."


Molitor really shouldn't have to take the blame for how Polanco was used in the minors. That's someone else's area.

My second rant is about safety.

Pitchers during live batting practice have the option of using a protective screen - called an L-screen - to shield them from batted balls hit back up the middle. In two days, I have seen just one pitcher, Michael Tonkin, use a screen. I talked some pitchers about it. Some said it was a comfort issue. Some felt it gave a false sense of security. All it is going to take is one line drive back up the middle to change these opinions.

Part of this might be pitching coach Neil Allen's challenge to throw more quality strikes in camp. Perhaps pitchers are locked in more than normal at this time of year. I just don't think it is worth the risk.

I checked with one of the beat writers for the Red Sox. Their pitchers also have the option of using the screen - and ALL have used the screen.

One final note: My heart goes out to the family of longtime sports reporter Rod Simons, who has died of an apparent heart attack. Simons was here in Fort Myers yesterday, conducting interviews in his familiar upbeat way. He didn't show up at the park today, and we soon found out why.

This has ended up being a very sad day. I was standing right next to him yesterday, and now he's gone. Rod was a kind, hard working man who won awards for his work and invested time in causes like his Golf for the Gift charity.

Palms to the sky, Rod.

Will Twins pitchers be up to coach's strike-throwing challenge?

Happy Presidents Day from Fort Myers, where the Twins are about to begin their second morning of full squad workouts.

Ryan Vogelsong, Ryan Pressly, J.T. Chargois, Ervin Santana, Adalberto Mejia, Randy Rosario and Fernando Romero are among the pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice today. Pitching coach Neil Allen opened camp by issuing a strike-throwing challenge to his pitchers that he wants to see carried into batting practice sessions. In short, pitchers have to prove they can throw quality strikes with the fastball before they are allowed to work on their breaking stuff.

So this will be a good opportunity to see which pitchers are excelling in this early in camp.

As we have noted in the print edition, the Twins have added pitch framing drills for catchers. And coach Jeff Pickler has added different outfield drills to help with agility. If you ask me, the Twins should just let Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer handle outfield drills and have Pickler do something else. But I'm influenced by the 2000's.

As talented as Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are, there are still some things each of them can work on to become even better outfielders. Hunter and Cuddyer are trying to get that out of them while they are special coaches in camp.

Here's a link to my story about the mood at camp on Sunday. Phil Miller provides some notes about Mauerness at camp.