DAY@CAMP Daily dispatch from Fort Myers
Granite puts misery of 2018 behind him
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Just as he had planned when he arrived at Twins camp last spring, Zack Granite spent the summer of 2018 playing the outfield alongside Byron Buxton.
But nothing else was as he had envisioned it.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but let’s just say we weren’t as happy as we wanted to be last year,” Granite said ruefully. “I was pretty miserable.”
After making the big leagues for the first time in July 2017, taking part in 40 games and watching Buxton help carry the Twins to a playoff berth, Granite came to 2018 camp determined to establish himself at the game’s top level.
Instead, he hit .140, injured a shoulder diving for a fly ball, got demoted to Class AAA Rochester at camp’s end and suffered through the first terrible season of his six-year pro career. Six weeks later, Buxton joined him in Rochester, and they became partners in gloom. Good friends, too.
“We got pretty close down at Rochester, we did. We talked a lot,” Granite said. “We’re the same type of player — go as hard as you can, run into the wall, dive a lot, and injuries happen. We talked, tried to figure some things out. It stinks during the moment, but maybe it was a good learning experience for both of us.”
Granite has been at this year’s camp for nearly a week already in order to get comfortable and make 2019 a bounceback season. Last year, he tried to play through the pain of a shoulder injury, especially when an April magnetic resonance imaging exam was inconclusive, but finally gave up in July, when it became impossible. A second MRI spotted a torn rotator cuff in his right (non-throwing) shoulder, ending his season.
A placenta tissue injection helped his shoulder heal, and he spent the winter tinkering with his swing.
“I’m trying to follow through a little better, cleaner. Keep my hands back more,” Granite said. “I’m healthy again, feeling good. I can’t wait to get started. You get a little motivated when jobs get taken away from you.”
Baldelli applauds deals
Before Rocco Baldelli oversaw his second spring workout as manager, he went to the minor league side of the complex, in order to watch Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler’s news conference to announce their new contracts.
There were minor league players in the room, too, getting motivation for their own careers. Baldelli said he wouldn’t be surprised if the new contracts had the same effect in the Twins clubhouse.
“It’s a motivating event, in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of people in our clubhouse who care for those guys,” he said. “As a whole, it’s a very positive thing for our team.”
LET’S MEET RYNE HARPER
Position: Righthanded reliever
2018 stats: Saved six games for Class AA Chattanooga, posting a 2.54 ERA in 39 innings before being promoted to Class AAA Rochester, where his ERA rose to 5.19. Struck out 86 batters in 65 innings at the two levels.
Acquired: Signed a minor league contract with the Twins in February 2018, after spending seven seasons in the Atlanta and Seattle systems.
Role: He is probably headed to the bullpen in Rochester again, waiting for an opportunity.
Did you know: Harper has worn a uniform in a major league game but has yet to actually pitch in one. His 11.37 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate at Class AAA earned him a call-up in May 2017 to Seattle. But he lost his roster spot without ever making his debut when the Mariners activated starter James Paxton two days later.