KANSAS CITY, MO. – See the bruise on Trevor Plouffe’s biceps? Badge of honor. The soreness in his ribs? A sign of respect.
The Twins third baseman is getting a little recognition, a sort-of tribute, from opposing pitchers these days. And it hurts a little bit.
“They think of him as a power hitter,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And they’re pitching him the way most teams do with power hitters — knock him off the plate, then try to get him away with breaking balls.”
The knock-him-off part battered Plouffe a little bit in Baltimore last weekend; he was hit by a pitch in each game, after being plunked only four times all last year. “Oh, he gets irritated by it,” Gardenhire said. “He was mad.”
He was — “I mean, this is my livelihood at risk here,” he said — though he understands what’s happening. It’s a product of hitting 25 home runs last year, virtually all of them inside pitches pulled to left.
“They have a book on me, and until I make an adjustment, it’s going to keep happening,” Plouffe said. “I have to keep adjusting. If I starting hitting balls to center, taking those outside pitches the other way, they’ll eventually come back into my power zone.”
But for the moment, any pitcher who throws inside to Plouffe is going to want to keep it way in, out of the strike zone, to set up the outside pitch.
“A lot of teams take that approach with power hitters, and you could tell Baltimore wanted to pitch him that way,” Gardenhire said. “Same way they pitch to [Josh] Willingham — don’t let him extend his arms.”
There was one more factor that led to Plouffe getting plunked, too. “Those 3 o’clock games have got to go,” Plouffe said. “I might have been able to get out of the way, but I’m trying to track the ball, and it was hard to see. I’m staying in there longer, and it’s hard to react.”
Diamond to go Saturday
Scott Diamond had no problems in his bullpen session on Wednesday, so the Twins had him board a plane for Minneapolis to rejoin the team. He’ll pitch Saturday, not Friday as originally scheduled, and the Twins will wait until that morning to decide how to open a roster spot for him. That means Vance Worley, who last pitched on Saturday in Baltimore, will start the series opener against the Mets.
“If you back everyone up seven days, it gets a little silly,” Gardenhire said of the decision to hold Diamond until Saturday. “We thought this makes it easier for everybody, if they’re on six-day [rotation] instead of seven.”
Thursday will be a busy day at Target Field, even though the Twins don’t play until Friday. The team has hired a snow-removal firm to supplement Target Field’s maintenance company and some team employees in getting the stadium cleared of snow by the time gates open Friday evening.
“Current plans call for the groups to work throughout the day Thursday, as well as overnight and into Friday morning,” team President Dave St. Peter said in an e-mail. As much as 10 inches of snow was in the forecast, but the team hopes to have the playing field, seating bowl, Target Plaza and other areas clear before fans arrive.
“As of today, it remains our hope to play baseball at Target Field on Friday night,” St. Peter said.