CINCINNATI — The roster has changed, the goals have changed, and now the Twins will discuss what else should change, too.
Over the next several days, Rocco Baldelli intends to convene meetings, one-on-one and in groups, with his staff, with the front office and ultimately with the players, intended to evaluate and specify the areas that each person needs to improve in.
"We're going to begin a little review process. The mental side of the game, the fundamental side of the game," all will be discussed, Baldelli said. "We have to make fewer mistakes of all kinds. And with a little less experienced group, those are conversations that will be happening regularly. That's going to be part of our reality right now and how we're going to have to operate and function going forward."
A team that was expected to contend for a third straight postseason berth instead finds itself in last place, and Baldelli said he doesn't intend to waste the remaining two months.
"We're going to go through and discuss all our players and have some specific things they're going to spend time on from now until the end of the season," the manager said. He wants to "specifically address all those things, [then] go to work and get the most out of the last two months."
Brent Rooker, for one, is looking forward to it.
"It's great. The next two months are a real good opportunity for a lot of our young guys to learn who we are as players, to find out what we need to do to have success at this level," he said. "And then just kind of hammer away at those details. Little things that can make a difference, and two months of that can really help us improve."
Barnes gets Wednesday start
The emphasis on young players means that pitching opportunities will be limited to players who will be here next season, and especially young players. Charlie Barnes, for instance, has been chosen to start Wednesday's finale of this two-game series, a chance to follow up on his one-run, 4 2/3-inning performance in his major league debut at Detroit last month.
And with that policy in effect, Baldelli said, the Twins released veteran righthander Matt Shoemaker from their Class AAA team in St. Paul. Shoemaker, 34, who was dropped from the big-league team after posting an 8.06 ERA and allowing 56 runs in 60 1/3 innings, had pitched well since accepting a demotion to St. Paul, with a 2.12 ERA in three starts.
But "with the people we want to take a look at over the next couple of months, it was going to be hard for Shoe to make his way back to the major league level," Baldelli said. "Out of respect for him, we just wanted to give him an opportunity to go pitch somewhere where he may be able to get back to the big leagues a little bit easier."
After pitching seven shutout innings last week against Indianapolis, Shoemaker, who signed a one-year, $2 million contract last winter, said his turnaround was due to "pitching the opposite of how the Twins wanted me to pitch," an implied criticism of how Baldelli and his staff handled him. But the manager said those comments had no effect on the team's decision to release him.
"Those are comments that probably didn't need to be made, but those were not the driving force in the decision and what happened with Shoe," Baldelli said. "This was something that we had discussed and was already in play before those comments were made."
It's the same hamstring that tightened up on Opening Day, Josh Donaldson said, but it's not exactly the same injury. But that balky right hamstring, which "grabbed" as he ran sprints before Friday's game in St. Louis, is having the same effect: He's out of the lineup.
Donaldson tested his running ability before Tuesday's game and "I got up to 60 or 70 percent, which is good," he said. "I don't feel soreness, it's just [a matter of] getting the range of motion back towards fully lengthened again."
With an unusually early game Wednesday, Donaldson said, "our goal right now is [to return] Thursday in Houston," having missed the first five games of this road trip. "I told [the Twins] I was willing to go on the injured list, but there's a good chance I can be ready in less than 10 days."