FORT MYERS, FLA. – You will see occasional well-struck balls during the first couple of days of live batting practice. There were three during a session at the Hammond Stadium field on Tuesday — all by multi-positional maven Willians Astudillo.
Astudillo hit a semi-hard liner up the middle against Sean Poppen, then, two pitches later, sent a rocket back up the middle that Poppen had duck to make sure he would not get hit.
Astudillo was not done. With Jose Berrios on the mound, Astudillo sent a line drive to the edge of the warning track in left.
Hitters usually are behind the pitchers during camp while they work on their timing following a long winter, but Astudillo reported to camp after playing 61 games for Magallanes in the Venezuelan League, during which he hit .325 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI. His winter ball season also included a role in a benches-clearing incident with Aguilas. He was one of six players ejected in a scuffle.
His bat sure looked sharp Tuesday. And he will need it as he’ll likely wind up in a battle for the final bench spot on the 26-man roster, a battle that could go down to Astudillo, Jake Cave or Ehire Andriaza.
“I compete every day,” said Astudillo, who hit .268 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 58 games with the Twins last season. “And I work hard. But it’s not my decision.”
T-shirts are great because you can put anything on them. Sports teams frequently have favorite slogans or motivational statements printed on them.
This year is no different for the Twins.
The entire Twins roster/staff was issued T-shirts with team logo on front, and cryptic equation “E + R = O” on back. Apparently, it means “event plus response equals outcome,” the message being, you can’t always control what happens, but you control your response, turn bad into good.
Keep in mind that this will be the first of many motivational T-shirts that will be distributed in the clubhouse during the season.
Through two days for full-squad workouts, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been pleased with how camp has been organized. With former bench coach Derek Shelton – who set up the workout schedule — now managing the Pirates, the Twins tabbed former bullpen catcher Nate Dammann, who was the replay monitor a year ago, to set up the workout schedule this year.
So far, so good.
“Nate had a great feel for what was going on last year,” Baldelli said. “He would actually even know — he might not have planned the spring training out last year, (but) he knew the schedule as well as anyone.
“He would do a lot on the fields, field prep and making sure that everyone was in the right spot. He has an understanding of how spring training’s run that very few people have.”
Dammann, a Hamline grad, was named a quality control coach for this season. He will be on the field in uniform before games before monitoring replays once the games begin.
The Twins have hired Premier Sports Psychology to provide services to their players and staff. Premier Sports Psychology has worked with teams and players in the NFL, NBA — including the Timberwolves — NHL, the University of Minnesota, Big Ten Conference, USA Curling and other leagues.
Matt Wisler, pitcher
Acquired: Claimed off waivers from Seattle on Oct. 29.
Role: Righthanded reliever on the major league club
Did you know? Wisler has a fair chance to make the Opening Day roster. The Twins claimed Wisler, who is out of options, and signed him to a $725,000 deal to avoid arbitration. In most cases, that would indicate that the club wants to keep him. But they also can’t just hand him a roster spot if he has a poor spring.
Wisler has a slider that generates swings and misses, but he can mix in other pitches.
La VELLE E. NEAL III