Today the Twins met with the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium. This was the first time that Scott Baker would pitch after his recent bout with right elbow tendonitis, so it was supposed to be an interesting day.
Before I got there, I checked out the practice fields where the Twins' middle infielder bench-type players (Luke Hughes, Mike Hollimon, Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier) were taking BP. Andy was tossing and he looks like he still got it:
Further into the Minor League Complex, Tom Kelly, Jake Mauer and Paul Molitor were conducting infield drills. Levi Michael, Adam Bryant, Andy Leer, Eddie Rosario and Jairo Perez were among the participants. Will they all be Beloit-bound? Who knows, but it is a good possibility...
Brunansky was throwing BP for the Rochester team and the New Britain and Fort Myers teams were not around, which makes me think that they were traveling today. Bruno can be an interesting trivia questions answer: name a former Twins' player who rights left-handed but bats and throws right-handed. Not many of them:
About time for the big game.
And if anyone asks you: "How many Miracle Workers does it take to water down the infield?", you now know the answer:
Baker was the big story of the game. How he is going to come back from the rest and the limited activity because of the tendonitis. The short answer is that it did not look too good. His fast ball was between 85-87 with an occasional 88 and one 89. Was pretty encouraging to see those numbers rise before the 2 HRs and seven earned runs. Here is a shot of Baker pitching earlier this afternoon:
He just looks like he is in pain. Which is very unfortunate for the Twins. Meanwhile, the Twins have a plan B in place and this is Liam Hendriks who pitched 4 innings today and is lined up to take Baker's spot in the rotation for the Home opener if necessary:
Liam Hendriks hit a few pitches up at 92 and 93 miles per hour, usually his fastball standing in the mid 80s. Good mix of change up and breaking stuff (some of them at low 70s) and was a tad squeezed by the home plate umpire. Jeff Manship came in for Scott Baker's relief and did ok. His velocity was up at 89:
Casey Fien finished the game with an unspectacular performance:
As far as the sticks went, Ryan Doumit hit an impressive Home Run over the one mile post at Left Field:
Mauer had a big hit:
So did Morneau:
(aren't they like Twins with their swings?)
Casilla was pretty impressive defensively:
And this is something that you do not see every day, so enjoy it while it lasts: Drew Butera on second on a dropped fly ball:
All on in all it was a great day. Live baseball on an open air field. In March. Cannot ask for much more.