I arrived North a tad too late from Fort Myers last night, so I did not quite had time to compile my last Spring Training report, so here it goes:
- Mainly a drills day over at the Minor League fields yesterday with no games or scrimmages schedules. Interesting to see Ray Olmedo, who was cut earlier in the morning participate in drills with the position players who will likely stay at Fort Myers for extended spring training and get assigned to the Rookie leagues. Most of them are young Latin American players and I suspect that Ray was helping with the translation.
- Back at Hammond Stadium Mike Pelfrey pitched a very good game (the only earned run should had been unearned because Morneau should have been charged with an error when misplayed what would have been the third out of the inning.) When I look at the return of someone from injury I look at 2 things: Velocity of fastball and command of the breaking ball. And Pelfrey had them both. His fastball hit 94 mph (at Hammond so subtract a couple) and he had excellent command of his high 70s curve. He changed speeds effectively, mixed and matched pitches well and provided a good glimpse of why he was considered a top of the rotation prospect for a long time. Good to see him back and I am certain that he will help the Twins this season.
- The only roster battle left is one for two pen spots among three relievers (who may all make it if Liam Hendriks' injured hand proves to be worse than it seems) who severely underperformed and underwhelmed this spring training and all have 40 man roster spots: Alex Burnett, Casey Fien and Trevor Robertson. Robertson (who admittedly has been unlucky this Spring because the ball seemed to bounce the wrong way every time he pitched) had a very sub-par outing yesterday. The main problems were that his fastball velocity was 85-88, with the fast Hammond Stadium radar, that made it flat and hittable and he could not command his breaking ball. As I mentioned above regarding Pelfrey, those 2 things are red flags for me as far as potential injury is concerned. On the other hand, Robertson yesterday said the he felt alright. We shall see. Regardless, with Anthony Swarzak and Tim Wood returning from injuries in a couple weeks, the two relievers who will make the squad will be under the microscope.
- Ecstatic to see Wilkin Ramirez making the club. He has been the most consistent Twins' player with the bat this Spring and his defense was occasionally impressive (including a diving catch today against Baltimore.) He will provide a RH bat with some pop off the bench and potentially a platoon partner for Chris Parmelee at RF. Ramirez is not on the 40-man roster so a transaction needs to take place to open a spot for him. This could be a trade involving Drew Butera, Jamey Carroll (who is practically unnecessary now with the emergence of Eduardo Escobar) or the removal from the 40-man roster of the reliever who loses the battle for the last pen spot or Caleb Thielbar or BJ Hermsen.
- One very hopeful observation for the coming season (and I actually asked others who agreed with me so it is not just me) : The overall energy of the team this Spring seems to be much better that it was last Spring. The mood seems to be much lighter. Players were pretty loose around the batting cages when waiting for others to bat or when were catching the ball at the OF during batting practice, or at the dugout. Even Gardenhire who last Spring was fairly grouchy was cracking jokes and was engaged in conversations with fans. This makes me very hopeful for this set of Twins as far as this season goes. Just a feeling I cannot describe, but it is pretty much there.
- Four games are left now, including the last 3 with the Red Sox in Fort Myers. Byron Buxton's guest star appearance will be the talk of the day tomorrow, while the next order of business will be the appointing of the opening day starter. As far as I am concerned I think that it will be either Vance Worley or Kevin Correia depending on their next appearance (or Worley's next appearance) so we will know the earliest tomorrow.
- Another Spring comes to the end and another season is coming to be. Let's hope it is better than the last one and the Twins sweep Detroit in the first series to make a strong statement as far as the division is concerned.