Bert, Brian and the Bucs

I think I saw something in Bradenton Monday that I haven’t seen at any of the other Spring Training games I’ve watched over the past week. There were, in fact, a few clouds in the sky. I had almost forgotten what they looked like, though I suspect I’m going to be reminded pretty dramatically in a few hours, when I get back to Iowa.

McKechnie Field, Spring Training home of the Pirates... and a few clouds

I also hadn’t seen Bert Blyleven yet down here until today, though I did see Dick Bremer behind the batting cage last week exchanging a man-hug with Hall of Famer (and Bremer’s former broadcast partner) Harmon Killebrew. Not only did Dick and Bert broadcast today’s game with the Pirates to the folks back home, but Bert also threw out the first pitch. I thought that was kind of cool, given that he did pitch for the Pirates and they took this opportunity to recognize Blyleven’s recent election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bert Blyleven donned a Pirates jersey to throw out the first pitch, in honor of his election to the HOF

This was my second opportunity to see Brian Duensing start a game on the mound and he looked sharper today. I know there’s a lot of healthy debate around Twinsville about whether Duensing should start the season in the rotation or the bullpen, but I’ve felt strongly all along that he should be in the rotation and I’ve seen nothing this week to change my mind. It allows Ron Gardenhire to go Righty-Lefty-Righty-Lefty-Righty with the rotation and assures that teams see a variety of looks during a three-game series.

Brian Duensing looked good against the Pirates

Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Delmon Young were the only starting position players to make the 90 minute bus ride up to Bradenton for the game, but they gave the sizable contingent of Twins fans in the crowd plenty to cheer about. Span had a double in four ABs, while Mauer and Young each had two hits to lead the Twins 4-1 win over the Pirates.

The Bucs’ only run was unearned, which means that, once again, the whole parade of Twins pitchers shut down an opponent. Today, in addition to Duensing, that included Glen Perkins, Matt Capps, Carlos Gutierrez and Chuck James. The relief appearances were clean, though not dominating. Perkins had a couple of balls hit hard off of him, including a line drive to first base that became a double play ball. Gutierrez was getting ground balls, while James got all three outs on fly balls.

Carlos Gutierrez has been looking good all spring

While the Twins travel to face the Marlins tomorrow, I’ll be heading home to Cedar Rapids. I don’t leave until the afternoon, though, so I may hang out for a while in the morning at the Twins practice facility and maybe even watch some minor league games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the Twins playing in those games, while few of the regulars make the long drive across the state to Jupiter FL where the Marlins train.

I’ve had a lot of opportunities to watch a lot of baseball this week and I’ve drawn a few conclusions concerning what I think Gardy and the Twins will be doing about those few remaining roster spots that are still up in the air… and about what I think they SHOULD do (I wish they were the same thing, but they’re not). In any event, I’ll think a bit more about that stuff and throw a post up in the next couple of days with my thoughts.

It’s been a fun trip… as always. The weather has been terrific and while I’d love to hang around here and watch more baseball, it will also feel good to get home again (at least right up until the time I have to show up for work Wednesday morning).

With that, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from my day in Bradenton.

– JC

How close was my seat to the field? I had to move my knees to make room for this young man to get Matt Tolbert's autograph
I had a pretty good view of Denard Span taking the field, as well.
The Pirates mascots force two children to do the chicken dance... talk about child abuse!
Joe Mauer chats up Pirate 1B Lyle Overbay in order to avoid having to talk to 1B coach Jerry White
Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven get ready to go on the air before the game

KL’s WTF: Turf Toe

Last year I had the kernel of an idea for something I could write for the blog about once a week or so, but it was only with some recent inspiration that the idea was fully formed. This is a good thing, because I have a hard time coming up with stuff off the cuff, and if we’re talking about baseball news, I’m usually too behind to post anything timely.

So, the inspiration. Earlier this month I was reading a news story about Delmon Young not being able to play for a little while due to turf toe. Somehow, the mental image that I always get when hearing about this type of injury is of a toe that has sadly turned green and is, well, sort of turfy. I knew this had to be wrong, so I called up my good friend Google and read up on the injury, because sure as heck I wasn’t going to ask on Twitter or someplace, for fear of looking stupid. I know full well that though I’ve been watching and attending baseball games for quite a few years, there’s a lot of knowledge I just haven’t picked up for one reason or another. And if I’m going to look this stuff up anyway, I might as well write about it and share it with you, our good readers. Maybe a few of you will be thankful that I’m filling you in on stuff you are also too embarrassed to ask about, but for the rest of you, perhaps you’ll at least get some amusement from my misadventures in educating myself about stuff I should probably already know.

As it turns out, turf toe has nothing to do with the color of any the digits of the foot. Imagine my relief upon reading this! And then my horror, because the information provided by here refers to the injury as “tear[ing] the capsule that surrounds the joint at the base of the toe.” Essentially it’s caused by hyperextending the big toe, which is something I’ve now added to my really long list of things I never want to do.

I’m hoping to make “KL’s WTF” a regular feature here at the Knuckleballs Blog, and while I just might be lacking in knowledge enough to keep it going by myself, if you have any questions you’re curious about (or too embarrassed to ask publicly; I’ll keep it anonymous if you’d like), just let me know via email or Twitter (see our Contact Us tab above for links) or include it as a comment to this post.

GameChat – ST – Twins @ Pirates, 12:05 pm, FSN & am1500

I finally have caught up with all the posts that happened while I was incommunicado.  For the record, I’m not really a fan of the whole “unplugged” life for more than a week.  It’s ok for a day or two but the backlog after a week was just miserable.  Anyway, I’m back, I miss y’all and I’m sure JC is glad to finally have some help with the game posts again.  I still don’t understand why FSN chose Monday games for the broadcasts while most people are at work but I’m certainly going to enjoy it regardless.  Whoever can and wants will be able to join in for the chat.

One last note on today’s lineup – I thought that we played by NL rules when we were in NL parks – even during spring training. It appears however that we are still using a DH today so either they changed that rule like they did for the All-Star game or I was just wrong completely.  That does happen on the rare occasion.

Minnesota @ Pittsburgh
Span, CF   McCutchen, A, CF
Tolbert, SS   Walker, N, 2B
Mauer, C   Pearce, LF
Young, D, DH   Overbay, 1B
Bailey, J, 1B   Diaz, M, RF
Hughes, L, 2B   Alvarez, 3B
Dinkelman, LF   Rodriguez, Jo, SS
Lambin, 3B   Jaramillo, J, C
Repko, RF   Maholm, P
  Duensing, P    


Don’t forget to watch for JC sitting in the stands during the broadcast!

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 4 12 1
Pittsburgh 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 2