Interview with Twins GM Terry Ryan – Part 2

Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan had surgery for squamous cell carcinoma in February and has undergone radiation treatment as well. In the meantime, Assistant General Manager Rob Antony has filled in as the interim GM for the Twins, though Ryan has been in regular contact with Antony and others in the Twins front office.

During the past Cedar Rapids Kernels homestand, Ryan was in town observing the Twins’ young Class A prospects and sat down Sunday for an interview that covered a range of topics.

In Part 1, we covered his return to work, his view of the current state of the Twins at the big league level and his thoughts concerning the upcoming MLB First Year Player Draft.

Today, Ryan shares some thoughts and observations concerning the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins’ Class A affiliate in the Midwest League.

Like their parent club, the Kernels have hovered near the .500 mark most of the season. That’s been no small achievement given the number of injuries that manager Jake Mauer’s club has sustained. They currently have seven players on the Disabled List and have others who have been on the DL and come back already.

Terry Ryan

Terry Ryan

Ryan acknowledged that it’s a very different club than local fans saw a year ago when top prospects like Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Adam Brett Walker and Travis Harrison were wearing Kernels colors.

“We had a very talented club here last year, you’d like to think we could supply this affiliate with that kind of talent every year, but it’s not going to happen. We’ve got a different looking club this year.

“We’ve got some pitching here. Don’t have the thump. Don’t have the type of line up we had last year, which was a very dangerous line up. We don’t have that type of size. We had monstrous guys here so yeah it’s different.

“But every year is going to be different no matter what you try to do or accomplish at a minor league affiliate. You’re looking for players, you’re trying to develop players. This is a little different lot.

“So you adjust. Jake and Tommy (Watkins, the hitting coach) and Ivan (Arteaga, the pitching coach) are going about their business. It’s a little bigger challenge this year because you don’t have a Buxton here, you don’t have a Walker. You don’t have a Polanco.

“But that comes with the territory. When you’re running a Class A club, you’re going to have different personnel every year. You’ll have a few repeats, but for the most part it’s a different club and a different atmosphere and different results.”

Asked for his observations on specific players, Ryan was reluctant to go in to much detail, given that he had seen just four Kernels games at the time of the interview.

“It’s a little dangerous when you start naming names.

“I haven’t seen Stewart (Kohl Stewart, the Twins first round draft pick a year ago), of course. He’s pitching today. But he’s the most recognizable name on this roster for a lot of reasons. He’s talented and he’s a big draft. I’ll be interested to see how he does today.

“He had a tough outing his last go, I understand, I didn’t see it. He went two or three innings and they had to go get him. I doubt very much that he’s experienced that in his life but this is the ideal spot (to experience that). Alright, let’s see how he handles this. We’ll see if he bounces back today and gets back to his normal self. If he doesn’t then I would be a little concerned. But if he does, which I would expect, it’s just a matter of growth.

For the record, Stewart did indeed bounce back under the watchful eyes of the GM. Stewart threw six innings Sunday, giving up just one earned run, in the Kernels’ win over Burlington.

“He’s an athlete, he’s confident,” continued Ryan. “He’s got the skills that you’re looking for. There’s a reason the guy was picked fourth in the (draft). He was picked up there because he’s got strength, he’s got a body, he’s got mechanics, he’s got stuff, he’s got competitiveness.

“He’s got the kind of mechanics and arm action that would be conducive to pounding strikes, which is good.”

Kernels fans are getting the opportunity to see a native Cedar Rapidian in action with the Kernels this season.

Chad Christensen, the Twins’ 25th round pick a year ago out of the University of Nebraska, played high school ball at Cedar Rapids Washington. He came north with the club out of spring training and is hitting .290 while playing all over the field for the injury-plagued Kernels.

“One of the things that I think we were impressed with when he came out of Nebraska was his ability to have some versatility for a club,” Ryan said of Christensen. “He’s got strength and he’s got speed. He’s got strength in his bat. He can play a number of spots, including centerfield, which is pretty good.

Twins GM Terry Ryan chats with members of the Cedar Rapids grounds crew

Twins GM Terry Ryan chats with members of the Cedar Rapids grounds crew

“When he showed up last year after signing, he made a good impression and then in spring training. He’s got the type of make-up that you want to have him on your club. I’m sure Jake was pleased when he did come here and I think he’s even more pleased with what he sees in the results.

“He’s just been a good player on this team, home town or not. That’s a little bit more pressure for a kid to come in here and play in front of your home town. He’s handled it quite well. In fact, he might be the most consistent guy we’ve had on this club. Not that I’ve been around much, but I read those things, the reports and that stuff.”

Ryan is aware that the Kernels have had more than their fair share of injuries, but doesn’t feel they should be keeping the team from performing well on the field.

“It’s no excuse. We’ve got other players.

“(Jason) Kanzler came in because of an injury to Zack Granite. So here comes Kanzler and he’s been quite good here. There are other people that we can go get and hopefully fill in for an injury.

“Now, we’re starting to get healthy. A bunch of these guys are going to get healthy here soon.

“Getting back on the diamond is important for a 21 year old, because they can’t afford to spend a lot of time on the Disabled List. You just can’t do anything with them. There’s no development time, they’re getting bypassed, stuff like that. They’ll get healthy and we’ll get them back here.

“We’ve got some kids with ability but so far it’s been a slow go for them. I’m not so sure the weather was too conducive to what they were trying to do. The thing is, you’re going to have to learn to do that. We play in Cedar Rapids, we play in New Britain (CT), we play in Rochester (NY) and we play in Minnesota. Minnesota is not too much different than Cedar Rapids.”

About a year ago, Twins top prospect Byron Buxton and others were promoted from the Kernels up to Class high-A Fort Myers shortly after the mid-June Midwest League All-Star break. Ryan’s visit shouldn’t be interpreted as a precursor to similar promotions, however.

“When I come in here, I don’t worry about that stuff. That’s Brad Steil (Twins minor league director) and that would be Jake and the minor league coordinators.

“If someone is dominating, as you know, we’ll move them. I don’t know if we’ve got any of that going on here. I don’t think we’re in that position quite yet.

“Although if somebody starts dominating this league in the next month or so and they put up numbers and you say, ‘what more do they have to do?’ That’s about the time you start saying ‘let’s move him up.’”

Ryan was asked for an update on the condition Buxton, who has missed almost the whole season so far with a wrist injury.

“We had him see a specialist with that wrist about two weeks ago and there was no alarm. He re-aggravated that thing and we’re taking our time. It’s getting better. I read that yesterday in a medical report. He’s still not ready to take the field.

“He’s not going to lose a whole year. Unfortunately, April and May are shot, but he certainly played pretty good in March (during spring training). With him going through Major League camp, it was a good experience. He handled himself pretty well. He handled himself with some class. He understood, he listened, was very coachable.

“We’ll get him back up there. We’ll salvage the year, I don’t think there’s any question that we’ll be able to do some things to get him at-bats.”

Interview with Twins GM Terry Ryan – Part 1

During a routine physical exam early this year, Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan asked his doctor to take a look at a lump on his neck. Testing found Ryan to have squamous cell carcinoma.

Ryan had surgery in February and has undergone radiation treatment as well. In the meantime, Assistant General Manager Rob Antony has filled in as the interim GM for the Twins, though Ryan has been in regular contact with Antony and others in the Twins front office.

GM Terry Ryan observes Cedar Rapids Kernels batting practice on Sunday

GM Terry Ryan observes Cedar Rapids Kernels batting practice on Sunday

During the past Cedar Rapids Kernels homestand, Ryan was in town observing the Twins’ young Class A prospects and sat down Sunday morning for an interview that covered a range of topics.

In Part 1, we’ll cover his return to work, his view of the current state of the Twins at the big league level and his thoughts concerning the upcoming MLB First Year Player Draft that kicks off Thursday, June 5.

Usually a regular presence at spring training and all around the Twins minor league affiliates during most seasons, Ryan has understandably not been making those trips to this point this year. So the first question anyone would likely ask is, how is he feeling?

“I’m feeling OK. This is my first trip. I wanted to come here (to Cedar Rapids) so just in case I couldn’t handle it, I could just get in my vehicle and come back, but I can handle it.

“I’ve got a lot of physical therapy and a lot of rehab to go still. I’m doing that. But I’m OK, I’m fine, I’m fortunate actually.”

Ryan indicated, however, that there still is no specific timetable for his return to full time General Manager duties.

“I’m going back for the draft after this game today (Sunday). That’s a huge piece to our year. It’s one of the most important days to our entire year – maybe the most important. So I’ll be going back for the draft. That’ll be a huge step for me, because I’ve got to get acclimated to the players.

“On an everyday basis, I’ve certainly been participating. I haven’t taken any road trips but that’s about all. And when we’re home, I’m usually at a game up there. So it’s not like I haven’t been involved.

“(Rob Antony) has done a nice job. He certainly knows what he’s doing, he’s been around it. He’s been around Gardy a lot and he’s been around the team a lot. We’re in good hands.

“Ultimately when the time is right, I’ll take a road trip and we’ll kind of make a seamless transition again. I’m not sure when that’s going to be, but it shouldn’t be down in the future too far.”

Asked if that meant we should expect to see him back in the GM chair before the end of the current season, Ryan responded, “Yeah, no question.”

As Ryan indicated, he was headed back up to Minneapolis after Sunday’s Kernels game to participate in the organizational preparations for the First Year Player Draft. The GM wouldn’t tip his hand concerning who the team is targeting with the fifth overall pick in the first round, but Ryan shared what he’d like to see accomplished in the draft.

“Where we’re picking, everybody’s always trying to get the best guy. Nobody cares if they take a pitcher or position player.

“It’s like when took (Byron) Buxton. Everybody thought we were going to take a pitcher. We didn’t. And I caught hell up there. It was ‘pitching, pitching’. Well, the guy is named minor league player of the year. We’ll take the best guy there.

“This has got a little more pitching flavor to this draft. There’s not a clear cut number 1. There are a handful of guys that could go 1. But at 5, we’re sitting in a good spot. We’re going to get a good player or pitcher, it doesn’t matter which way we go. We’re going to take probably the best guy.”

Ryan was asked whether this year’s high number of “Tommy John” injuries among pitchers across baseball makes him feel any greater inclination to draft heavy on pitching.

“I’m guessing we will. We did last year. We did the year before. We’ll draft a lot of pitching just because of the attrition. We need to make sure we have numbers and competition.

“Actually the depth and some of the talent in our organization is starting to lean toward pitching. We’ve got some pitching in AAA. We’ve got some arms that can run it up there with some velocity now, which is good to see.

“But we won’t have enough, so we’ll take a bunch more.

“I’d like to see us take more left handed pitching. That would be my preference. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the first guy, but that wouldn’t bother me either.

“For me, left handed pitching is a commodity that’s very difficult to come by. You’ve got to take it and hopefully develop a few of them and get lucky with a few of them. If we took a lot of left handed pitching, I would be very pleased.”

While his trip to Cedar Rapids was his first road trip of the season, Ryan has seen a lot of the parent club’s home games in Minneapolis. The Twins have hovered near the .500 mark through most of the season and just completed a rare series win over the Yankees in New York over the weekend. Ryan was asked for his impressions of the Twins’ performance so far.

“We’re better. It didn’t help us when (Josh) Willingham and (Oswaldo) Arcia both went down at the same time. Although at that time, we were scoring runs. (Chris) Colabello carried us for a month, maybe more. We’ve had trouble offensively again this past month.

“Our pitching is improved, our hitting went the other way. It was directly opposite in April. We’re a better club. We’ve got more depth.

“We’ve had a couple of pleasant surprises, particularly (Eduardo) Escobar. He’s kind of emerged and looks like he might want to take that shortstop job. I think (Trevor) Plouffe has improved. (Kurt) Suzuki has been a good addition. (Phil) Hughes has been a good addition. Unfortunately, we lost (Mike) Pelfrey, again. But we’re better.

“We’re competitive. We have not embarrassed ourselves, maybe a game here or there, but not too much. Unlike last year when we were out of games in the fifth (inning) a lot.

“We do have some chemistry and character on this club that seems to mesh pretty well . When you go to the park, you feel pretty good. At least we’re going to be a competitive team in this game. That’s a big difference.

“The one constant, our bullpen has been pretty good over the last number of years. (Glen) Perkins in the back side of that thing has solidified that.

“We’ve got a handful of guys up there that people didn’t see last year, which is kind of neat. Between (Josmil) Pinto and Escobar and (Danny) Santana and (Caleb) Theilbar and Arcia, all those guys are 20-25 or so.

“We’re getting there. We’ve got a ways to go. What we’ve done the last three years has not been good at all, but we are getting there. It’s going to take a little bit more.”

Tomorrow, in Part 2, Ryan shares some of his observations concerning the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the challenges they’ve faced this season.

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #3, 12:05

It’s the return of Phil Hughes to Yankee Stadium. Let’s hope we see this year’s version and not the version that wore Yankee pinstripes last season.

I’d like his chances of beating his old team better if Gardy would get over his phobia about having his backup catcher DH and get Josmil Pinto in to the line up, but that’s not going to happen any time soon apparently. – JC

Minnesota @ New York
Dozier, 2B Gardner, B, LF
Mauer, 1B Jeter, SS
Plouffe, 3B Ellsbury, CF
Arcia, O, RF McCann, C
Willingham, DH Solarte, 3B
Kubel, LF Suzuki, I, RF
Suzuki, K, C Roberts, B, 2B
Escobar, E, SS Johnson, K, 1B
Hicks, CF Almonte, Z, DH
 Hughes, P, P   Whitley, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 7 10 0
NY Yankees 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 0

ok, this game didn’t end the way the majority of it went. I think the Yankees miss Big Mo… Hughes did a PHENOMENAL job against his old team. VERY impressive outing for him and all those Yankee fans in NY sat there wishing that was what he looked like last year.

We went in to that 9th inning behind in a very typical-looking score for the Twins in NY.. and then something changed. Robertson just didn’t match up well today. Getting 6 runs in the 9th in NY is just not something I expected to see! But I’ll take it!

In my opinion, it all started with the WillingHammer taking Robertson out of the park. He just never recovered his composure and all the rest got to him in succession. For getting it all started and tying the game (forever changing the outcome possibilities), Josh has earned today’s BOD honors! Thanks, man! Good to have you back!

WillinghamST2012a

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #2, 12:05

What the heck are they doing starting this game so damn early!?

Somehow, the Twins have a 1-0 lead before I even figured out they were playing!

Minnesota @ New York
Dozier, 2B Gardner, B, LF
Escobar, E, SS Jeter, SS
Mauer, DH Ellsbury, CF
Willingham, LF Teixeira, 1B
Arcia, O, RF McCann, DH
Plouffe, 3B Soriano, A, RF
Parmelee, 1B Solarte, 2B
Pinto, C Johnson, K, 3B
Hicks, CF Ryan, SS
  Correia, P   Tanaka, M, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1
NY Yankees 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 x 3 12 3

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees, 6:05

Have you seen the pictures of Phil Hughes surrounded by the media hoard before tonight’s game? Crazy. I don’t know what he said to them, but I bet he was thinking, “man, I’m glad I don’t have to put up with this crap every day anymore.”

Speaking of returning Yankees, Eduardo Nunez is in the Twins line up tonight… as the DH. And Josmil Pinto is riding pine, again. I just don’t get it at all.

Minnesota @ New York
Santana, D, CF Gardner, B, LF
Dozier, 2B Jeter, SS
Mauer, 1B Ellsbury, CF
Willingham, LF Teixeira, 1B
Arcia, O, RF McCann, DH
Plouffe, 3B Roberts, B, 2B
Suzuki, K, C Suzuki, I, RF
Nunez, DH Solarte, 3B
Escobar, E, SS Murphy, C
  Nolasco, P   Nuno, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 6 10 0
NY Yankees 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 0

I’m just going to let that boxscore speak for itself.. In New York… The Yankees…

Just looking at the numbers, I say Plouffe did a pretty good job of bringing it… I could be wrong – make your case – but I’m putting him out there for BOD.

Plouffe20144

Kohl Stewart Reflects on His First Year as a Professional

The 2014 MLB First Year Amateur Player Draft is right around the corner and hundreds of high school and college ballplayers are counting the hours before the Houston Astros go on the clock with the first pick of the draft on Thursday, June 5.

One year ago, Kohl Stewart was an 18 year-old pitcher anxiously awaiting the draft. Today, Stewart, who was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the fourth overall pick of the first round, is a couple of months in to his first full year of professional baseball.

Kohl Stewart

Kohl Stewart

Stewart sat recently and reflected on the draft a year ago and his progress as a starting pitcher this season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins’ Class A affiliate in the Midwest League.

“I think that this time last year, we had just lost in the state finals in baseball,” recalled Stewart. “Then I was graduating from school and the draft was coming up. I was spending hours with my agent talking about what I wanted to do. There were a million different scenarios playing over in my head. I remember thinking, ‘if this happens, if this guy goes here and if this guy goes here.’”

Those “scenarios” Stewart speaks of went beyond those of most of his peers. While all of the high school ballplayers likely to be selected near the top of the draft have the option of postponing their professional careers in favor of playing college baseball, Stewart had an additional option. He had a scholarship offer from Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin to play quarterback for the Aggies.

Stewart and his agent certainly knew he’d be selected early on draft night. But that doesn’t mean he had made up his mind weeks before the draft that he’d be signing with whatever team chose him.

As draft day neared, however, things seemed to come more in to focus.

“I expected to go to A&M,” acknowledged Stewart. “A couple of days before the draft, I think, my agent I guess had kind of talked to some people and he kind of had an idea of what was going to happen and I even talked to Coach Sumlin a couple of days before it happened and he gave me his blessing. He wanted me to do what was best for me and that was another dynamic that I had to deal with, too. I kind of felt like I was letting him down. Having guys like that… he’s a really good coach for a reason. He had gone through that before. He definitely made the situation easier on me.”

Even having pretty much come to grips with the likelihood that he’d be signing a professional baseball contract rather than pursuing a major college football career didn’t make waiting any less stressful for Stewart.

“You kind of have that situation made up in your mind, but everything’s still got to happen. You’ve still got to sit there and the decision’s still got to be made,” said Stewart.

The anxiety of the wait didn’t mean Stewart and those closest to him didn’t enjoy the moment, however.

“I definitely enjoyed it. It was definitely a fun time for my family,” recalled Stewart. “I have a lot of friends that are really good baseball players that are playing in college right now. I got to experience what a lot of guys that I grew up playing ball with will probably be going through the same thing in a couple of years and to kind of share it with them was really special.

“But it was definitely really stressful. I would go to bed knowing I was going to have to make a really big choice and that was kind of hard. Every day it got closer to the draft, it was very apparent that I was going to have a very good opportunity with the Twins and I didn’t want to pass it up.”

Players do a lot of different things to relax on draft day. Some go hunting or fishing. Some play golf to take their minds off the draft and hope it passes the time more quickly.

Stewart4

Kohl Stewart

Stewart enjoys hunting and fishing in the offseason and also really enjoys golfing. But on draft day, he chose to pass the hours leading up to the draft with friends and family.

“I remember waking up. I slept in late,” Stewart recollected, smiling a bit. “I told myself I don’t want to get up and have to worry about it all day long. I wanted to sleep in as long as I could. I think that lasted until about 6:30 that morning.”

After breakfast, Stewart spent time with one of his Select Team coaches (“He was blowing it up, having a good time with it, kind of looking forward to the night”) and with an older brother. “We went to a place called Mel’s Diner. It’s a small little burger place. I went there, had a good meal with him. I remember he went and bought a bunch of champagne and put it in a cooler. Then we went back to my house and a bunch of people showed up and we turned on the TV.

“It was good. It was definitely a day I’ll never forget.”

Now, a year later, coming out of Memorial Day Weekend, Stewart has a 1-2 record and a 2.93 ERA as a member of the Kernels rotation. Stewart struggled in a loss to Beloit on Monday, but had given up just three earned runs in his previous five starts combined.

Nearly two months in to his first full season of pro ball, Stewart talked about what he has found to be the toughest things to adjust to in professional baseball life.

One, the adjustment to going to the ballpark every day either to play or work out between starts, is commonly mentioned by first-year pro ballplayers.

“I think that’s kind of a cliché that everybody says, ‘you’re not used to playing every day,’ and you hear that so much, but it’s true,” said Stewart. “I think that most of us guys that haven’t played a full year are still kind of getting used to this kind of animal of 140 games in a season.

“I think definitely that’s been the hardest thing for me. And then being away from my home. There’s some days I’ve just wanted to pick up my stuff and go home. I think every kid goes through that.

“I mean, I haven’t had a freshman year of college yet, so I didn’t get to experience that kind of homesick feeling first. But I’m learning. I’m learning how to be a professional, to come every day and figure out that I’ve got a job to do.”

The other challenging adjustment is probably a bit more unique to a pitcher in Stewart’s rather unique situation as a multi-sport star in high school.

“Going in to the season, I hadn’t thrown a lot of innings,” explained Stewart. “I threw in high school seasons but football kind of kept me from (throwing after the season).

“I think I underestimated the amount of throwing that I’m going to be doing. But I think that everybody probably goes through that, even coming out of college. I think the two bullpens between every start (a byproduct of the Kernels’ six-man rotation). Ive never been used to that. Or throwing a bullpen the second day after you pitch, that was a new animal for me.

Stewart3

Kohl Stewart

“I think that going in to a couple of starts, I felt like my arm was dead. I think that my arm was learning how to adjust to that feeling and I think that now my arm is starting to build on it. I think that now my arm is getting stronger and I’m kind of building back up to that strength that I was at.

“I think that those two things were probably the toughest for me, but I think that as time goes on, I’m getting more used to it every day, so I think I’m doing alright.”

As a result of Stewart’s limited work in high school, he and the Twins clearly had a plan for Stewart to follow heading in to the season. Not only pitch count limits and innings limits, which are commonplace for teenage pitching prospects, but also plans that focus on learning his craft.

Stewart explained the plan and assessed his progress so far.

“I’ve definitely had some good starts and I’ve had some bad starts. I think going in to the season, they hammered some things in to my head that they want me to get done, such as fast-ball command. They want me to pound the zone. They want me to be efficient. They want me to pitch. They don’t want me throwing a lot of pitches. There’s a pitch count on me for a reason. They want me to be able to go as deep as I can in to games without running my pitch count up.

“One thing that they really want me to do is fast ball command. They don’t want me to get behind in counts and then have to work from behind. So, I think that focusing on that stuff with Ivan (Kernels pitching coach Ivan Arteaga) and our catchers, I think that’s really helped me a lot.

“So I think that getting these innings in and learning to get the change-up over. I hadn’t thrown very many change-ups and my change-up now is something that I go to a lot against lefties. And really, just getting ground balls and keeping the ball out of the air. I think I lived up in the zone in high school because I could. I used to just throw the ball as hard as I could and that’s not really pitching. I’ve had to learn to command the zone and not feel like I have to overpower everybody.

“Going in to the season, I’m trying to build on every start, but I think that the approach that I have right now that Ivan and Jake (manager Jake Mauer) and I have gone over, I think that the plan we have going in to every start is pretty good. I think that I like where things are headed, but I think that I have a lot of work to do.”

College football season doesn’t start for a couple of months, but Texas A&M and every other major program recently wrapped up their spring practices. Did that give Stewart an itch to get on the practice field and throw the football around?

“I didn’t have time for it,” replied the pitcher. “I was so busy figuring out what I was doing and stuff, just trying to get better.”

Not that football is forever banished from his mind, of course.

“Whenever I watch them on TV, I always get that itch,” admitted Stewart, “but I think everybody kind of enjoys watching those things on TV. I think when I go to the games, I feel like I’m there kind of part of the team. There’s always going to be a part of me that’s there. There’s always going to be that closeness that I have with those guys that are in that class.

“But they know that I’m doing what I love and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.”

**********

The Kernels return home to Cedar Rapids after Tuesday’s matinee series finale in Beloit. They’ll be home for six games (three vs Wisconsin and three vs Burlington). Friday night, May 30, is another special jersey promotion. It’s “Star Wars” night with white/black “storm trooper” themed jerseys that will be auctioned off via silent auction with proceeds going to a charity. The first 1,000 fans through the gates Friday also get a free Star Wars t-shirt.

Kernels Star Wars Jersey

Kernels Star Wars Jersey

 
Star Wars t-shirt giveaway

Star Wars t-shirt giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

– JC

(All photos: JC/Knuckleballs; jersey/t-shirt images: Kernels.com)

GameChat – Rangers @ Twins, 1:10

Look at that, would ya? A REAL outfield!

Yes, I know, Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia won’t make anyone’s list of ‘best defensive outfielders’ in MLB baseball, but at least neither of them have spent the past 10 years making a living playing shortstop.

More importantly, we’d like to hope that the arrival of Willingham and Arcia will mean fewer games where the Twins try to get by on 3-4 hits for an entire game.

I’ve got plans for the day, so I won’t be around to see or hear the game, but let’s hope our guys can put the weekend road sweep behind them and start a little winning streak of their own. – JC

Texas @ Minnesota
Choo, DH Dozier, 2B
Andrus, SS Mauer, 1B
Moreland, 1B Plouffe, 3B
Beltre, A, 3B Arcia, O, RF
Rios, A, RF Willingham, LF
Gimenez, C Kubel, DH
Martin, L, CF Suzuki, K, C
Choice, LF Hicks, CF
Odor, 2B Escobar, E, SS
  Tepesch, P   Correia, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
San Francisco 2 0 1 1 3 0 0 1 x 8 12 1

yeah we have definitely played better baseball on Memorial Day..

The biggest news for today is that Hicks is officially dropping the switch hitting label – he is going to be a righty only. Given his split stats, that’s probably a good idea.

Memorial Day is for Remembering

I sat down to write a Memorial Day post that captures the meaning of this Holiday and quickly determined I couldn’t do better than Babs did a year ago. So, rather than pale by comparison, I’ll simply re-post her contribution. Enjoy your holidays, but pause at some point today to remember. – JC

We’ll come back to baseball later today, of course, but I want to encourage all of our readers to take a moment’s pause today. For all those who have served in our nation’s military, we thank you.  For all those families who have sacrificed, we thank you.

But in the true recognition of Memorial Day and it’s history, we remember those who fell in the service of this country and we honor their memory. This is not Veterans Day -although I esteem them highly and am very glad to have them with us. This is Memorial Day – the time to remember those who never came home paying a cost none of us have ever paid.

There is no way to pay the debt owed for the privileges I enjoy.  I can only recognize the depth of loss.

We encourage all our readers to enjoy their Memorial Day in whatever manner they choose but to take a moment during the day to remember those we’ve lost. We use this quote a lot but considering Memorial Day was born out of the Civil War, it seems appropriate.

… The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion … 

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

GameChat – Minnesota @ San Francisco, #3, 3:05

One more game on the left coast as the Twins try to end the road trip on a high note.

Roster changes are being promised for when the Twins get back home. I hope that means this is the last time we see three shortstops in the Twins line up for a while.

Minnesota @ San Francisco
Dozier, 2B Blanco, G, CF
Mauer, 1B Pence, RF
Plouffe, 3B Posey, C
Suzuki, K, C Sandoval, 3B
Nunez, LF Morse, 1B
Parmelee, RF Colvin, LF
Escobar, E, SS Crawford, B, SS
Santana, D, CF Hicks, 2B
Nolasco, P Bumgarner, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
San Francisco 2 0 1 1 3 0 0 1 x 8 12 1

This looks like another one of those games that almost makes me glad the Twins front office has decided that Iowa should be blacked out from seeing. – JC

GameChat – MInnesota @ San Diego #2, 8:10 pm

Does this game start earlier tonight? It appears so.

Regardless, here are tonight’s lineups.

Minnesota San Diego
Dozier, 2B Cabrera, E, SS
Mauer, 1B Smith, S, LF
Plouffe, 3B Headley, 3B
Parmelee, RF Alonso, 1B
Suzuki, K, C Gyorko, 2B
Kubel, LF Venable, RF
Escobar, E, SS Maybin, CF
Hicks, CF Rivera, R, C
Hughes, P, P Ross, T, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 4 0
San Diego 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1

Hey this winning thing is kind of fun, isn’t it? Sure, 80% of Twins fans don’t really find out about the win until the following day when it all takes place after normal people head to bed, but it’s still a W.

Only 4 hits for the Twins, so it’s tough to find a lot of offensive heroes, but Chris Parmelee’s RBI single in the 6th got the Twins on the board and Trevor Plouffe had half the team’s hits, including a HR for an insurance run in the 8th.

But BOD honors go to Phil Hughes, who contributed another excellent start. 7 innings.of shutout moundwork, 7 hits, no walks and 7 Ks. Nice.

And in honor of this achievement taking place in a National League park where Hughes had to borrow a helmet and bat three times, we have a picture I took proving he actually got some practice using the bat during spring training in March.

HughesBatting1