Twins Win a Little and Lose a Lot

After beating the Red Sox for the second straight day, the Twins are 2-0 in the young 2014 Spring Training season. They topped the Sox 6-2 on Saturday with a three-run Chris Parmelee blast providing the biggest offensive blow. That’s the good news.

But the good news of a virtually meaningless exhibition win pales compared to the bad news that came out of the Twins’ camp in Fort Myers Saturday morning.

Miguel Sano, perhaps the top power hitting prospect in all of baseball, will undergo “Tommy John” surgery to reconstruct his ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing arm) elbow. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press posted a number of videos Saturday where you can hear from Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony and, if your heart can stand it, from Sano himself.

Miguel Sano as a Beloit Snapper

Miguel Sano as a Beloit Snapper

Judging from the way Twitter blew up after the announcement, Twins fans are clearly disappointed and frustrated. That’s understandable. But, obviously, nobody is more disappointed than Sano, himself (although manager Ron Gardenhire no doubt has cause to feel a fair amount of disappointment, as well).

As you’d probably expect, a number of fans were looking for someone to blame. Whenever stuff happens that disappoints a fan base, especially a fan base as frustrated as Twins fans have become after three years of dreadful results on the field, the immediate reaction is to identify people to blame. The Twins’ front office and their medical staff are catching most of the flack over Sano’s misfortune.

On the one hand, that’s understandable. You don’t have to go back many years to come up with any number of examples where injuries and other medical conditions were arguably initially misdiagnosed and players ended up missing more playing time than they probably should have. In fact, the Twins did make some changes to their medical/training staff going in to last season.

Sano’s UCL injury was originally identified after he felt twinges in his elbow last season and then was shut down after just a couple of winter league games. The Twins medical staff and Dr. James Andrews, perhaps the leading authority in the world with regard to UCL injuries, agreed in November that the best course of action at that time was rest and rehabilitation.

Of course, what the Twins SHOULD have done at the time was have their PR guys put out a poll on Twitter to get the advice of those fans who know better than the specialists when it comes to determining the best course of action for these things.

These injuries typically take pitchers a year to recover from, but position players can recover as soon as eight months, since they don’t contort their arms to spin the ball different directions when they throw it the way pitchers do. Sano should start being able to take swings in four months. Antony told the TV audience during Saturday’s game that Sano could possibly return in time to DH in some minor league games late this season, if that’s what the Twins choose to do.

Practically speaking, however, Sano’s 2014 season is going to be a wash. He should be fine to ramp up during next offseason and be ready to go all out during Spring Training 2015.

The Twitter experts, however, using perfect 20-20 hindsight, want to blame someone for not having the surgery done in November. If Sano’s injury had been a full UCL tear, that’s what they would have done. But it was only a partial tear and those injuries are less cut and dried. For position players, the real experts tell us that it’s possible to simply play through some partial tears with sufficient rest for the elbow.

Had Sano undergone surgery during the offseason, maybe he could have been cleared for full play in the field by August, in time for one month of minor league ball. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he would finish the season with the Twins.

Either way, 2014 was going to be virtually a lost season if it turned out resting the elbow wouldn’t allow him to avoid surgery. And either way, he was going to be ready to challenge for the Twins 3B job in spring training 2015. So it was clearly worth a try to avoid surgery.

And even if it wasn’t clear to me that it was the right course of action, it was the recommendation of people with medical degrees who have actual experience treating UCL injuries, including the doctor who is the preeminent expert in the field.

The arrival of Sano with the Twins, at some point in 2014, was at least something to look forward to during what’s expected to be another pretty disappointing season. It’s natural for fans to be frustrated to learn that’s not going to happen. But if he’d had surgery earlier, he wouldn’t have arrived in Minnesota this year anyway.

It’s not easy, I know, but we’re all just going to have to wait to see number 24 launch balls in to the left field seats at Target Field. It will be worth the wait.

– JC

Episode 69: Jim Callis talks Minnesota Twins Prospects

This week on the podcast we discuss good Twins related cat names, among other 80 grade banter. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

JC Podcast Image

This highlight of this week’s podcast is an interview with Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) of MLB Pipeline to talk about Twins prospects. Jim answers questions about all of the top prospects in the organization Byron BuxtonMiguel SanoAlex MeyerKohl Stewart and then some. In addition to the interview this week’s show also includes a discussion on what a successful 2014 Twins season means to each of the podcast hosts, the creation of the Ethan Mildren (@Emildren4040) fan club. Ethan was the Minnesota Twins’ 2013 12th round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh.

Enjoy the show!

 

 

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, and you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews do nothing for us, we just like talking about them.

GameChat – Twins @ Rays, 12:05pm, FSN+

ooops! Almost forgot that today was a televised game and that people might want to chat about it! Here you go! Sadly, they don’t have the lineups on the website yet but I’ll add them as soon as I have access.

Good News: Added the rosters that finally went up in time for first pitch.

Bad News: Comcast seems to be having a signal mixup for FSN+. If you have Dish, you’re doing just fine to see the game. If you have cable, apparently you’re expected to Zumba.

Minnesota

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Tampa Bay
Hicks, CF Jennings, CF
Dozier, 2B Zobrist, RF
Willingham, DH Joyce, LF
Doumit, C Longoria, 3B
Ramirez, W, LF Scott, DH
Mastroianni, RF Escobar, Y, SS
Rohlfing, 1B Loney, 1B
Escobar, 3B Lobaton, C
Florimon, SS Johnson, K, 2B
  Correia, P   Price, P

 

 

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Minnesota

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Tampa Bay

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Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 30

Episode 30 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

JOEMAUER

 

This week on Talk to Contact Paul and Eric (And Cody Christie) talk about the future of Joe Mauer, and the 25-Man roster on Opening Day.  They then bring in Cody Christie to talk about prospect Rory Rhodes, Eddie Guardado, and the rest to the stories around Major League Baseball.  Join us for two hours of fun!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help Samuel Deduno limit his walks).

You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.

– ERolfPleiss

Twins Daily Viewing Party! THIS SATURDAY!

For those local to the MN Twin Cities area, our first viewing party of the year is coming up this weekend and it’s not even the regular season yet! If you don’t follow Twins Daily (yeah, you probably should) you may have missed the announcement but they are the hosts for the fun this weekend. You should definitely check it out!

Twins Daily Viewing Party graphic

You are guaranteed to have great company and if I can finish my morning commitment, I really want to check out that new location, 612 Brew! Hope to see you there!

GameChat – Twins vs. Yankees – 6:05pm – FSN+

The big news tonight is that the Twins’ top prospect, Miguel Sano, will be starting at third base in place of the injured Trevor Plouffe.  So if you managed to tear yourself away from the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament for a couple hours, you are being rewarded with a glimpse of the future.  Unfortunately almost all of the other establish Big Leaguers stayed back in Fort Myers, so you’ll be seeing plenty of hot Drew Butera action this evening as well.

It might seem like half of the Yankees are injured, but a top of the lineup featuring Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis can do a lot of damage, especially if Liam Hendriks is missing his spots.

Enjoy the game!

 Minnesota Twins

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 New York Yankees
 Hicks, CF  Gardner, CF
 Dozier, 2B  Suzuki, I, LF
 Clement, DH  Cano, 2B
 Parmelee, 1B  Youkilis, 1B
 Sano, 3B  Hafner, DH
 Mastroianni, RF  Boesch, RF
 Benson, LF  Nunez, E, SS
 Butera, C  Nix, J, 3B
 Florimon, SS  Stewart, C, C
 _Hendriks, P  _Phelps, D, P

Despite striking out a combined 15 times, the Twins picked up a Spring Training win against the Evil Empire, 6-1.  Even more impressive, the Twins pitchers, Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries and Pedro Hernandez held the Yankees to just one hit!  Hendriks and De Vries pitched four innings a piece with Hendriks allowing the only hit and an unearned run.

Miguel Sano did not disappoint in his first Spring Training appearance going two for five at the plate and adding a nice defensive play at third base that included a corner-to-corner throw to get the runner by half a step at first base.

All in all a pretty enjoyable game, and any time the Twins beat the Yankees, there is much rejoicing.

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NY Yankees 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3

There was a lot of discussion after the game when we were voting on the Boyfriend of the Day (BOD, the equivalent of a game MVP).  There were votes for Drew Butera and his 3 RBI, votes for the pitching staff’s one-hitter, and a vote apiece for Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano.  Since no consensus could be reached (and Spring Training stats don’t matter) I get to pick whoever I want.

Congratulations EDUARDO ESCOBAR!  Escobar was one-for-one with an RBI as a late inning defensive replacement for Brian Dozier.  I’m more confident by the day that Escobar will be on the roster for Opening Day, so consider this your formal introduction to the Twins utility infielder.

Escobar-Eduardo-2