Just another walk in the (ball)park

Spending the day at the Twins’ spring training complex, for me, involves spending a good bit of the morning on the minor league complex. I enjoy watching the coaches put the younger players through their drills and give a bit of instruction along the way. I thought this would be a good time to share a couple of pictures from my Sunday morning.

Twins pitching prospect David Bromberg gets some instruction.

Terry Ryan discusses the "Twins way" with prospect Ramon Santana... who tucked his jersey back in his pants.

Twins teen aged Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano gets in some work at 3B.

On the way back over to the Hammond Stadium, this familiar face was spotted on Field 5 (next to the stadium).

Joe Nathan signs autograph after a workout on the day he and the team announced he'll undergo TJ surgery.

Finally, a few shots taken during the Sunday afternoon game with the Rays. (No story today… nothing I could come up with would top the “story” of Joe Mauer signing a contract that will keep him a Twin for the next 9 years!)

Orlando Hudson turns a base hit in to an out vs. the Rays.

1B coach Jerry White congratulates Joe Mauer on his single vs. the Rays... or was it on the new contract?

Michael Cuddyer is congratulated by Thome and Morneau following his HR vs the Rays.

St. Patty’s day during Spring Training!

Submitted by fellow reader, Corey, who’s down enjoying Spring Training.
 
So, for my first day of Vacation, I headed over to the Cru Restaurant in Fort Myers to meet my friends Omar and Jeri-Lynn. (I went to art school with Omar in New Jersey back in the day.) The plan was to stay anchored at the bar at Cru and celebrate St. Patty’s Day.
 
I met Jeri at about 5:15 and we proceeded to enjoy the evening. Omar arrived about 30 minutes later and rapidly the bar was filling with other patrons. At about 8:30 or so, the bar was PACKED, shoulder to shoulder and I happened to notice three gentlemen walk (squeeze is a better word) past us all at the same time. I recognized the third one almost immediately, but I wasn’t totally sure (I was fairly “happy” at that point).
 
The three men took up a spot not 20 feet from where I was with my friends, and I just studied the their faces, knowing that I knew who they had to be…and it hit me. They were: Denard Span, Delmon Young, and Orlando Hudson of the Minnesota Twins. So I walked over, quickly introduced myself, shook their hands, gave them their props and politely asked for a photo.
 
About an hour later, three other men squeezed into the bar going the opposite direction. I knew exactly who they were, since they were a foot away: Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, and Nick Punto. I acknowledged each of them, shook each of their hands, gave `em their props and they kept on a movin’, so I had no chance for a photo. They were polite, but curt. Of the three, Nick Punto seemed the one most genuinely happy about meeting a fan from Minnesota.
 
Thirty minutes later…former Twin (and current non-roster invitee to Spring Training) Jacque Jones walked in with another person I did not know. Again, I introduced myself as being a fan from Minny and gave Jacque his props and unfortunately again, no chance for a photo.
 
To randomly meet SEVEN Twins players in one hip bar in Fort Myers on St. Patty’s Day was quite unusual. But, memorable!!

Corey with Orlando Hudson, Delmon Young and Denard Span

Joe Nathan might go on the DL!!

Man, a girl can take it pretty hard when her baseball BF has what looks like it might be a season ending injury.  I’m pretty darn loyal in my love of my favorite baseball players but even I have to look at my team and try to picture what this season might look like without Joe Nathan.

photo courtesy of Corey Sauer

For me this is just not a question that stats alone can answer.  Twitchy fills a very special role with this team that can’t be filled by whoever is in the room.  I think for some, it’s easier to look outside our little team family for backup possibilities because they feel like they already know everyone on the team and they would require a lot of investment to get them ready to fill the role.  I’m in the group that sees SO many options available to us internally, that I couldn’t even DREAM of looking outside the players we already have. 

I certainly have the highest hopes that Joe Nathan will be back with us, giving me the shivers, and delivering nasty fastballs and filthy sliders.  I just LOVE me a dirty pitcher!  But every role should have a backup so here’s what I consider my top 3 backup options to be:

1) Sideshow, ie Pat Neshek, has LONG been a favorite of mine.  It started out of pure entertainment value and then I realized how devastating he could be to opposing batters and my love deepened.  Do I think he has the ability?  yes.  Do I think he’s ready to step into that role?  I’m not sure.  I don’t think he’s had the pressure of that kind of attention before and it would would require some adaptation not to mention the job can be exhausting.

2) Shaggy, ie. Matty Guerrier, is DEFINITELY a possibility and one I honestly had never really considered for this kind of role in the past.  He’s done a very good job for this team but somehow he’s always been in the shadow of more spectacular players and has done well in whatever role assigned but never shined.  This could be his opportunity to take the spotlight and I think it’s my job to take another look!

3)  Blacky, ie Nick Blackburn, is probably the most obvious of my choices simply because he’s been making me drool ever since his first late season callup when he got SHELLED but took one for the team and stayed out with more composure than I could have imagined possible for a rookie pitcher.  Now that he’s with the team full time, he’s put together seasons that surprised everyone with how solid he could be – even some applying the term “ACE” far too liberally (IMHO) last year – and has been at the core of a young but dependable starting rotation.

What do you mean he’s not a relief pitcher???  well, duh!  OH WAIT?!  You thought I was talking about who would be the new CLOSER??!?!?!?!  oh good grief, no. 

I meant who is my backup BF if Nathan has to be away from us for awhile!  I’ll leave assigning the closer responsibilities to the team staff.  They most certainly have a lot to choose from and I look forward to the season.  I still hope we get to see Nathan making opposing pitchers look ridiculous but if not, we have great guys out there willing to step up.