Friday, March 4, 2011

Twins Spring Training: Week 1 Update

The first week of Twins Spring Training games is coming to a close and there are many headlines for fans to follow as Opening Day inches closer.

Duensing will "absolutely" be in the rotation
The Twins entered the spring knowing a few things about the starting rotation. #1 Pavano and Liriano were locks for the first two spots in the order. #2 There were four other pitchers (Baker, Blackburn, Duensing, and Slowey) to fill the last three rotation spots. Gardenhire announced this week that Duensing was "absolutely" going to be in the Opening Day starting rotation. This is well deserved after the seasons that Duensing has put together the last two years.

Nishioka's first action
In his first game for the Twins, Nishioka was able to show off many of the talents that he brings to the organization. He showed speed running on the basepaths, he made some outstanding defensive plays at 2B, and he even got a RBI-single. The rest of the week hasn't been very good for Nishioka. In the week he has played in 3 games and compiled 9 at-bats. The only hit he has was in that first game so his batting average is a woeful .111 for the Spring. But it is still early and Gardenhire seems confident leaving him in the number two spot in the batting order.

Nathan's Return
One of the most excited things for Twins fans this week was the return of Joe Nathan to a live game for the first time in a year. His outing was fairly uneventful and that is a good thing. In one inning of work he threw 20 pitches. Those pitches lead to one walk, two flyouts, and a slow grounder to 2B. His speed ranged anywhere from 86 to 91 mph. After the game he said he felt "normal" and that is a great sign for the 2011 Twins.

Gibson's first appearance
The one prospect that a lot of fans are excited about this Spring Training is Kyle Gibson. He made his first appearance in a game this week and there were definitely some nerves on display. In his one inning of work he allowed an earned run, two hits, and a walk. A come-backer to the mound turned into a double play that ended the inning for Gibson. After the game he tweeted, "Decent first outing. Hope to improve each time and get some good experience!"

First Week Pitching Star:
Carl Pavano (5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 3 K, 0 BB) The sentimental pick for this week might have been Joe Nathan and all that he accomplished. Pavano's week was hard to ignore and it shows why Gardenhire has already picked him to be the Opening Day starter. He is also driven by the Twins loss to the Yankees in last year's playoffs. Pavano has his new contract and the drive to make it further in the playoffs. I like where this is going. 

First Week Hitting Star: 
Luke Hughes (.455 BA, .500 OBP, 1.000 SLG, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) This award could have easily gone to Danny Valencia for the number that he put up for the week in less at-bats than Hughes. But I couldn't ignore the power surge that Hughes has amassed to begin the year. His injury filled past is something that could hold him back but I would definitely like to see more of him at the big league level this season.

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