Friday, March 11, 2011

Twins Spring Training: Week 2 Update

Week 2 of Twins Spring Training games has come and gone. Now it's time to look back on some of the headlines from the week that was in Twins Spring Training...

Morneau's Return
For Twins fans, this was easily the biggest news of the week. It was unbelievable to see Justin Morneau on the field. He hit the ball, ran the bases, fielded at 1B, and did everything that he needed to do on the field. He came back the next day and said he felt fine after going through the riggers of his first game in months. As Morneau and the Twins have reiterated, this is just another step on his path to recovery. It was a welcome step for fans to witness and it brings a lot of hope for the upcoming season.

Young's First Appearance
Delmon Young made his first appearance of the spring in the same game that Morneau made his return. I am sure that the Pirates "B" team was less than pleased to see Morneau and Young batting in the middle of the line-up for the Twins "B" team. Young has been battling. Original reports had Young's injury being called turf toe but recent MRI results have it pegged as a swollen joint capsule (click here for more information). Young walked in both of his appearances but was able to run the bases with ease. He scored from 1st on the double that was hit by Morneau. This is another sign that the team is getting healthy as Opening Day approaches.

Pavano's Untouchable
To say Pavano has been impressive this spring would be an understatement. He has looked like a man on a mission and he seems to already be in mid-season form. Other pitchers in the Twins rotation haven't looked as impressive this spring so having Pavano ready could be a key to the start of the season for the Twins. Pavano has racked up some impressive stats during the hot start that he is having this spring. In his three appearances he has yet to allow a run while giving up only 4 hits and 1 free pass. He is the veteran rock that the other pitchers are going to have to lean on for the team to succeed this year.

Blackburn's slotted into the rotation
At the end of last week the Twins knew that three players were part of the rotation: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Brian Duensing. Since that time the fourth member of the starting staff was added to the fold. Nick Blackburn was named as another member of the Twins rotation and this leaves one spot in the rotation to fill. Blackburn responded to the news that he was in the rotation with a rough outing on Thursday. He tossed 3 innings and gave up 5 runs, 3 of them earned, including 2 homeruns. Not exactly the end to a perfect week...

2nd Week Pitching Star:
Joe Nathan (2 IP, 0 H, 0R, 1 BB, 1 K) As mentioned above, Pavano continues to dazzle in his starting role. But one of the biggest surprises for Twins fans this spring might be how well Joe Nathan has done. He has pitched in 4 innings and has yet to give up a hit. Nathan also has 2 strikeouts along with 2 walks. The velocity of Nathan's pitches continues to improve and with that improvement there should be an increase in his strikeouts.

2nd Week Hitting Star:
Luke Hughes (.357 BA, 5 RBI, 1 HR) The Australian native, Hughes, is making it hard for the Twins to leave him in the minor leagues. He is getting plenty of playing time this spring and he walks away with his second straight week of being the Hitting Star for the Twins. He seems to be able to knock a run in almost every game. There has also been a lot of strikeouts from this young player. That is a statistic he will need to be in better control of if he wants to make it in the show. 

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