Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

As with all Tuesday's for the rest of the minor league baseball season, I will be writing the minor league update for the TwinsDaily website later tonight. So make sure to check back for my post on all of the happenings across the Twins farm system. Until then, here are a few "Tuesday Morning Tidbits" to keep you satisfied until this evening.
Gibson set to pitch off of the mound
Kyle Gibson, the Twins 2009 first round pick, has been slowly working his way back from Tommy John surgery and it is getting closer to him being able to pitch off of the mound. According to his Facebook account, he will be throwing from 135 feet this week and 150 feet next week before stepping on the mound for the first time on June 4. He will get to throw 15 pitches in his first bullpen session.

During the beginning of the year, Terry Ryan said that Gibson was on pace to pitch in minor league games by the end of the summer so his progression is nice to see. With many current members of the Twins starting rotation slated to be free agents, the Twins might need Gibson to be ready for the big leagues in 2013.

It will be interesting to see if the Twins follow a similar plan to Stephen Strasburg for Gibson's first year back following the procedure. The Nationals are limiting the amount of innings Strasburg will pitch and they followed a similar plan with starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman. It seems like the Twins will take any starting pitcher that can keep them in a game at this point so Gibson's recovery could be key for next year.

Ford continues on comeback trail
Former fan favorite Lew Ford (see photo above) has been bouncing around baseball leagues in recent years. This has seen him play all over the country in independant leagues and even in other countries like Japan and Mexico as he tried to make it back for one more shot at the big leagues. For a 35-year old scrappy outfielder, this can be a challenge and making it through to a 25-man roster would be even harder for him to do. 

Over the weekend, the news came out that Ford signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles and he was assigned to their Triple-A club in Norfolk. In his first four games with the Tides, he has batted .375/.444/.500 with two doubles and two RBI in 16 at-bats. He also has muliple hit games in two of his first four games

With the Orioles being in first place, it would be great to see Ford get a call-up to help the club push for a division crown. Ford will always have a special place in the hearts of Twins fans so watch this video of him hitting a double with his new team and get ready to yell "LLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW."

Butera throwing heat
For the second year in a row, the Twins were forced to use a position player on the mound to cover the last inning of a blowout loss. In 2011, Michael Cuddyer took the field against the Rangers and pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Cuddyer left the team in free agency so the Twins had to look for a different arm on Sunday afternoon. Drew Butera stepped up and pitched a pretty decent frame for the Twins. 

In Cuddyer's outing, Texas was able to mount a threat against him on the strength of a couple hits and a walk. During his inning of work, Cuddyer showed a variety of pitches with his fastball averaging around 87 mph. He mixed in a cutter, a slider, and a change up but for the most part he tried to just throw the ball over the plate to get the Twins out of a terrible 20-6 loss.

Compared to Cuddyer, Butera looked like Nolan Ryan when he stepped on the mound. The radar gun had Butera throwing as high as 94 mph with his fastball and he worked a decent change-up into the mix. With the good arm Butera has shown behind the plate, it could be assumed that he would have a little something behind his pitches. His fastball averaged close to 90 mph and his change-up sat around 79 mph. He even got former Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez to strike out swinging in very Gomez like fashion.

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