Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

After pulling out a victory in a 15-inning affair on Sunday afternoon and into Sunday evening, the Twins got a much needed day of rest yesterday before traveling to Pittsburgh. The Twins will play the Pirates and the Reds to complete their interleague schedule before returning home and getting back into American League action. Both of these teams have been playing well in the last couple weeks so it will be interesting to see how the Twins fare on their current road trip.

Even with the off day for the Twins, there were plenty of interesting notes from across the organization. So let's get caught up with this week's edition of "Tuesday Morning Tidbits."

Arcia moving up to New Britain
With many prospects for the the Twins running into some kind of speed bump in the middle part of the season, it is good to see one of their top prospects succeeding enough to be moved to the next level. Oswaldo Arcia entered the season as one of the top prospects in the Twins organization but his play so far this year is separating him from the pack. After the Florida State League All-Star Game this weekend, Arcia was informed to report to New Britain.

The left-handed slugging outfielder was batting .309/.376/.517 with 16 doubles and seven home runs in 55 games for Fort Myers. It was his second taste of the FSL after he missed a chunk of last season following left elbow surgery. One of the biggest changes has been his plate recognition that is being shown in his ability to draw more walks. Last year in about the same amount of at-bats he had nine total walks and that number has increased to 23 so far this season.

He is only 21-years old and this is a fairly young age for someone to be entering Eastern League play. The Twins need to see how Arcia can handle the fire since he had to be added to the 40-man roster this past offseason. So far in his career, Arica has faced every challenge that has come his way and the Twins hope that trend continues in New Britain.
Mauer getting beat up behind the plate
The Twins have completed 65 games on their schedule and Joe Mauer has played in 60 of those contests. A couple of those appearances have been late inning pinch hitting situations but Mauer has been there for the most part. He has appeared in 92% of the team's games which is great to see after a 2011 season where Mauer only played in 50.6% of the team's schedule. Not all of Mauer's playing time has come with him at catcher but being able to place his name in the line-up on a daily basis is a big step over last year.

After sitting out Saturday's game with a sore hamstring, Mauer was back behind the plate on Sunday in what might have seemed like a surprise move. If a player has a sore hamstring, the last thing a team would want to do is have him squat behind the plate for nine innings (or 15 innings). Mauer's hamstring seemed to be holding up fine until a collision at home plate with Rickie Weeks caused him to bruise his right quad.

From the sounds of the postgame report, Mauer was not please with the way that Weeks slid into home. I don't think there were too many people who would think this was a dirty play by Weeks so there doesn't seem to be much basis for Mauer's argument. It also sounds like Mauer should be back in the line-up soon and the team is only listing him as day-to-day with his newest injury. This is a good sign if he wants to continue to play in over 90% of the Twins games this year. 

Slama out at least a month
One of the best pitchers in the minor leagues so far this season had been relief pitcher Anthony Slama. He had almost been untouchable in his 22.2 innings of work for the Red Wings as he posted a 0.40 ERA with 37 strikeouts. It is the fourth season that he has spent at least part of the year at Triple-A so it was put up or shut up time for Slama. He had completed nine saves on the year and it seemed like he would be given a shot at the big league level at some point this season.

In an unfortunate turn of events for Slama, he will miss four to six weeks after being hit by a comebacker on the mound. He has a broken bone in his right leg and it will take time to heal and recover. One of the brightest spots for the Twins in 2012 has been the bullpen so it remains to be seen if Slama would have even been called up. He isn't currently on the 40-man roster so the Twins would be forced to make another change if they wanted him on the big league roster.

The Twins seem reluctant to give Slama an extended look at the major league level as a 28-year old relief pitcher. He has put up decent numbers at Triple-A for the last three years but this has only translated to a couple of games with the Twins. He has 7.0 total innings at the MLB level so it is hard to know what kind of player he could be. His numbers this year seem to indicate that he has mastered AAA and now it looks like a call-up will have to wait until the end of the year because of his injury.

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