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Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Training Highs - Hitting

After some consideration I decided to put the kibosh on finishing the central showdown piece. It is getting dangerously close to opening day and there is so much to discuss, lesson learned for next season.
Camp has gone well for the Twins with no significant injury concerns or crises (so far). Despite the fact that spring form isn’t something to be bought into (who remembers Chris Shelton of the Tigers a few seasons ago), as baseball fans waiting for the opening day of a team that lost 99 games n 2011, what else do we have? Here are some of the Twins highs and lows so far this spring.
After some initial injury concerns Luke Hughes has made a strong bid to make the big league club, raking all spring to the tune of .385/.429/.795 with 4 HR and 13 RBI through 39 spring ABs. It would be very surprising at this point if Hughes did not leave Fort Myers with the big league club.
Alexi Casilla and Ben Revere have had solid springs so far, Casilla contributing a line of .355/.429/.387 with 3 stolen bases while Revere has managed .325/.357/.375 and showed an improved arm in the outfield, an issue he has worked hard to address this offseason. Gardenhire recently admitted that Willingham will start opening day in LF, while Span will be the team’s center fielder. That leaves a three horse race between Revere, Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee for the RF spot. Revere’s solid play in his rookie season combined with his hot spring should be enough to win him the starting job.
Finally, how could we get through the post without the big three? Monumentally, Span, Mauer and Morneau have managed to get through spring unscathed. No Twins could honestly say their heart strings didn’t flutter a little when Morneau broke his miserable spring slump to crush 2 HR on March 24th against Tampa Bay. While Morneau was quick to downplay this performance and wisely so, he has improved and gone 4 for his last 9 at the plate and most importantly of all, is reporting no symptoms of his career threatening post-concussion syndrome.
Mauer has quietly put together a good spring, going .333/.381/.385, while playing time at 1B and C and reporting having never felt stronger at this stage of spring. Span has also played well despite an early scare in which he crashed into the center field wall, hitting .300/.378/.350. Ron Gardenhire deserves credit for managing all three meticulously this spring, typically using them on alternate days and avoiding taking them on several of the Twins longer road trips. While spring shouldn’t be read into, this is no ordinary year for the Twins and the one thing I find myself struggling not to read into is this; Minnesota should go into opening day with a healthy Span, Mauer and Morneau – what a relief.

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