Come this Thursday, pitchers and Catchers will officially report for spring training with the rest of the team reporting a few days later. Here are some things to watch as spring training progresses.
The Twins head into spring training with several bullpen spots open due to the departures of Jessie Craine, Matt Guerrier, and Jon Rauch. There are several candidates that will be competing for 3 bullpen spots with the Twins, one of wich will be taken by the extra starter. The list includes Scott Diamond, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Atlanta Braves organization, Jim Hoey, acquired in the J.J. Hardy trade with the Baltomore Orioles, and several other pitchers in the Twins organization. Some of those pitchers to watch would include Pat Nesek, who is trying to return to his old form from before having elbow surgery after the 2008 season. Glen Perkins, who I believe is on a short leash because of past dealings he’s had with the Twins management. He needs to prove himself this season. Alex Burnette and Eric Hacker are also possible bullpen candidates.
Jeff Manship could possibily end up being the long relief man along with the one starter that doesn’t make it to the starting rotation. The starter that doesn’t make it to the starting rotation will either be Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey, but could also be Brian Duensing, but I think he’s more likely to be the other left handed starter in the rotation.
Both Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan are returning from injuries. Morneau suffered a concussion last July which resulted him in missing the remainder of the season. Nathan suffered a torn legament in his elbow last March which resulted him missing the entire season. Both have been doing well in their off season training programs. If Nathan can’t be the full time closer, Matt Capps is available to take the role. It is expected that Morneau will be ready to go come April 1 when the Twins open the season at Turronto. If Morneau isn’t ready, Michael Cuddyer will be stepping in again at first base.
The middle infield isn’t fully settled as far as who will play where. Alexi Cassilla and Tsuyoashi Nishioka are expected to man the middle infield. Manager Ron Gardenhire has indicated that Nishioka will play at second and Cassilla will play at short.
So, there you have it, my things that I suggest that fans watch this upcoming Spring Training. I’m sure that many of you will be making a trip down to Fort Meyers to get away from the cold winter. And by the way folks, it’s about a month and a half till season starts. Now that should warm you up. So long everyone!