Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Jose Mijares’

Twins notebook, 6/25

June 25, 2011 Comments off

Gardenhire holds team meeting to clear air

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MILWAUKEE — If he did not want to throw a 3-2 fastball to Prince Fielder, then all Jose Mijares had to do was shake Joe Mauer off, or call him out to the mound.But once he threw that pitch, Mijares should have taken responsibility for it after Fielder ripped it to right field for a go-ahead double, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

“Every player’s got to be accountable, and Mija knows that,” Gardenhire said. “If you have the ball in your hand as a pitcher, and a catcher’s calling something you don’t want to throw, the one rule of this game is that you don’t have to throw it, because you have the ball.”

Gardenhire met with Mijares and Mauer before Saturday’s game, and the Twins also had a team meeting three hours before the first pitch to “clear the air.”

While the lefty reliever did not say anything his manager had not already said Friday night, Gardenhire noted that there was a difference between the manager questioning the pitch selection and the pitcher doing the same.”I can say those things, and I would’ve liked to see a breaking ball, but a pitcher can’t,” Gardenhire said. “If he doesn’t want to throw something, don’t throw it. That’s totally on your own shoulders and that’s being accountable.”

Regardless of who was at fault in the at-bat, Gardenhire made it clear that he did not want the issue to linger within the Twins’ clubhouse.

For that reason, he called the quick pregame meeting.

Though he also would have preferred to see a slider in that situation, Gardenhire said that if Mijares had better executed the pitch and put it where Mauer wanted it, the whole situation may have been avoided.

“I think Joe said it best,” Gardenhire said. “Yes he did call for a fastball, but he did not call a fastball down the middle.”

Gardenhire talks out struggles with Nishioka

MILWAUKEE — Not wanting his shortstop to get frustrated over his struggles at the plate, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire called Tsuyoshi Nishioka into his office after Friday night’s 4-3 loss to talk.

“He needs to keep swinging and get more at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll get better as we go along. I just don’t want him to get too frustrated, bottle it all up, and start worrying about things that he doesn’t need to worry about.”

Nishioka has batted just .160 with two doubles and two RBIs in eight games since returning from the disabled list.

He’s also struck out eight times in 25 at-bats over that stretch, after missing 60 games due to a fractured left fibula.

“He’s back here, he’s been hurt a long time, and I want him to get out there and relax, get some swings in, and I told him that last night,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want him to get too emotionally caught up, worrying about not doing his job.”

Valencia, Braun recall time at Miami

MILWAUKEE — As teammates at the University of Miami, Danny Valencia and Ryan Braun once each hit three-run home runs in the same game.

On Friday night, it was Valencia who put a three-run homer into the seats at Miller Park, giving the Twins a 3-2 lead at the time. Braun said that he wasn’t too thrilled about watching Valencia’s home-run ball go over the left-field fence.

“That’s never fun, you never want to see guys have success against us, but against everybody else I definitely root for him,” Braun said. “I obviously wish him the best, and not just him, but everybody else that we played with as well. It’s pretty cool to see quite a few guys in the Major Leagues and having a lot of success.”

In 2005, Valencia and Braun manned the corner infield spots for the Miami Hurricanes during their sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. They were part of a Miami team that also featured Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay and Indians closer Chris Perez.

During that season, Valencia and Braun combined for 153 hits, 24 home runs and 139 RBIs for Miami, which lost in the Super Regional round to a Nebraska team that featured Alex Gordon at third base and Brian Duensing out of the bullpen.

The two still remain in touch with each other and many other Miami teammates.

“Yeah, of course, man,” Braun said. “I follow everybody, keep in touch with everybody. He’s doing well, I’m happy for him and it’s good to see. Especially because obviously he wasn’t a high Draft pick, so the fact that he’s made it is that much more impressive. And he’s gotten an opportunity, really taken advantage of it, and done really well.”

During batting practice on Friday before the series kicked off, the two took a few minutes to catch up.

They only spent the one season together before Braun was drafted fifth overall by the Brewers, but Valencia said he enjoyed playing with Braun and all the talented players on that Miami team.

“I looked up to him because he was just a really, really talented player,” Valencia said. “He was a good guy, he’s hilarious and he’s fun to be around. He keeps everything loose, makes you feel comfortable.”

Slowey tosses two frames in Class A

MILWAUKEE — Twins head trainer Rick McWane gave quick updates on Saturday on right-hander Kevin Slowey and outfielders Denard Span and Jason Kubel.

Slowey threw two innings on Saturday night in Class A Advanced, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts.

Kubel ran the bases on Saturday and will do the same on Sunday before joining the Twins for a full workout on Monday at Target Field.

Span had another good day on Saturday and will be reevaluated when the Twins return home.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker’s solid effort for naught vs. Crew

June 24, 2011 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — The Twins had pitched around Prince Fielder all night. And when they finally gave him a pitch to hit in the seventh inning, he didn’t miss it.

Fielder struck out to lead off the second, then walked on six pitches in the fourth before being intentionally walked in the fifth. Lefty Jose Mijares fell behind, 3-0, on Fielder in the seventh, and when he put a 3-2 fastball over the plate, Fielder ripped a double to right, giving the Brewers a 4-3 victory over the Twins.

“Ended up making a bad pitch to Fielder and he got us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We tried to not let the guy beat us, and he ended up beating us.”

Mijares threw six fastballs to Fielder, the first three of which missed the zone. After two called strikes, Twins catcher Joe Mauer set up away for another fastball, but Mijares left it over the plate for Fielder.

Gardenhire questioned the decision to have his lefty reliever throw six straight fastballs to a left-handed slugger like Fielder.

“I’m just disappointed because we threw six straight fastballs,” Gardenhire said. “Looking for a breaking ball, even 3-2, and we never threw it; we threw another fastball. And that’s disappointing to me because we have to execute better than that.

“He made a terrible pitch. We damn sure don’t want Prince to beat us, and he did. The guy’s a great hitter, that’s what he does. That’s what he does best.”

Mijares said that he had been throwing the slider in the bullpen warming up, and it had been working well. It was not so effective the last time he pitched, which may have contributed to Mauer’s pitch selection.

Still, Mijares was surprised that the All-Star catcher called for all fastballs.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Mauer,” Mijares said. “He never put down a sign for breaking ball. Never. It was fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball.”

Mauer said that it was easy to question the pitch selection in retrospect, but that he believed it was the best chance for Mijares to get Fielder out at the time.

He also noted that location was an issue when Mijares did throw the fastball.

“Called for a fastball there,” Mauer said. “I didn’t call for it down the middle.”

With a one-run lead, Gardenhire said that he did not want to put the go-ahead run at second base, even after Mijares fell behind 3-0.

Fielder said he was just looking for a good pitch to hit.

“I didn’t know what they were going to do, that’s why I just kind of took it [3-0], to see what was going on and, you know, I’m not surprised,” Fielder said. “They’re trying to get me out and that’s their job.”

Fielder’s late double ruined what could have been a fourth straight quality start for Twins right-hander Scott Baker.

Baker still delivered a solid start, but surrendered four runs on eight hits, with the last two runs coming on the double given up by Mijares. Baker struggled a bit with his command, walking four batters while also recording four strikeouts.

After leaving in position for a win, Baker took his fifth loss.

“In that situation, of course you want to pitch to the guy,” Baker said. “I don’t care who’s coming in behind you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best closer in baseball or the 12th or 13th pitcher. As a starting pitcher, you do not want to leave [with] guys on base.”

All four Brewers runs came on doubles, as Corey Hart and Ryan Braun also doubled home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

After opening the series in San Francisco with an eight-run first inning, the Twins scored just three runs over the final 26 innings against the Giants. Minnesota put up three in the sixth on Friday night with one swing by Danny Valencia.

Following a Michael Cuddyer one-out walk and a Delmon Young single, Valencia put the first pitch he saw from lefty Randy Wolf into the seats, his eighth home run of the season. Valencia also increased his team-leading RBI total to 36.

Wolf had given up just three hits and two walks prior to the sixth inning, and finished with three runs allowed over seven innings for his sixth win of the season.

“A disappointing loss for our ballclub,” Gardenhire said. “That’s tough to take right now. Bake pitched his tail off for us, and did very, very well. We brought the left-handed matchup and it didn’t work out for us.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins beat 5/24

May 24, 2011 Comments off

Cuddyer sits on Tuesday; Young in lineup

MINNEAPOLIS — After leaving Monday’s game with tightness in his right hip, Michael Cuddyer said he felt better on Tuesday, though he still remained out of the Twins lineup.

Cuddyer injured the hip during his sixth-inning at-bat on Monday, saying he felt it grab after a foul ball. He went through all his usual pregame activities before Tuesday’s game against the Mariners and hopes to return soon.

“He felt good about the activities we did inside; he’s out here now testing it out to see how it goes,” head trainer Rick McWane said Tuesday during batting practice. “He doesn’t anticipate that it’s going to be a major problem, and he could be available [Wednesday].”

Left fielder Delmon Young, who also left Monday’s game with an injury, was back in the lineup on Tuesday. Young had a shin contusion after fouling a ball off his leg in the sixth inning, but felt good enough to play Tuesday night.

Mijares, Perkins progressing; Slowey’s status unclear

MINNEAPOLIS — Head trainer Rick McWane gave an update on Tuesday on injured Twins relievers Jose Mijares, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey.

Mijares threw a light session off the mound on Tuesday, and will throw in the bullpen on Wednesday.

“If that goes well, he’ll go out on a rehab assignment somewhere this weekend,” McWane said.

McWane added that Perkins is still making good progress with his strained right oblique.

Slowey, whose MRI on his oblique and abdomen came back negative on Monday, will see a doctor on Wednesday morning to check for a possible hernia.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he was expecting to make a move with Slowey going somewhere after Tuesday’s game. Still unsure if Slowey had any sort of injury, Gardenhire indicated the decision would not come until after Slowey’s visit to the doctor.

“I’m still waiting to see what we have,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to see a hernia doctor, we’re going to see if there’s any issues there, and if that’s clear, then we’ll probably do something.”

Twins show fight, but drop fifth straight

May 12, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — As he saw Matt Tolbert’s double headed to the gap in right, the only thing on Twins outfielder Ben Revere’s mind was scoring from first base. With his head down, Revere took off, quickly rounding second and then third.

With the relay coming in, Revere slid between the legs of catcher Alex Avila, as the throw from Tigers second baseman Scott Sizemore went wide. Revere was safe, tying the game, but he paid a price for his efforts, taking a hard hit to the chin from Avila’s knee.

“I was running top speed trying to tie this game, and luckily I was able to tie the game at that point,” Revere said. “I really did not know. Some guys said I flipped the catcher over, but I got hit in the chin a little bit. It looked like I got more of the collision than he did, but I did anything I could to sacrifice my body to score that run.”

That hustle and determination from Revere, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 38,938 at Target Field, was a little like the way Wednesday’s game went for the Twins. Every time they worked hard to come back from a deficit, they were knocked back down by the Tigers, who came away with the 9-7 victory for the two-game series sweep.

“Kind of a wild one out there today,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Opportunities lost and we also picked up some big hits and battled our tails off to get back in it. But we didn’t make enough pitches.”

After coming from behind three times to tie the game or take the lead on Wednesday, the Twins were all out of comebacks in the ninth inning.

Entering the inning tied at seven runs apiece, closer Matt Capps surrendered a pair of runs in the final frame, giving the game back to the Tigers yet again.

It was a forgettable outing for Capps, who served up a two-run blast in the eighth to Jhonny Peralta, but still had a chance to pick up the win after the Twins tied it in the bottom half of the inning on Tolbert’s RBI double.

“It was a slider that I left up,” Capps said. “I just left it up over the plate and he hit it.”

According to Peralta, there was a bit of luck involved, too.

“I’m not looking for that pitch,” Peralta said. “I’m looking for a sinker and he threw me a slider right there. I don’t know how I made good contact, but it’s working.”

Peralta’s home run came just after the Twins appeared to have made the comeback needed for a thrilling victory.

Following a one-out RBI double in the seventh that cut the lead to two runs, designated hitter Jason Kubel crushed a 1-1 sinker from Tigers reliever Daniel Schlereth 460 feet into the right field seats for a three-run blast. In their 35th game, it was the Twins’ first three-run home run of the year.

Kubel’s home run was his team-leading fourth of the season, and his four RBIs in the game also put him in the team lead with 20. He added a single and a walk on a 2-for-4 day as the Twins broke out the bats for a couple late rallies that were all for naught.

“It definitely shifted the momentum on our side,” Kubel said of the home run. “But they came right back and put us back down. But we fought back, and then it got away from us again.”

With a thin bullpen, the Twins were hoping for a quality start from right-hander Scott Baker. Instead, Baker delivered a shaky, walk-filled 4 1/3 innings that put his team in a 5-2 hole through five innings.

Baker had been brilliant in his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA while averaging seven innings per game. Over that span, Baker racked up 25 strikeouts against only four walks.

He continued to add to his strikeout total on Wednesday, recording six, but walks became a problem again for Baker, just as they have been for the rest of the Twins pitching staff early this season. Baker issued five bases on balls, marking a career high for the right-hander.

“Just a couple mechanical issues where at times mechanically you’re not where you need to be,” Baker said. “That translates to your hand not being where it needs to be which translates to the ball not going where you want it to go.

“Obviously we’re not robots, we’re human beings. So sometimes it’s harder to make that adjustment than others. Today, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make that adjustment.”

Baker’s walks were not the only ones that hurt the Twins on the day.

Lefty reliever Jose Mijares walked Brennan Boesch with one out in the eighth, which set up Peralta’s two-run, pinch-hit blast off Capps one batter later. With his team issuing eight walks on the day, Gardenhire was not at all pleased.

“You walk people there at the end of the ballgame, you don’t want to put anybody on base,” Gardenhire said. “That’s not being too fine, that’s just not throwing it over. You’ve got to have courage, too. Courage is throwing the ball over the plate, making them swing the bat and hopefully we’ll catch it. Sometimes you back away and you shy away and that’s not good enough.”

Gardenhire also was unhappy with the missed opportunities in the game offensively. In particular, he could not understand how center fielder Denard Span was unable to score from second base on Luke Hughes’ double in the seventh.

As Gardenhire saw it, Span should have been at least halfway to third on the play, and as the team’s fastest runner, should have scored easily.

Span eventually scored on Kubel’s home run, but it was a mistake that could have cost the Twins had it not been for their designated hitter’s three-run blast. As much as injuries, illnesses and offensive struggles have been an issue for the Twins early this season, fundamental lapses have found their way into the mix as well.

That, Gardenhire says, is something that needs to be fixed for them to start winning games.

“The fundamental stuff and the little stuff we have done so well, these guys have been part of that,” he said. “There are not any guys out there on the field who have not been part of that through Spring Training and part of the season.

“So you can’t tell me you don’t know. You can’t tell me that. It’s just not getting it done.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins walk off on Valencia’s single in 10th

April 13, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Off the bat, there was no doubt that it was gone. Jason Kubel had crushed a 3-1 pitch deep into the seats in right field for the Twins walk-off victory.

“I thought Kubel’s was going to be in the upper deck,” said Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, who eventually beat the Royals, 4-3, with a walk-off single in the 10th inning on Tuesday. “Honestly, he crushed it.”

But this is Target Field, and the wind was blowing in. So a sure upper-deck home run turned into a long fly out to the warning track. That is, until Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur dropped it. Then it was a race to second and third base to avoid a forceout.

Baseball can be crazy like that sometimes.

“I thought it was going to be a home run off the bat, so I get halfway out there and I see Francoeur’s about to catch it, and he does catch it, so then we run back to the bag,” said right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who was on first with Kubel at the plate.

“Then he drops it, so then you’ve got to go, and it was just a crazy play. Fortunately, I was able to beat the throw by a half a step.”

The question is, what part of the play is craziest?

Is it that Kubel hit the ball hard enough to reach the upper deck and ended up with a single due to the wind and size of the ballpark, or is that Francoeur caught what should have been a home run, only to drop it and complicate things even further?

“I caught it. It was in my glove,” Francoeur said. “I didn’t think I had a chance and I started running it down and kept going. I caught it and it was in my glove and then I hit the wall and it just kind of popped out. I just couldn’t hang on. That was the frustrating part.”

Once everything had been sorted out with that play, the game was still tied, and Valencia was at the plate. Behind 1-2 in the count, the third baseman drove a fastball away to the opposite field, driving in the run for the victory.

Valencia nearly cost the Twins the game an inning earlier after not being aggressive enough on the basepaths. On first after drawing a walk, Valencia advanced only one base on Jim Thome’s pinch-hit single with one out.

One batter later, Denard Span flew out deep to center field, and had Valencia advanced to third, he could have scored on a sacrifice fly for the win.

“He’s got to be on third base,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “There’s no doubt. He’s not the kind of guy I’ve got to start pinch-running for, he’s got to run for himself.

“He has to be aggressive on the bases, and he needed to get to third base on that play, there’s no doubt. And he knows that, I told him.”

Of course, none of that would have mattered had it not been for the impressive performance of the Twins’ bullpen.

In the offseason, one of the Twins’ biggest question marks was whether the bullpen would be deep enough after several relievers left Minnesota through free agency. That answer, through 10 games, has been a resounding ‘yes.’

After an ugly start to the seventh inning had the Twins on the verge of letting the game get out of hand quickly, the bullpen came in and slammed the door shut long enough for the offense to pull out the win.

“Our bullpen did a great job tonight,” Valencia said. “An unbelievable job.”

Everything was going well early on for the Twins. They had a lead, they had scored runs early in the ballgame, and one of their best hitters, Cuddyer, finally broke out of his season-opening slump with a 4-for-4 night.

Then the seventh inning happened. Things went wrong in a hurry for Minnesota in the frame, but some impressive pitching from Jose Mijares and Matt Capps kept things from getting out of control.

“The bottom line is, I’ve got to get the guy at the plate out,” Capps said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

A seemingly harmless grounder to third turned into an infield single after Valencia’s throw went wide of first base. The sacrifice bunt that followed became a two-base error as left-hander Brian Duensing airmailed Justin Morneau at first base.

Then, a hard grounder up the middle, which glanced off the hand and leg of Duensing, tied the game. As he left, the starter was more worried about his poor throw to first than the pain from the hard grounder back to the mound.

“I was really upset with myself because of the airmail that I did to first base,” Duensing said. “But I put the team in a situation that could’ve cost us the ballgame, and for Mijares and Capps to come in and shut the door like they did, it does nothing but fire you up.”

With the game tied, runners on the corners and none out, Duensing was pulled in favor of Mijares, who promptly struck out left fielder Alex Gordon. That was all for Mijares, as Capps entered and got Billy Butler to pop out to short before striking out Francoeur looking.

Capps pitched 1 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit, Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth, and Dusty Hughes finished things off with a clean 10th for the win over his former club. Twins relievers retired the last 12 batters of the game.

“A hard-fought game,” Gardenhire said. “Our bullpen did a super job coming in and getting us out of it.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.