Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Scott Baker’

Twins notebook, 7/24

July 24, 2011 Comments off

Twins happy to see Blyleven honored

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — With the start time of Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers pushed back two hours, the Twins were looking forward to watching Bert Blyleven’s speech during his induction ceremony into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Blyleven, who had his No. 28 retired by the Twins eight days earlier at Target Field, has been in Cooperstown since Wednesday for various Hall of Fame activities. On Sunday, the day finally came for Blyleven — along with Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick — to be honored at the Hall of Fame.

“It should be really cool,” lefty reliever Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native, said prior to the ceremony. “I remember when [Kirby] Puckett went in and [Paul] Molitor went in. Those were guys that I watched go in, and I never really knew Kirby, but I’ve known Paul pretty well for a while.

“I know Bert as well as I know Paul, so it’s going to be cool to watch him give that speech and see him at the Hall of Fame there. I’m looking forward to watching it.”

The Twins showed Blyleven’s speech on the video board for fans attending Sunday’s game, while Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and the players planned to watch it on TV in the clubhouse.

“I wish that we could be there to enjoy it with him,” Michael Cuddyer said. “But it’s been a long time coming, and he deserves it as much as anybody does.”

Given Blyleven’s 16-year career as a Twins broadcaster and his knack for keeping things interesting on the air, his speech is expected to be a good one.

“I can’t wait to listen; it ought to be really entertaining, knowing all the stories that he has,” Gardenhire said Sunday morning. “There’s got to be something good in there. I’d like to listen to it in here; I’m interested in what he has to say. It’ll be fun stories, knowing Bert.”

Baker feeling fine after first start off DL

MINNEAPOLIS — While he had no issues throwing 82 pitches in five innings on Saturday night, the important thing for Twins right-hander Scott Baker was how he felt the next day.

Before Sunday’s series finale with the Tigers, Baker said he felt great.

“I kind of had an idea that I was going to feel OK, because once I was done, I just felt like I got a good workout,” Baker said. “As far as a hurting type of soreness, I don’t have anything like that. I haven’t played catch yet, but I feel like everything should be fine.”

In making his first start since July 5, Baker went in with a limit of 75-80 pitches. After finishing the fourth with 72 pitches, Baker went back out for the fifth and tossed 10 more before leaving the game, having allowed just three hits.

Baker said he expected to be able to increase his pitch count in his next outing.

“I’ll leave that up to them,” Baker said. “But I’d like at least get to the 100-pitch mark next time.”

Span plays back-to-back rehab games

MINNEAPOLIS — Center fielder Denard Span played seven innings for Triple-A Rochester in a rehab game on Sunday after also playing seven innings on Saturday.

Span went 0-for-4 on Sunday in the Red Wings’ 3-0 loss. Through six rehab games, after being on the shelf since early June with a concussion, Span has three hits in 20 at-bats with Rochester. All three hits were singles, and Span has also stolen a base.

“Everything seems to be going along just fine,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched Denard play on Saturday night. “He’s feeling good.”

While a return to the Twins seems likely to come soon for Span, it will not happen until he plays full games in center field on consecutive nights. Gardenhire has also talked recently about getting Span going at the plate before his return.

“He’s still playing seven innings,” Gardenhire said. “The talk is trying to get him to where [he’s] playing nine innings, probably four or five days in a row. Then we’ll see where we’re at. He’s getting close to being able to do that.”

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, bullpen solid as Twins top Tigers

July 23, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — After watching his teammates drop the first two games of the series, right-hander Scott Baker wanted to do all he could on Saturday to help the Twins get a win. The only thing standing in his way was a 75-80 pitch limit.

Baker squeezed a solid five innings out of his 82 pitches, and the Twins managed, with the help of four relievers, to secure a 4-1 victory over the Tigers at Target Field. With the win, the Twins pulled to within six games of the first-place Tigers.

The Twins will now have an opportunity with a win on Sunday to get back to where they were when the series began, sitting five games back in the American League Central.

“They’re obviously in front of us, and they’re one of the teams that we have to beat,” Baker said. “We’re headed in the right direction. We can compete with those guys, we know that.”

The Twins would have liked to have gotten more than five innings from Baker, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was happy to get the win.

“Honestly, we started getting a guy up in the fourth, at one point,” Gardenhire said. “We just didn’t want him to extend out too awful much. We’re still trying to feel our way through and see how he’s doing.”

After finishing the fourth inning with 72 pitches, Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson asked Baker how he was feeling.

Baker told them he could go another inning, and he got out of the fifth having faced just three batters.

“Today, given the situation, even with the pitch count, I didn’t want to give in to these guys,” Baker said. “They’re a good hitting lineup, and whether I threw three innings or five innings or six innings or whatever, I didn’t want to throw it over the plate and allow them to get something going.”

Thanks to Baker’s outing and a solid offensive performance, the Twins beat the Tigers for the first time since Sept. 1, 2010, snapping an 11-game losing streak against their AL Central rivals.

Baker blanked Detroit on three hits and a walk in his first start since July 5, a game which left with right elbow soreness. After giving up a pair of singles in the first, Baker cruised through the fifth, facing just one over the minimum with five strikeouts.

“[Baker] is very good at getting you out on high fastballs,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “He’s got late life to it, he’s sneaky on top and he gets you to chase the ball just out of the strike zone. We were probably a little over-aggressive. He pitched a very good game coming back.”

But with Baker only going five innings, it marked the fifth consecutive game in which the bullpen was needed for three innings or more.

Anthony Swarzak, Phil Dumatrait, Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan combined to finish out the last four innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. Nathan pitched the ninth for his seventh save, moving him within one save of tying Rick Aguilera for the Twins’ all-time saves record.

“Swarzy came in and did what he had to do; that’s a tough lineup over there with a lot of veteran hitters who shoot the ball all over the place,” Gardenhire said. “Duma came in and got the first-pitch double-play ball, which was huge in that inning, and got through it.

“You give the ball to Perk, and what can you say? He got in a little jam there, but goodness, he’s throwing the ball so well. Then Nathan finishes it off.”

First baseman Miguel Cabrera drove in the Tigers’ only run with a double in the sixth off Swarzak, scoring Brennan Boesch from second.

Through the first two games of the series, the Twins’ offense had been shut down by Tigers right-handers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but they finally put some hits together against Brad Penny.

Penny went seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Michael Cuddyer drove in Ben Revere with a single in the first, and Danny Valencia led off the second inning with his 12th home run, a shot into the second deck in left field. The Twins then added two more in the fourth, as Delmon Young drove in Jason Kubel and Valencia with a double to the gap in right.

“These are games where we can catch back up, so we really needed to come out and win today, so we have a chance tomorrow [to] come out and win and be five back,” Young said. “You don’t want to get back down to nine or anything and try to make it up in the second half. You still want to get to Sept. 1 to have a chance to make a run for 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.

Twins notebook, 7/19

July 19, 2011 Comments off

Gardy: No roster move until at least Thursday

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it would be until Thursday at the earliest before the club makes a roster move to get another position player back.

After bringing up an extra pitcher to help get through Monday’s doubleheader, the Twins will play through at least the next two games with a short bench offensively. Before their series opener with Detroit on Thursday, the Twins could call up an outfielder.

Which outfielder they call up will likely depend on if Jason Kubel is ready to return from the disabled list, where he has been since early June with a sprained left foot.

“I think Thursday would be the first day that [Rene] Tosoni would be eligible,” Gardenhire said. “If it looks like Kubes needs to stay a little longer, we could maybe change it out.”

If he were available now, Tosoni would likely have been recalled on Monday following the doubleheader. But after being optioned on July 10, he has to spend 10 days with Triple-A Rochester, making Tosoni eligible to return on Thursday.

Matt Tolbert, who was optioned to make room for the extra pitcher, will also not be eligible to return until after at least 10 days with the Red Wings.

While Kubel is the preferred option this week, Gardenhire said he would not rush either Kubel or Denard Span back from rehabbing in Rochester. Through two rehab games, Kubel is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts, and Span is 0-for-6 with a strikeout.

“I’d sure like to see [Kubel] swinging better than he is now,” Gardenhire said. “They don’t have return flights, I know that. So, we’ll do the best we can. We’ve got to get [Kubel and Span] swinging, though.”

Injured Twins at various stages of recovery

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Scott Baker’s bullpen session is scheduled for Wednesday, and the Twins will decide on the next step for him based on how it goes.

Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Baker “felt great” throwing long toss on Tuesday.

“After he throws his bullpen, we’ll make a decision on if he needs to go on a rehab,” McWane said.

Right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled for another rehab start on Wednesday in Rochester, with no pitch limit.

Outfielders Jason Kubel and Denard Span continued to rehab at Triple-A as well, with both scheduled to start on Tuesday night. Kubel was set to DH for nine innings, while Span was expected to play seven innings in center field.

Through two rehab games entering Tuesday, Kubel was hitting 1-for-8 with a double and four strikeouts, while Span was 0-for-6 with a strikeout.

Twins notebook, 7/18

July 18, 2011 Comments off

Morneau set to begin baseball activities

MINNEAPOLIS — Less than three weeks since having surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in his neck, Justin Morneau will begin baseball activities this week.Twins head trainer Rick McWane gave an update on Morneau’s progress Monday morning, and he said Morneau played catch Sunday without any issues.

“He’ll take some grounders,” McWane said. “Swinging a bat will be the last thing, but he’s ready to take ground balls, play catch and run around.”

Morneau had the surgery on June 29 and was expected to be out at least six weeks, a timeframe that would have Morneau back in action for the Twins no earlier than mid-August.

His current progress seems like it may be ahead of schedule, but it remains unclear whether it actually is.

“Maybe a little,” McWane said, “but it’s kind of early to say until he starts swinging.”

Twins decide to be cautious with Baker

MINNEAPOLIS — After Scott Baker felt stiffer than expected on Sunday, he and the Twins’ coaching and training staff decided it would be best not to push things by pitching on Monday.

If Baker had pitched the first game of the doubleheader against the Indians as scheduled, the situation could have gotten worse than it is already. Any issues with his elbow after that outing would have eliminated the Twins’ ability to backdate his trip to the disabled list.

“We all sat down and had a long conversation,” said Twins head trainer Rick McWane. “We all decided it was in his best interest not to push it and give it a couple extra days. We’d already invested 12 days or whatever it was in this, and we didn’t want to have him go out there and throw, because then you’re talking another 15 days.”

Baker’s current plan is to rest for a couple days before throwing another bullpen session. The Twins will reevaluate the right-hander at that point and decide on the next step.

McWane also gave updates on outfielders Denard Span and Jason Kubel, both of whom are rehabbing injuries with Triple-A Rochester.

Span and Kubel started Sunday’s game for the Red Wings, with Span going 0-for-3 batting leadoff and playing center field. Kubel was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while batting in the No. 3 spot as the designated hitter.

They’re both scheduled to play again Monday in Rochester.

“Span did fine last night. He’s going to play another five innings in the outfield today,” McWane said. “Kubel is going to play outfield today for nine innings. He had no problems yesterday.”

Twins notebook, 7/17

July 17, 2011 Comments off

Twins put Baker on DL, promote Diamond

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins made a number of roster moves after Sunday’s game, placing Scott Baker on the disabled list, selecting the contract of Scott Diamond, while optioning Matt Tolbert and recalling Chuck James.With Baker having second thoughts about his scheduled start on Monday afternoon, the Twins chose to put him on the 15-day DL, giving the right-hander a few more days to rest his strained right elbow.

“He was really unsure whether he was going to be able to go in this start,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He thought he could pitch, but he didn’t know the ramifications after he pitched, how that would come into play, if he’d be really sore and end up having to miss starts after it.”

In place of Baker, Anthony Swarzak will start the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Indians. He was originally scheduled to pitch the nightcap of the twin bill.

Diamond, a lefty who is 4-8 with a 4.70 ERA for Triple-A Rochester this season, will make his Major League debut in Game 2 of the doubleheader.

A 2010 Rule 5 Draft selection by the Twins, Diamond will take the 40-man roster spot once occupied by Eric Hacker.

“We’ll give [Diamond] a chance to kind of regroup, sit around here, see what it’s all about, get a feel for a few more things,” Gardenhire said. “We’re facing the Cleveland Indians and he’s being thrown into a fire here, so we’ll see how he does. He’s a nice-looking young pitcher.”

Baker was scheduled to make his first start since July 5, when he exited the game after just five innings due to a right elbow strain.

Instead, he’ll be on the DL until at least Friday with the move retroactive to July 7.

“He wanted to pitch, but it just wasn’t going to work out,” Gardenhire said. “He was very unsure of how it was going to turn out. You can’t have uncertainty out there.”

Span will stay in center field upon return

MINNEAPOLIS — When he returns from the disabled list, Denard Span will be the Twins center fielder.

When asked if he had given any thought about how the outfield would look when Span returns from the DL after being sidelined for six weeks with a concussion, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would not take away Span’s starting spot due to the injury.

“Denard’s our center fielder,” Gardenhire said.

“You’re talking about a personality here that feels he belongs in center field, too. You have to weigh a lot of things. He’s earned his right to play center field.”

With Span out, rookie Ben Revere has done an excellent job filling in, both at the plate and in the field.

Gardenhire indicated he would like to keep Revere in the lineup, but would not do so at Span’s expense.

“We’ll just let it play out, see what happens,” Gardenhire said. “If I have to make changes I would — but I’d talk to Denard about that [first] — to keep everybody’s bats in the lineup. We’ve already seen Revere can play right field, too.

“So, if I have to keep his bat in the lineup, which I would love to, it’s not going to be easy, but we’re just going to have to figure it out. Whatever makes us win, whatever makes us go. Right now Ben’s been making us go.”

Gardy, Nishioka let it ride for World Cup

MINNEAPOLIS — With their respective nations squaring off in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, manager Ron Gardenhire and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka made a friendly wager on the game.

There is no money riding on the game between the United States and Japan, but the loser of the bet will have to wear a T-shirt of the winner’s choice.

“It’s a very exciting day for both of us,” Gardenhire said. “Our women versus his women. Pretty neat.”

The Twins skipper said he already had a shirt in mind for Nishioka.

“I wish I could trash talk in Japanese right now, ’cause he’d hear it all,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to have to wear, ‘I love American women.’ I don’t know what he’s got for me.”

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 notebook, 7/15

July 15, 2011 Comments off

Span set to start rehab after concussion

MINNEAPOLIS — After being sidelined for six weeks by a concussion, Twins center fielder Denard Span is scheduled to begin a rehab stint Sunday with Triple-A Rochester.

Span will fly to Rochester Saturday, and be in the Red Wings lineup in center field for Sunday’s game.

“I feel like I have my game face on already,” Span said. “I’m ready to get back to work. I’ve been — I wouldn’t say [on] a vacation because it hasn’t been fun — out for six weeks and it’s been tough. I’m just excited to get back to playing baseball.”

Span said he expected to play five innings Sunday and Monday, and eventually progress to seven innings a game before finally getting to full games in center field.

Now that he has been cleared by Major League Baseball to begin a rehab stint, Span is expected to spend about two weeks in Rochester before returning to the Twins.

Two weeks with the Red Wings could have Span rejoining the Twins during their next road trip out west.

“It’s going to have to be a gradual process with Denard,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “We have to keep in contact with Major League Baseball as far as his progress, and they have to also give us their approval before we activate him.

“It’s still a process with him, but they gave him the OK to go ahead and start playing in games.”

Kubel to DH for Triple-A in rehab stint

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins outfielder Jason Kubel worked out by catching fly balls at Target Field on Friday and is scheduled to resume his rehab Sunday with Triple-A Rochester.

Kubel will join teammate Denard Span in flying out Saturday, and Kubel will be the Red Wings’ designated hitter Sunday.

“It’s been too long,” Kubel said. “I’m finally feeling good enough to do it.

“I know I can get through it now. So we’ll see how it feels at game speed.”

Kubel said his foot is better now than it was when he went down to Class-A Fort Myers to initially begin his rehab last month.

He initially hoped to play Saturday with the Red Wings, but due to the travel schedule, Kubel will not get there until just before game time. Kubel could play in the outfield for Rochester as soon as Monday, and he hopes to be back with the Twins before the end of their current 12-game, 11-day homestand.

“It depends on how he does,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “It’s just going to be a matter of how he feels and how the coaches feel he’s swinging the bat, and we’ll go from there. I think he would like to be back here, but we’re just going to have to wait and see how everything goes.”

Baker, Morneau, Slowey on track for return

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Scott Baker threw a bullpen session Friday with no issues, and is on track to start one of the Twins’ games in Monday’s doubleheader with the Indians.

Baker missed his last scheduled start Sunday before the All-Star break due to a right elbow strain, and was pushed back to Monday to give him more time. With his bullpen session going without any problems, Baker will make his first start in nearly two weeks on Monday.

First baseman Justin Morneau, who had neck surgery June 29 to relieve a pinched nerve, is “doing great” and will be reevaluated after the weekend, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said.

“We’re really happy with the progress he’s made and we’re going to keep that through the weekend,” McWane said. “Monday we’ll look and see where we are and maybe progress a bit.”

Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) was scheduled to pitch Friday night in another rehab start for Triple-A Rochester. He was expected to be limited to about 90 pitches.

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

De La Rosa shines, gets no support from bats

June 29, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — His third pitch of the game aside, Rubby De La Rosa was dominant on Wednesday against the Twins. But with no support from the offense, the Dodgers lost, 1-0, at Target Field.

Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere crushed a 1-1 fastball from De La Rosa into the gap in right, cruising into third base with a standup triple. Revere then scored the game’s only run on a soft grounder back to the pitcher.

De La Rosa tossed a career-high seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits. He struck out four and allowed two walks.

“I was trying to get ahead and have them swing at the first pitch,” De La Rosa said through an interpreter.

De La Rosa fell behind in the count a number of times Wednesday — including the first four batters he faced — but he frequently followed a first-pitch ball with a strike. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the biggest thing that De La Rosa did right was attacking the strike zone and limiting the number of walks.

Out of 95 pitches — not counting the intentional walk to Revere — De La Rosa threw 80 fastballs, mixing in just seven changeups and eight sliders.

The right-hander threw 69 strikes on the day, inducing eight swings and misses. In doing so, De La Rosa left quite an impression on the Twins.

“He made some of us look pretty bad at times,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “So that says a little bit about how much De La Rosa’s ball was moving.”

Only one Twins hitter — Revere — had more than one hit against De La Rosa. He also retired Minnesota in order the second time through the lineup.

“He’s more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but that’s kind of a compliment. He has great stuff, electric stuff,” said Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who grounded out three times against De La Rosa.

“He has a great fastball and could probably go out there and throw 95 percent fastballs and get guys out. The ball is moving all over the place, and once he figures out where it’s going on a consistent basis, he’ll be that much better.”

The Dodgers’ offense opened the game with three straight swinging strikeouts, and things did not get much better after that. Los Angeles managed just six hits and had more than one baserunner in an inning only once, with two singles in the second.

It was the eighth time this season the Dodgers were shut out, and their second 1-0 loss. The other came on May 17 against Josh Collmenter and the D-backs.

Entering Wednesday, the Dodgers had a National League-leading .281 team batting average. Even with that, the team has remained inconsistent, finishing with a 10-16 record in June.

“At times, it looks OK; at times, it doesn’t,” Mattingly said of the offense. “I think somebody told me before the game we were the best [hitting] team in baseball in June. I don’t know what that tells you, but [we’re] still not being able to put up enough runs to put wins together.”

Twins right-hander Scott Baker bounced back from a rough outing in Milwaukee over the weekend, striking out nine and walking one over 7 1/3 shutout innings. It was the third outing of seven or more innings by Baker in June.

In his last four trips to the hill, Baker is 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 30 strikeouts.

“I know he kind of likes to play with that fastball up in the zone,” Mattingly said. “That’s not necessarily a surprise, but it obviously looks good to hit. He’s able to pitch up there. He kind of changes planes, he’s got a good breaking ball it looks like, and for the most part, [he] throws strikes.”

All but one hit allowed by Baker was a single, with Matt Kemp’s sixth-inning double the only exception.

Kemp could have done more with the two-bagger, as he slowed around first, thinking he was out and even removing his helmet before replacing it and easing into second. He still advanced to third on his 22nd stolen base of the season, but James Loney could not drive him in.

After putting up 25 hits and 15 runs in the opening game of the series, the Dodgers managed just four runs and 13 hits in dropping the last two contests. With the loss Wednesday, they dropped to 10 games under .500 for the second time this season, but nonetheless remained positive after the game.

“We’re not frustrated,” Kemp said. “We have a lot of time left, we’re going to keep playing, keep battling, and we’re going to try our best to turn this thing around. We’ve got faith in ourselves.”

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