Posts Tagged ‘Trevor Plouffe’

Plouffe has blast in return as Twins top KC

July 14, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — After spending six weeks at Triple-A Rochester, it only took one game for Trevor Plouffe to show why the Twins recalled him for the second half of the season.

With a runner on and two out in the bottom of the fifth, Plouffe crushed a 1-2 slider from Royals lefty Bruce Chen, just keeping it fair down the left-field line for a two-run go-ahead home run in the Twins’ 8-4 victory at Target Field.

Plouffe was swinging a hot bat in Triple-A before he was called up, and that carried over in his return to the big league club.

“That’s what he’s been doing down there, the guy made a mistake, he clicked on it and put it in the seats,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s why we brought him up here.”

Plouffe, playing his first game for the Twins since June 1, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. It was Plouffe’s fourth home run of the year for the Twins, after blasting 15 for the Red Wings.

Following a two-out walk by Michael Cuddyer, the Twins came through with back-to-back RBI doubles before Plouffe’s blast put them in front to stay.

Left fielder Delmon Young saw first-hand during his rehab stint what Plouffe was doing in Rochester before the callup, referring to it as a “Babe Ruth-like performance.”

Asked where his power stroke has come from this season, Plouffe said it’s just a better understanding of what he’s doing at the plate.

“I’m 25 now, so grown-man strength I think they call it,” Plouffe said with a laugh. “I think it’s just maturity and learning my swing.

“Staying behind the ball a little bit better, realizing when I can take chances on pitches and when I need to be in a defensive mode. In those offensive counts, I think that if you can take a good offensive swing at a good pitch, and the right pitch, that’s where the power comes in.”

Young also was back in the lineup on Thursday for the first time since suffering a right ankle sprain in Milwaukee on June 25. Looking even better at the plate than he did before the injury, Young went 3-for-4, doubling twice with an RBI and a run scored.

Since June 9, Young is hitting at a .393 clip with five doubles in 15 games.

“It always feel good to get three hits,” Young said. “But it’s good that we have a chance to be in a pennant race and we came out and took care of business in Game 1. We’ll try to come out here [Friday] and do the same thing.”

Plouffe and Young led the way as the Twins tallied nine hits off Chen, plating four runs.

The Twins also drew three walks off Chen, including two in the first, as they threatened to score in each of the first four innings, but were unable to convert until Chen’s final inning in the fifth.

“Bruce wasn’t sharp,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Nobody was very sharp tonight on the pitching side of it. Bruce was in and out of trouble, really, in every inning and in the fifth he got two quick outs, then the walk and then the roof caved in.”

Thanks in large part to the performances of Plouffe and Young, Twins lefty Francisco Liriano came away with a victory despite some early struggles of his own. Liriano gave up just one earned run on the night, but played a major role in the Royals’ two unearned runs in the first inning.

One pitch away from getting the third out, Liriano spiked a slider in the dirt, that got by catcher Joe Mauer, allowing a run to score. Mauer flipped the ball back in Liriano’s direction, but it got away, plating a second run on the throwing error.

Liriano settled in after the first, going seven innings and giving up three runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

“I think I was rushing a little bit in the first inning and trying to be too perfect,” Liriano said. “I was overthrowing, so I told myself, ‘Calm down, settle down, hit your spot.'”

After their big four-run fifth inning, the Twins added four more in the seventh for good measure. With the bases loaded and one out, Ben Revere walked in a run, Alexi Casilla was hit by a pitch to bring another home, and Mauer plated a pair with a single to the gap in right.

When Plouffe was last in the Majors, the Twins were at their lowest point of the season at 17-37 and 16 1/2 games out of first in the American League Central. The Twins have gone 25-11 since, getting back to six games under .500 for the first time since May 6 and just six games behind the division-leading Indians and Tigers.

“It’s awesome,” Plouffe said. “It was tough earlier in the year when we were out like that showing up to the park.

“When I was down, to see these guys turn it around like they did was really cool. That was also motivating, I wanted to be a part of it.”

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

Twins notebook, 7/14

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Span waiting on clearance to take next step

MINNEAPOLIS — Denard Span is ready to begin a rehab assignment soon. But he has to be cleared first by Major League Baseball.

Span, who suffered a concussion on June 3 in Kansas City, said on Thursday that he may have “jumped the gun” a little on Wednesday in saying he was cleared for a rehab assignment. But his doctor did tell him Wednesday he was ready.

“Honestly, I just got out of the doctor [Wednesday], and listening to the doctor, he said, ‘Let’s do a rehab assignment. I think you’re OK with a rehab assignment,'” Span said. “I probably should have waited until I checked with the trainers and everybody else.”

After joining the Twins in Chicago and participating in pre-game workouts, Span saw the doctor in Pittsburgh, who said Span should be OK to begin a rehab assignment.

Span and the Twins are now just waiting to hear back from the league office regarding his clearance, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said.

“It’s probably going to take him a couple days just to get back on the field and start taking batting practice and running around,” McWane said. “Hopefully, in that timeframe, we can get approval and then he’ll be ready to go about the same time we get approval. But I can’t give you a timeframe. I don’t know how long MLB’s going to take for this.”

Span was hesitant to say he felt 100 percent, but said he felt like he was ready.

After suffering the concussion on June 3, Span played three days later, but has not been back since going on the seven-day disabled list on June 9.

Now that he’s feeling better, all that time off has made Span anxious to get back on the field.

“I feel good enough to go out there and try to see if I can play,” Span said. “I want to go out there and play. If I didn’t feel like I was able to push myself, I wouldn’t go.”

Kubel gearing up for rehab stint at Triple-A

MINNEAPOLIS — If everything goes well over the next two days, Jason Kubel hopes to get to Rochester on Saturday for a week of rehab with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate.

“I’m going to shag some balls first, see how that feels,” Kubel said. “That’s kind of what got me last time.”

Even if he doesn’t get started by Saturday, Kubel said he expected to join the Red Wings sometime in the next week.

Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Kubel got out on the field Wednesday, ran around and “felt great, a lot better than last week.”

Kubel has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 2 with a sprained left foot, and a setback two weeks ago has extended the length of his rehab.

When the injury originally occurred, Kubel did not expect to even go on the DL.

Part of the problem, Kubel said, is that the original injury to the Lisfranc (upper) part of his left foot resulted in him overcompensating and aggravating the plantar fascia area on the bottom of his foot.

“It was both,” Kubel said of when he reinjured his foot. “But the days after that, about five or six days after that, the bottom was about as worse as it’s been in a while.”

Plouffe slated for utility role with Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — Last time he was with the Twins, defensive issues at shortstop played a part in Trevor Plouffe getting sent back to Triple-A Rochester.

Plouffe rejoined the big league club on Thursday, and now that he’s back, Plouffe is going to see time at a number of different positions, with shortstop no longer being his No. 1 option.

“He’s definitely going to play some first base up here, there’s no doubt. He’s going to mix it up,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Definitely there, third, outfield, he’s been playing them all. Short, second, just about anywhere you can run him out there and see what happens if you need him.”

In his most recent Minor League stint, Plouffe played several games in the outfield and, at Gardenhire’s request, was then moved to first base. Plouffe was originally in the lineup at first base Thursday, but with Jim Thome being a late scratch, he was moved to designated hitter.

Plouffe was hitting .313 with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs when the Twins recalled him.

“He’s got his confidence back, and that’s a big part of baseball,” Gardenhire said.

In a brief session with reporters — which was interrupted by Gardenhire to get Plouffe back to finish up his work at first base — Plouffe said the position changes have helped him focus.

“At first, I thought it might take away from it, but when I started moving around I started having a little bit of fun,” Plouffe said. “It’s kind of like I rediscovered baseball, if you will. It was exciting, I didn’t know where I was going to play.”

Morneau cleared to start non-baseball activities

MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Morneau has been cleared to begin non-baseball activities, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said before Thursday’s game against the Royals.

Morneau underwent neck surgery on June 29 to repair a pinched nerve, and is expected to be out until at least mid-August.

“He’s been working out, doing some cardio,” McWane said. “He can do pretty much what he wants to in the weight room and off the field. But he’s not going to throw and swing for about another week or so.”

McWane also gave updates on several other injured Twins.

Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start on Friday for Triple-A Rochester. McWane said he expected Slowey to be limited to about 90 pitches.

Scott Baker, who skipped his last start due to a right elbow strain, is scheduled for a bullpen session on Friday afternoon.

“His elbow feels a lot better,” McWane said. “We anticipate him making a start on Monday.”

Thome has been battling a sprained toe on his left foot, and was a late scratch on Thursday afternoon.

McWane said Thome felt better, but wanted to run around and test it out before returning to the lineup. Thome was available to pinch-hit against the Royals.

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

Defense hurts Twins in loss to Angels

May 30, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Some games this year, it’s been the Twins offense. In others, the pitching has been to blame. In their series finale with the Angels on Sunday, defense was the problem.

Only two errors went down in the box score, on throws by Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe in the third inning, but defensive miscues seemed to come far too often as the Twins lost to the Angels, 6-5, at Target Field.

Plouffe opened the third inning with a throw that got past Justin Morneau at first base, but it was ruled an infield single for Mark Trumbo. Two batters later, Valencia also threw one past Morneau, which went down as another single. Valencia was credited for the error when the runner advanced to third base.

Capping things off was Plouffe, who sailed a throw past first base with two outs, allowing the run to score from third for the Angels’ third run of the inning.

“I sailed ’em,” Plouffe said of the throws. “That’s all that is.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been on Plouffe about his defense, and Sunday’s performance was not exactly what he had in mind.

Earlier in the week, Plouffe misplayed a couple balls in the infield by not being aggressive and getting to them quickly enough, allowing the runners to beat his throws. On his poor throws Sunday, Plouffe also seemed to lack some aggression, appearing tentative as he tossed the ball over to first.

“It kind of looked like he didn’t let ’em fly, just kind of lobbed ’em over there,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what we’re talking about. Be aggressive.

“We worked really hard at it yesterday and he did a good job throwing the ball.”

Gardenhire talked before the game about how Plouffe had been unhappy the other day after having to answer questions from a number of reporters about his defensive struggles. It motivated Plouffe to work on his play at shortstop, leading him to put in extra work.

Whatever the problem is, the work Plouffe is putting in, and the focus he’s put on being aggressive have not translated into positive results on the field.

“I’ve got to look at some video, see what I’m doing, and make an adjustment,” Plouffe said. “That’s all I can do. I can’t go back in time and fix anything right now. Just move forward.”

One tough defensive inning behind him was enough to keep Carl Pavano in pursuit of his 100th career win for at least one more start. Pavano battled well against Angels starter Dan Haren, but the three-run third inning was the difference.

Making his sixth attempt at getting that elusive career mark, Pavano remained winless for the month of May. He went eight innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits. Pavano struck out three batters and did not allow a walk.

While the third inning was tough, Pavano was bothered most by the run he allowed in the fifth, which made it a two-run game when Jeff Mathis scored on an Erick Aybar single.

“The thing that stands out the most for me is allowing [Mathis] to get a walking lead and steal second,” Pavano said. “That run right there really makes it a tight ball game, it changes the order, how the order comes up. I gave him no credit at all and he ends up stealing that bag and scoring on a bloop to center.”

Haren did not appear to have his best stuff against the Twins, giving up three runs on 10 hits and exiting after six innings with just two strikeouts.

But he still picked up the win, as the Angels offense picked him up.

“I didn’t really have any out pitches,” Haren said. “I needed runs today. I didn’t have much.”

A three-hit game for Denard Span highlighted the Twins offensive output. Span scored after doubling in the first, drove in Plouffe with his seventh-inning double, singled home Matt Tolbert to spark a ninth-inning rally and later scored on Justin Morneau’s single to bring the Twins within a run.

The Twins’ ninth-inning rally came up short, as they plated a pair of runs on two singles and two walks. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer drove a ball deep to center field, but Peter Bourjos was right there to make the out to end the game.

While they came up short and dropped to 17-34 overall with a 6-15 home record, the Twins were encouraged by the late rally after a tough game.

“We kept fighting,” Cuddyer said. “We never gave up, and we haven’t given up yet. We’ve got to keep playing hard.”

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

Twins notebook, 5/27

May 28, 2011 Comments off

Casilla earns start at short with strong bat

MINNEAPOLIS — His offensive struggles got Alexi Casilla taken out of the role as the Twins’ everyday shortstop. After a couple strong games at the plate while playing second base, Casilla found himself back at shortstop Friday against the Angels.

It was Casilla’s first start at shortstop since May 1, after playing 20 games at short in April.

“Swinging the bat, he’s aggressive,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think he looks more comfortable in the infield, hopefully he’ll look OK tonight at shortstop. At second base he looks more comfortable, we’ll move him back over there because he’s swinging.”

Casilla was joined up the middle by Michael Cuddyer, who was back in the Twins lineup Friday after missing two games with a strained right hip.

Over his last three starts, Casilla has gone 5-for-9 with a double and two runs scored. He’s raised his average over that time from .184 to .215.

“If Alexi stays aggressive with the bat like he has and drives the ball like he has, that’s fun to watch,” Gardenhire said. “That’s kind of what we were hoping for.”

Plouffe sits after struggles on field

MINNEAPOLIS — With the Twins leading by three runs Monday, shortstop Trevor Plouffe made a pair of miscues that helped the Mariners cut the deficit and eventually come back and win.

Plouffe hasn’t seen the field since.

First, he double-pumped on a throw and allowed Jack Wilson to reach on an error, and later let an Ichiro Suzuki popup land in front of him, allowing a runner to score from third. In both instances, Plouffe was not aggressive enough to make the play.

“You have to be aggressive,” Plouffe said before Friday’s game against the Angels. “I think that I am that player, I think that I had an inning where I wasn’t aggressive and clearly it was taken as it being that’s how I play, and that’s really not how I play. I feel like I am aggressive, I can play every day, I know.”

Plouffe’s defense, along with the way Alexi Casilla has hit lately, and the return of Michael Cuddyer at second base, have left Plouffe on the bench. He had previously started six straight games at shortstop for the Twins and 13 total games since being called up May 6.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Plouffe have talked since his defensive miscues Monday night, and they’ve discussed the need for the shortstop to be aggressive while in the field. It’s also been made clear to Plouffe that when he is at short, he needs to be the leader of the infield defensively.

“He’s working on it,” Gardenhire said of Plouffe’s leadership. “First we’ve got to get him comfortable. But as I told him, ‘You need to run the infield. … Get out there and take charge.'”

Talking with reporters before Friday’s game, Gardenhire discussed the need to balance fielding the team he thinks had the best chance to win and getting Plouffe some time as well, while keeping him from getting discouraged about a couple mistakes.

“He’s in the Major Leagues, he’s got to be ready to handle whatever we throw at him,” Gardenhire said of Plouffe. “We’re trying to win ball games. We’re trying to get a feel for the people out there that can get it done. So now he comes off the bench, that’s a role too. Tonight he’s sitting on the bench, he may start at shortstop tomorrow.”

After flirting with history, Romero twirls gem

May 13, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — After being on the losing end of a no-hitter last time out, Ricky Romero took a run at a no-hitter of his own Friday. The southpaw came up short, but he dominated the Twins in his best outing of the season.

Romero held the Twins hitless through 5 2/3 frames, before giving up a pair of singles. He allowed just two additional hits in his 8 2/3 innings of work as the Blue Jays picked up a 2-0 win at Target Field.

“Ricky was outstanding tonight, there’s no doubt about it,” manager John Farrell said.

With a runner on in the ninth, Romero was one out away from his second career shutout. But after getting Delmon Young to hit the ball on the ground, it was just beyond the reach of second baseman Aaron Hill.

That forced Farrell to call in his closer.

“He handled Young in the first two at-bats, and I felt like he’s up two, and in the worst-case scenario, he’s not looking at a loss,” Farrell said. “But that was his last hitter he was going to face, regardless of what happened. After that, it was a matter of us finishing out the game and winning it.”

With the potential for a loss at that point even after such a dominant performance, would Romero have liked to stay in there to finish it out for his fifth career complete game?

“Absolutely,” Romero said. “I think that’s your goal any time you’re a starter — you want to finish what you started. I felt good, and obviously you understand why you’re coming out in that situation.”

Despite collecting 13 hits in the game, the Blue Jays managed just two runs, while leaving 14 runners on base and going just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Corey Patterson scored the first run for Toronto in the seventh, on a Juan Rivera single.

In the ninth, Jose Bautista smacked his 12th long ball of the season on a 3-2 fastball from Twins reliever Joe Nathan.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to handle, something to hit,” Bautista said. “He gave me a lot of them, I just kept fouling them off. That one, I just got ready a little bit earlier, and luckily he threw a fastball middle-in and I was able to connect well with it.”

With the win, Romero improved to 4-0 in five career starts against the Twins, including the Blue Jays’ 13-3 victory on Opening Day at Rogers Centre. Romero has allowed just eight earned runs on 33 hits in 38 innings of work against the Twins.

The dominant outing for Romero came after he had his shortest outing of the season against the Tigers last Saturday, when he went just 3 1/3 innings and allowed six runs as Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays.

“I prepared well all week to kind of get to this point,” Romero said. “After a little rough outing, I think it motivates you even more to come out and just have a good outing for the team and for a much-needed rest for the bullpen.”

Romero pitched that game on seven days’ rest after his start was bumped back due to an oblique injury, but he was on regular four days’ rest on Friday against Minnesota. The lefty faced the minimum through three innings, and he had allowed just two baserunners — both on walks — through 5 2/3 innings.

Center fielder Denard Span ripped a single through the infield to left for Minnesota’s first hit of the game in the sixth, and was followed by shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who beat out a weak grounder for an infield single. Romero got out of the inning with a grounder to short to keep the Twins off the board.

Romero struck out eight batters against just three walks.

He primarily used his fastball throughout the game, only mixing in offspeed pitches as necessary.

“It was unbelievable,” catcher J.P. Arencibia said of Romero’s performance. “What’s crazy is he threw probably 80-85 percent fastballs and he commanded both sides of the plate.

“He’s got so many different weapons. One day, maybe his changeup is on and everyone’s just swinging at his changeup, or his breaking ball. But today, he threw cutters and sinkers, and his ball was moving so much in the zone that it’s really all he needed to do.”

For the Blue Jays, the shutout was the first for the club since Sept. 23, 2010, against the Mariners.

The win was Toronto’s third straight, the first time this season the Blue Jays have won three in a row. Now they’re looking to improve their hitting with runners in scoring position.

“Yeah, we hope so,” Bautista said, “and not necessarily bang out that amount of hits like we did tonight and get all those baserunners. Just cash in and get the timely hits when runners are on base. That would be huge; I know our pitching staff would appreciate it if we could score more runs, so hopefully we can get the offense rolling.”

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