Well, there go my dreams of an undefeated spring. The Twins got spanked by the Reds today in a 9-1 loss.
Two things that made me cringe:
1) Brad Radke's first inning woes don't seem to have vacated him in the offseason. He gave up a two-run homer to Reds' third baseman Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning and then gave up another run in the second. Not an impressive outing. I know, I know... "Brad is a professional, he's a veteran. It doesn't matter what he does in spring, he's just throwing the ball and tuning up." That may be, but I do not like seeing stuff like this. I am concerned about Radke and the potential of his ailing shoulder acting up this year. He needs to find a way to overcome his monumental inability to make it out of the first couple innings without giving up bunches of runs. With his amount of experience, and with what he's getting payed, it's unacceptable. He may be a great pitcher, but it really hurts the team to have to dig themselves out of a hole every time he starts.
2) J.D. Durbin got absolutely shelled, giving up five runs on six hits in just one inning. He did not record a strikeout. After posting a 2.52 ERA in Double-A in 2004, Durbin was looking like quite the hot prospect. That status has disappeared. "The Real Deal," as he calls himself, cost himself a shot at the bullpen last year with a terrible spring training, and he's got himself off to a pretty bad start once again this year. Durbin is still young (24) so it's early to give up hope on him completely, especially considering that he still owns a solid 4-year minor league cumulative ERA of 3.16. However, this is a big year for J.D. and the fact that he started with such a poor outing is not encouraging.
On another note, I read something promising in MLB.com Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier's notes yesterday. I've learned to take everything I read on the Twins' official site with a grain of salt (since it's basically like a big PR for the team), but at the bottom of this entry she notes that left-hander Glen Perkins might sneak into the competition for one of the final spots in the bullpen.
"We know it's early with the kid, but we like his arm," [Manager Ron] Gardenhire said. "He's been throwing the ball very well down here."
The competition for the left-handed spot has been shaved down to two veteran candidates, as 34-year-old Gabe White announced his retirement yesterday.
Perkins just turned 23, and is still quite inexperienced. After getting off to a great start in Ft. Myers last year, he was promoted to New Britain, where he struggled, posting a 4.90 ERA in 14 starts. However, he was dominant in the Arizona Fall League (2.53 ERA, 39 K in 32 IP), and he pitched very well in a two-inning stint in yesterday's exhibition. It is a long-shot to think that Perkins could really make the Twins' Major League roster out of spring training, but if he continues to pitch well through the rest of the exhibition schedule, it is not unfathomable. I can't see how he would be much worse of an option than Darrell May or Dennys Reyes.