With all the days I’ve spent churning out Position Analysis pieces for the entire Twins’ roster recently, I haven’t really had much opportunity to write about the happenings of spring training. Today I’ll get caught up with a few notes about spring performances and some thoughts about last night’s televised game.
* Nick Blackburn started against the Reds last night. He had a solid outing, but more importantly made it through four innings without experiencing any apparent issues relating to his knee. His pitches looked sharp and he commanded the strike zone well. There doesn't seem to be any reason for concern regarding Blackburn's status at the start of the season.
* With the exception of Scott Baker, the Twins’ rotation has looked great this spring, which is encouraging. Kevin Slowey had an outstanding performance on Tuesday, allowing just one run on two hits over five innings while striking out five, and he did it against a Marlins starting lineup that featured some solid regulars in Cameron Maybin, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida. Slowey now holds a 1.88 ERA and 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 1/3 innings. As for Baker, I’m not too concerned since he’s maintained a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio and isn’t known for great spring performances anyway, but eight homers allowed in 17 innings is pretty staggering.
* To those who are getting excited about Delmon Young’s strong numbers this spring (.314/.340/.549 with three homers and seven RBI), don’t forget that he batted .361 with a homer and seven RBI last spring before sputtering out of the gates in the regular season.
* Speaking of Young, his success should give us an interesting peek into how much weight Ron Gardenhire puts into spring training performances. During the offseason, Gardenhire said flat-out that Young was shaping up to the be the odd-man out on Opening Day, but with Denard Span struggling to the tune of a .140 average over 57 at-bats, I wonder if Gardenhire’s plans will shift.
* I don't put much stock into Carlos Gomez's increased walk rate this spring (most pitchers are still working on finding the zone so the "take everything" approach is bound to yield results), but I am a little intrigued by the power he's shown. Gomez is tied for the team lead in home runs with three and leads all Twins in slugging at .615. I'd love to see Gomez reach double digits in homers while swiping 40 or 50 bases this year.
* After all the flak I took for daring to suggest that Joe Crede was not the obvious, substantial upgrade over a Brendan Harris/Brian Buscher platoon that many seem to believe he is, I find it amusing that Crede is batting .184 here late in spring training while both Harris and Buscher are hitting well over .300 with equal power. I’m not saying it means much… but it is amusing.