Notes After Three Spring Games

This afternoon the Minnesota finished up their 3rd game of the spring training season, all of which involved the Boston Red Sox. So far the Twins are 1-2 in Grapefruit League action but as you all know, the W-L records in these games are beyond irrelevant. The spring stats for individual players are also to be taken with a grain of salt, but there is some value in them none-the-less. The stats when coupled with storylines or specific events can be valuable, and a good spring can serve as a harbinger for success during the regular season.

After the first three games, here are some of the things I consider noteworthy:

  • Joe Nathan pitched in a game, his arm didn’t explode and he was smiling after the fact. He pitched a scoreless inning, faced 4 batters and was clean other than issuing a walk. Josh covered this wonderful bit of news already but I will caution everyone that how Nathan’s elbow reacts over the next few days is just as important as the fact he walked off the mound in one piece. That said, he’s been through this process before and I have complete confidence that he will be ready to go as the team’s closer on April 1st.
  • Like Nathan, Scott Baker saw his first action today. He was unable to get out of the 2nd inning before he reached his 40 pitch limit. The fact he was on the mound and able to pitch was certainly a good sign after his offseason arthroscopic surgery and subsequent setback earlier in camp. It was reported that he didn’t feel any pain in his elbow after the game which is wonderful news.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka is the real deal – defensively at least. Sunday he went 1-3 with an RBI and flashed the leather at 2B several times. He also showed off his hustle and speed right away in his first at bat. Today he went 0-3 but was again showing off his defensive skills at 2B. Whether he hits 0.240 or 0.300 this year, I have little doubt he is going to be a fan favorite.
  • Kyle Gibson gave up 2 hits and walked 1 in his first spring inning of work, but was able to work out of the jam and allowed only 1 run. It’s early and I’m sure he will be up and down in his outings, but it’s hard to not get excited about his potential contributions this season.
  • Luke Hughes is making a statement early and he’s got my attention. He went 2-3 with a HR and 3 RBI on Monday and followed that up by going 1-2 this afternoon. At the start of the month, I felt he was well behind Plouffe and Tolbert for a bench/utility role. I stand by that assessment, but it’s going to be hard to keep him off the Opening Day roster if he keeps this up.

So far the Twins haven’t had any games available on MLB.tv so I’ve only been able to catch parts of the radio broadcast, look at the box scores and read some of the post-game stuff. I can’t wait for my chance to actually sit and watch a game on my laptop. I also can’t wait for our yearly family trek northward to visit my parents in late April. It just so happens the Twins are at home.

Tags: Joe Nathan Kyle Gibson Luke Hughes Minnesota Twins Scott Baker Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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