Five players hold the keys to the Minnesota Twins’ success, as long as they can recover from their array of debilitating injuries. That’s why Puckett’s Pond will continue to bring you updates on the progress all season long. Below is some information about how Denard Span, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer have been doing this Spring.
Span has been on a hitting tear this Spring. He went 1-3 in this afternoon’s game against the Orioles, and he has a .435 average in Grapefruit League play. We heard some rumblings about his neck being sore earlier this week, but he has returned from that injury. As far as Puckett’s Pond can tell, there is no new cause for concern about Span’s health.
I wish we could say the same for Baker. His elbow has been troubling him. You or I might be able to function just fine with a little elbow soreness, but unfortunately, baseball pitchers tend to need elbows in order to do their jobs properly. Baker lacked velocity in a B game last weekend, thanks to the gimpy elbow, and hitters took advantage. The Twins are well-advised to take it slow with Baker and let him heal, but the rumors that he might begin the season on the Disabled List are troubling. Remember, he had elbow issues in the spring of 2009 that kept him from starting the season with the team. When he did make his debut, he was very rusty, going 2-6 with a 6.32 ERA in April and May. The good news is, Baker rebounded with a 3.67 ERA the rest of the way and finished the season with a career high 15 wins and 200 innings pitched.
Liriano has been a strikeout machine so far, and that is exactly what we want to see from him. He has 12 Ks in eight Grapefruit innings compared to just six hits and one walk. Unfortunately, he had one bad inning against the Blue Jays on Tuesday where he allowed a couple of doubles and four runs. If we could give him a mulligan on that third inning, he would have a perfect 0.00 ERA.
Morneau is not hitting very well so far – heading into Friday evening, he has just three singles in 22 Grapefruit League at bats – but let’s not worry about that. Instead his continued health should be cause for optimism. There has not been any news about his concussion symptoms, his wrist, or his neck this month, and no news is very good news for Morneau. He is a brilliant hitter, and the extra base hits will come as long as he stays in the lineup.
Finally, Mauer was hitting .286 in 21 at bats heading into tonight’s game against Boston. His performance has been neither disappointing nor impressive, so there’s not much to report with Mauer. Again, that’s a good thing.