Play (Spring Training) Ball!


The Minnesota Twins open their 2011 spring training schedule tonight against the Boston Red Sox at 6:05 pm CST. I know it’s just a ST game and I know it really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of the 2011 season, but I’m excited anyway. Tonight’s game is just another sign that winter will mercifully soon be coming to an end.

Minnesota’s lineup will be a shell of what Ron Gardenhire figures to write down April 1st in Toronto. Missing will be lineup mainstays Justin Morneau (concussion), Joe Mauer (knee), Delmon Young (toe) and Michael Cuddyer (foot), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting things to watch for as the game unfolds.

CF – Denard Span
2B – Tsuyoshi Nishioka
RF – Jason Kubel
DH – Jim Thome
3B – Danny Valencia
1B – Chris Parmelee
LF – Jason Repko
SS – Alexi Casilla
C – Drew Butera

To oppose the Twins lineup, the Boston Red Sox will be sending RHPs Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, among others, to the mound. RHP Carl Pavano will make the start for the Twins.

Tonight the Nishi-era begins. Whether he plays 2B or SS long term is immaterial to me at this point. For now I just want to get a look at his swing and his in-game instincts. I’m also interested to see how he works around the bag with Casilla on defense. They have plenty of time to get used to each other in the next month or so, but if they are working well together right out of the gate, it will be a very positive sign.

Another story to follow is the development of Chris Parmelee. The 23-year lefty 1B reached Double-A for the first time last season and held his own hitting 0.275/.341/.389 in 463 PA. Now is the time to start keeping tabs on him in spring training games as he tries to carve out a niche in the Twins long term plans. Since Morneau has yet to be cleared to participate in games, Parmelee will have a chance to get more ABs and make a statement.