Report From The Fort: Beantown Beatdown
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily* The events of the day were overshadowed by this morning’s news that right-hander Trevor May, who had positioned himself to claim Minnesota’s fifth starter job, suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
You can get the whole story in our report, which includes thoughts from May and general manager Thad Levine.
* The Twins rotation desperately needed some good vibes following that devastating blow. Kyle Gibson delivered them with five scoreless frames against the Red Sox, his finest outing this spring.
If Gibson is to rebound and put it together this year, he’ll need to do exactly the things he did on the mound today. The righty attacked the lower region of the strike zone relentlessly, allowing only one walk and working efficiently enough that he needed to throw a few extras on the side after wrapping up his five innings.
He notched four strikeouts, all swinging, with three coming on the slider.
“It was terrible in the second start, so I’ve been working on it quite a bit in the pen,” Gibson said of his featured put-away pitch. “It’s more getting the motion right and getting my hand to the right position, it’s not necessarily when I’m using it or what my body’s doing.”
* As you’ve probably heard, Gibson has been implementing some new training techniques in an effort stay strong and healthy throughout the summer. On Wednesday night we tweeted some footage of the hurler going through one of his new routines during a bullpen session:
He was turned on to this regimen over the offseason at the Florida Baseball Ranch, a center in nearby Plant City that specializes in altering mechanics to eliminate preventable arm injuries. Mike Berardino had a good piece last month in the Pioneer Press discussing the innovative and quirky throwing program.
“When I went to see this guy in Plant City, one thing I was kind of worried about was how he had me throwing and how we wanted me to throw, if it was going to still sink,” Gibson explained after today’s start. “He said what most guys find is as you get – not more extension, but they call it late launch – as you get the late launch your hand gets into that position to where it actually gets you a little bit later sink or a little bit more sink.”
That would certainly be welcome for Gibson. Last year, his performance sank in part because his pitches didn’t, at least not enough. His 48.8 percent grounder rate was a career-low following a 2015 campaign in which he was among the game’s Top 10.
* As I wrote on Thursday, Miguel Sano had been flailing in the early going down here. He broke out of his slump loudly today, driving a pitch from Boston lefty Henry Owens into the right-center gap and then racing around the bases for a two-run triple to open the scoring.
Yes, the big slugger legged out a triple, diving into third base after reminding us that he’s a bit quicker than he looks. Seth snapped a great shot of it, pictured above.
"Freight train running," Molitor said with a smirk. "He gets going."
* Jackie Bradley Jr., who was in center for the Red Sox today, serves as an example that Minnesota’s own young center fielder might hope to follow. A former high draft pick and heralded prospect, Bradley struggled mightily through his first two big-league seasons with a .196/.268/.280 slash line in 530 plate appearances with a 29 percent K-rate.
He turned the corner in Year 3, and in 2016 he was an All-Star, hitting .267/.349/.486 with a 26 homers to go along with exceptional defense while reining in the whiffs. In other words, exactly the kind of evolution the Twins would love to see from Buxton.
* On Friday night, Team USA kicked off its World Baseball Classic pool play with a dramatic 10th inning walk-off win over Colombia. Not present for the action, of course, was Brian Dozier, who expressed surprise and disappointment over not being invited following a career year.
“I thought it was a done deal,” he said.
It’s particularly striking to hear from a star player who’s more than wiling but was left off the WBC roster, on the same day where Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports publishes a story tying to the idea that U.S. players don’t care about the tournament.