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Terry Ryan scheduled to see Alex Meyer pitch for the firs...

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Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:40 PM
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Article: Suddenly, Shortstops!

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:04 PM
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Article: Wake Me Up When September Ends: Starting Rotation

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Packed Friday Notebook From Ft. Myers

First, the most important news: Twins GM Terry Ryan was in the building today, the first time he's been present at Hammond all spring after being diagnosed with cancer in the offseason. Ryan was in good spirits during a 15-minute session with reporters, stating that he's "feeling pretty damn good right now."

Ryan, who is only in town for a day and a half, said that he's been going to radiation five days a week, and that he will continue to do so for the next five weeks.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] For at least the first part of April, he will only be attending Twins home games.

He expressed confidence that once he's past the radiation period he'll be ready to return in a full capacity.

"I'm optimistic that things are heading in the right direction, there's no doubt about that," Ryan said.

It was an extremely eventful day at the ballpark, so let's dive in to some notes:

* Ron Gardenhire was unhappy with what he considered premature reports that the team has settled on Kyle Gibson as the fifth starter, insisting that no final decision has been made.

Gardenhire and assistant general manager Rob Antony emphasized that Scott Diamond -- who will piggyback on Gibson's next start on Tuesday -- is still in the mix to round out the rotation. Antony did acknowledge that Samuel Deduno is likely headed for the bullpen.

* Gardy on Vance Worley, who cleared waivers Friday and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester:

"He had a decent angle going here. As I told him the other day when I saw him in the bullpen, every pitch looks the same. I can't tell the difference between his fastball, his slider and his curveball -- they're all hard. When you do that, guys are on that."

* The Twins fell to the Mets 9-1 on Friday, the second lopsided loss this week here at Hammond. On Tuesday it was 2013 Opening Day starter Worley who put the Twins in an early hole, and Friday it was 2014 Opening Day starter Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco's first inning was about as bad as could be. The right-hander yielded seven runs on six hits -- three doubles, a triple, a homer and a single -- while also hitting a batter and uncorking a wild pitch.

Despite the awful results, Nolasco was relatively upbeat following the outing.

"First inning was pretty terrible. I think I could've done better if I told them what was coming," he joked. "It's just spring training, whatever. You just bounce back. I thought I finished pretty decent the next two innings."

That he did. Nolasco didn't allow a run or a hit in the second and third, although he did issue a couple walks. By all accounts he looked solid in his first three outings, in which he allowed only four runs in 11 innings, so I'm inclined to not put a ton of stock into this one. Still, he'll probably want to get back on track in his final Grapefruit start next week to gain a little steam before he opens the season for the Twins on March 31st.

* Nolasco worked with catcher Josmil Pinto for the first time on Friday. He insisted that working with the young backstop had nothing to do with his struggles.

"He did fine," said Nolasco. "He has nothing to do with the way I throw the ball."

"He did a good job of trying to motivate me and get me back in there."

* Pinto had another nice game offensively. He went 1-for-3 but one of his outs was a laser beam hit directly at the first baseman. You like to see that from a right-handed hitter; Pinto continues to impress with his ability to go the other way.

"Pinto's doing just fine, doing everything we're asking," Ron Gardenhire said. "He works very hard. He's paying attention and studying the game pretty damn hard. He's a strong kid."

* One day after Aaron Hicks went 4-for-4 in Port Charlotte to raise his spring average to .375, Alex Presley started in center field and finished 0-for-3, dropping his average to .147. He did have a walk and a stolen base, but he's been unable to get his bat going.

We all know that decisions shouldn't be made solely on the basis of spring training stats, but Hicks is plainly the superior talent and he's backing it up.

* Michael Tonkin is the best relief prospect in the organization, and he was outstanding once again while handling the sixth and seventh innings. Flashing a fastball that registered at 94-95 MPH, Tonkin induced plenty of weak contact while holding the Mets off the board.

In 8 1/3 innings this spring, Tonkin has allowed only three hits and no runs. He deserves a spot in the Minnesota bullpen but I suspect that, if indeed Gibson is tabbed as fifth starter, the Twins will try and stick both Deduno and Diamond in the bullpen, leaving no room.

If Tonkin opens in Rochester, he'll almost surely be the first righty reliever called up when a need arises. And he might immediately become the best one on the club.

* It's going to be a zoo here at Hammond Stadium tomorrow, when Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees roll through.

Terry Ryan will be in attendance and said he's excited to see Tanaka pitch for the first time.

As has been the case all month, Twins Daily will have all the action covered.

Attached Image: hammond321.jpg


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