Report From The Fort: Twins Run Over Rays
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA TodayWith Trevor May likely out for the 2017 season, the Twins gave Rule 5 pick Justin Haley an opportunity to start for them on Monday afternoon against the Rays. He was going on two-days rest, so it was planned that he wouldn’t go more than two innings.
What he was able to do was work on all of his pitches. Haley said, “In two innings, I threw all four pitches several times. Got a good feel for all of them. Threw a couple good changeups. Got a strikeout. Threw a couple of good curveballs. Really wanted to work on the slider today, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I accomplished that.”
He saw mixed results. He flashed a fastball that sat between 90 and 92 mph. He has a solid changeup that comes in around 84. And then he drops a slow curveball in the mid-70s. It’s a pitch mix that can and has worked for big league starters many times in the past.
His manager noted, “He did OK. Wasn’t consistent with his command today. Obviously two-out, two-run homers are not a thing anyone gets too excited about,” he continued “I don’t think he was as crisp as some other outings today, but it was the first time he’d started too.”
Haley has been a starter throughout his full career, so getting an opportunity to start was nice. “I’ve done both (starting and relieving). I enjoy both. It was definitely nice to go through a full warm up. I’m definitely more used to that. But I am just getting used to warming up in a half-inning.”
He gave up one run in the first inning. Mallex Smith pushed a perfect bunt past a drawn-in Danny Santana at third base. Haley threw to first baseman Niko Goodrum who missed the throw, allowing Smith to advance to second base. Tim Beckham flew out to right field which was deep enough to advance Smith to third. He then scored when Jake Bauers hit a fly ball to Zack Granite in center.
Mallex Smith came up big in the bottom of the first inning as well. Joe Mauer crushed a pitch just to the left of center field. Smith went back to the wall, jumped and made the catch, likely robbing Mauer of a home run.
With two outs in the second inning, Haley gave up a first-pitch homer to outfielder Shane Peterson on a curveball. It was a blast to dead center fielder.
“I can form into whatever role they need me to. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well. I hope they appreciate that, as much as I’m putting into it, and looking to earn a spot.”
Haley went two innings and gave up the three runs (two earned) on three hits. He didn’t walk any, and he struck out one.
With Trevor May’s injury, Haley doesn’t want to overthink today’s start. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it and I’ll certainly give it my best. I think I’d be a good candidate, but until they ask me to do it, I can’t say what's going to come of it. Today was a reliever day, and I got chosen to start the reliever day.”
Molitor said, “Next time we’ll try to get him more extended.”
The Twins had the opportunity to face Rays right-hander Jose De Leon. I would guess that Twins Daily readers are familiar with the right-hander. He was the pitcher offered to the Twins from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier rumors that only died when De Leon was traded to the Rays for second baseman Logan Forsythe.
De Leon sat between 90-92 with his fastball, usually closer to 90. His changeup and his slider were both in the mid-80s. He came into the game having only recorded two outs this spring due to minor injury.
Paul Molitor said afterward, “Guys were talking about his changeup more than anything. They thought it was a hard pitch to pick up. He threw the ball fairly well.”
In the bottom of the second, he gave up a single to Robbie Grossman and then walked Jason Castro. Niko Goodrum came to the plate and on a 1-1 count, he crushed a long home run beyond the wall in right center field wall.
Goodrum was asked after the game if he got all of that pitch or something just a little bit less than all of it. His response, with a big grin, “I got all of it!” He continued, “He started me with a changeup that I was just out in front of a little. Then on 1-1, he tried to throw me a fastball.”
Before joining the Twins coaching staff and then becoming the manager, Paul Molitor was an instructor in the Twins minor league system. Of Goodrum, he noted, “It seems like he’s been here a long time. I remember him as a youngster coming in as a prospect, a switch-hitter guy who could play (several positions). His body developed, but he had some injuries and things along the way. He has re-emerged and found himself back on the map. I told him after the (second) inning he was +2, gave up one and drove in three. He hasn’t had a ton of playing time because of a little shoulder issue that’s plaguing him a bit, but he’s taken good at-bats when he gets the chance.”
He got the start at first base, a position he’d played just eight game at in his seven minor league seasons. He spent the second half of the game in left field. Before the game, I asked him how many gloves he has to bring to the park. He said he has five different gloves. I asked him if he’d ever need a catcher’s mitt. He chuckled and said clearly. “NO!”
JT Chargois came in for the third inning for the Twins. He looked strong. His fastball was sitting 95 and touching 96. He struck out the first two batters, both on sliders (at 87 and 88 mph). He gave up a broken bat double to Jake Bauers and then hit Steven Souza (both on 3-2 counts). He got a grounder to short to end the inning. It had the makings of a strong, efficient inning, but getting the third out took some work. Efficiency has been a problem for him in his short major league career.
As Molitor said after the game, “When he is a strike thrower and aggressive, the results usually are pretty good. And other times, you look up and he needs 28-pitches to get through an inning.”
Alex Wimmers worked two innings. He gave up a run on a couple of doubles in his second inning of work. He did strike out three batters. Ryan O’Rourke pitched a scoreless inning despite an infield single and a tailor-made double play ball turned error. Buddy Boshers pitched the eighth inning. He worked a 1-2-3 inning with a lot of help from his friends. The final out came on a diving play by Leonardo Reginnato. He got up and threw to first where Matt Hague had to stretch and scoop to finish the play and the inning.
Asked if any of the lefties competing for a spot have separated themselves at this stage of camp, Molitor said, “I think you go Breslow, O’Rourke and Boshers. They’ve kind of had good outing-bad outing. They’ve all battled. I don’t think it’s separating itself enough to where I’m leaning one way or another.”
Randy Rosario pitched the ninth inning. He showed a fastball at 93-96 and a slider at 87. After getting a groundout and a fly out, he gave up a slap-double to left field, he got Justin Williams to strike out.
Following the game, the Twins sent two more players down to minor league camp. Read more about those players, including comments from Paul Molitor, in this article.
SANTANA TO JOIN DOMINICAN WBC TEAM
Ervin Santana will be joining the Dominican Republic team in the WBC tournament. According to Molitor, it was confirmed yesterday morning. Santana was at Hammond Stadium last night packing. He headed to Miami last night and chartered with the team to San Diego this morning.
Molitor said that his gut feel is that Santana was recruited a bit. “Players on those teams probably talk a lot. Besides management people, GMs and managers, I think players reached out to him. That’s kind of my feeling. C’mon, man. Come have some fun with us.”
Santana is expected to pitch on Wednesday for the Dominican team.
As it relates to the Twins, Molitor noted, “He was going to throw five innings in a minor league game here tomorrow.”
“Part of the conversations, from what I understand, were that we wanted him to stay as close to his schedule as he could. For us, that means Tuesday or Wednesday. Once it gets past a couple of days, it starts making it tricky to do what we need to do before now and Opening Day.”
The Twins have an off day on Tuesday. Glen Perkins will throw another bullpen on Wednesday.
Molitor said, “His pitches aren’t really getting extended much. I think the next one’s going to be 20-25 (pitches), depending on how he feels. He’s still not facing hitters yet, and we’re getting to the end of March.”
TUESDAY OFF DAY
The Twins don't get many off days during spring training, but Tuesday is one of them. There will be no players or coaches at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday. I will be spending the day down on the minor league fields.
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and I'll try to get them answered for you.