Twins 5, Tigers 1: Dobnak Dazzles, Gonzalez Debuts and More
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyThere is a competition for the Twins fifth starter job, and on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium, Randy Dobnak made another strong case for himself. The right-hander worked the first three innings and needed just 31 pitches. He gave up one hit - an infield single down the third base line. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out two batters.
In spring, it’s about getting guys their work. Tyler Clippard came in for the fourth inning, and Randy Dobnak went down to the bullpen.
“I threw 25 pitches in the bullpen.” Dobnak continued, “I don't know what the goal was, but I think it was like 55-60, plus all the warmups.”
Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Dobnak pitched great. “he threw the ball very well. I think that he was doing everything he wanted to do out there. He spun the ball well. He got some swings and misses. He found himself in a very good place. So good, in fact, that he found himself throwing some extra pitches in the bullpen. But we're going to take that.”
One inquisitive writer asked the manager after the game if it was almost tougher to evaluate Dobnak’s performance because it was so efficient.
Baldelli noted, “I think there are times in spring training that you do almost hope that your pitchers get stressed. You want them to go out there and throw more pitches than they planned on, more pitches per inning than they planned on. You want there to be some runners on base. You want them to go back up a few bases. These things are going to happen during the season. Just to prepare them, I think it does help. You can never complain about an outing like that. He threw the ball very well. ”
For Dobnak’s part, he’s not worrying about being too good this spring or too efficient.
He said, “Still trying to work on some pitches here and there, but i'm still competing for a spot.”
Dobnak is still working on things: “Today I was trying to get more depth on my slider. I've been working on that lately.” He added,“The changeup’s been working pretty well for me. Threw a few today that were pretty nice. I'm pleased with that. Next step will be the slider. Then I'll work on the sinker.”
He was also excited to find himself with a defense filled with regulars.
“Yeah. They're good. I get a lot of ground balls, so having the infield out there is nice to have. Marwin made a nice play in the first inning. Donaldson made a nice play. Polanco made a nice play. So, it's nice to have them out there.”
In the first inning, Marwin Gonzalez made a diving play. In the second inning, Jorge Polanco made a nice play on a slow roller in the hole to his right. The next batter hit a ball to Josh Donaldson’s left. Donaldson made a tough play look easy.
Dobnak finds himself in competition with veteran Jhoulys Chacin and fellow 2019 debuters Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe.
Camp is nearly half over, how do you think the fifth starting job is shaping up?
Marwin Gonzalez Debuts
There were no boos (at least none that were noticeable) when Marwin Gonzalez’s name was announced in the starting lineup or when he came to the plate for his two at-bats.
The versatile, everyday player made his first appearance this spring. He had knee surgery in October and did very little for about two months. He began with light workouts in December.
He has been working hard since to get ready for play. He got tested right away and succeeded with the diving play at second base. His bat sure looked ready to roll.
He said after his day was complete, “"Happy to be back on the field. I was kind of nervous about my knee, but it felt good."”
Gonzalez hit a two-run double down the right field line in his first at-bat. Gonzalez said, "I was aggressive, man. I swung at four out of four pitches in that first at-bat."
His second at-bat ended with a long home run to right-center field. “That was good. That wasn't the plan, but that was good.”
Baldelli said, “Marwin put some excellent swings on the ball. I think his blood got flowing right away in the game having to make that play right off the bat and coming off of surgery and an offseason of hard work and rehabbing himself, that definitely gives you a lot of confidence”
Miguel Sano made a couple of nice plays at first base on Tuesday afternoon. But we’re here for the Bombas, right? Sano hit a line drive single to left field in his first at-bat and showed some speed in scoring from first base easily on Gonzalez’s double. In his seventh-inning at bat against Tigers RHP prospect Kyle Funkhouse, Sano connected for a long home run to right-center.
Edwar Colina threw a scoreless ninth inning. He was hitting 99 with regularity and the scoreboard did show 100 mph on one pitch. He also showed a good, sharp slider at 85-87. The final batter hit a line drive back at him that hit him in the foot and bounced toward first base. He collected himself, ran to first and the final out was recorded.
Following the game, he said he was just fine.
Nick Gordon Update
The Twins have a complete day off on Wednesday. Baldelli said a couple of players will just play some catch, but the team will not be working out at all. Nick Gordon is expected to play when the Twins return to action on Thursday. Baldelli noted, “He's cleared. He's ready to go.”
Any questions, feel free to ask.
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