Report From The Fort: Measure What Matters
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports"E coli can just wreck your system," Twins starter Kyle Gibson told reporters after his first spring training outing.
Gibson was likely referring to his insides but his system for getting ready for the season was also disrupted some. He struggled to maintain weight and said his legs were a bit shaky yet his results in his first outing looked like mid-season form.
"Now it’s just about getting the endurance back and keep working on the leg strength and keep gaining the weight back."
Asked how he felt about the performance of his slider, Gibson demurred.
“I’m not really a guy who has a mutually exclusive that I can go out there and throw 80 times and get a swing and miss on 40,” he said. True, a 50% swinging strike rate would be ridiculous but in 2018, Gibson’s slider held a 27.3% swinging strike rate -- bested only by Patrick Corbin and Carlos Carrasco. In short it’s a wicked weapon.
Gibson said that his secondary pitches performance are contingent on being able to spot his fastball.
“When my fastball’s located well inside to a lefty it makes [my slider] better and when my fastball’s located well inside to a righty it makes my changeup better.”
The Twins announced today that Jose Berrios’ will be the opening day starter, which will make him the youngest Twins Opening Day starter since Brad Radke in 1997. Radke won 20 games that season -- or 29% of the team’s total wins that year.
Johan Santana was in camp today, observing minor league bullpens. According to one Twins official, Santana, who lives in the Fort Myers area, has offered his services to the organization and may spend more time with the prospects during the summer.
The souped-up bullpen session included some additional elements beyond just a catcher. The Twins had hitters standing in the box -- giving them the added benefit of tracking pitches -- and brought in umpires to call balls and strikes. They also have Rapsodo 2.0 devices capturing all of the velocity and spin.
Twins catching coordinator, Tanner Swanson, told me that the umpires serve a dual purpose for improving the catchers as well. With the human element umpiring, the organization can compare how well their backstops are at framing when cross-referenced against the Rapsodo data.
In essence, the Twins are optimizing even the most mundane practices.
Speaking of optimizing practices, the Twins believe they have trimmed a lot of fat off their daily workouts.
MLB Network did an excellent inside profile on how Derek Shelton and the Twins have streamlined and refocused their daily routines in camp, trying to be more efficient.
Gibson observed that one area that has been de-emphasized is time spent on defensive bunt coverage.
“Bunting has obviously become less and less prevalent in the game so we didn’t have to focus as much on bunt plays or stuff like that,” he said.
The Twins still practice it, to be sure, but since peaking at 2,878 attempts in 2012 over the last eight seasons, attempts were down to 1,810. It was determined that the player’s time would be better served working on other portions of the game.
Unlike Sunday afternoon where the added velocity of Martin Perez and Jose Berrios, reliever Addison Reed struggled to crack 90 in his second outing of the spring. Reed had elbow impingement in 2018 which may have brought his average velocity down to 90.3 after hitting 92.3 in 2017.
Baldelli wasn’t necessarily concerned over the results.
“Addison is also a veteran pitcher as well. So you definitely balance knowing that he, probably more than anyone else here, knows how to prepare for a major league season.”
That doesn’t mean that the staff won’t continue to help him make adjustments.
“Wes or Hef, regardless whether a guy is a veteran or not, we do breakdown all the outings and we spend time on them and locate a couple of things we talk about.”
***Nelson Cruz is reportedly scheduled to make his first spring training game appearance. The big man put on a power display during live BP on the backfield and Baldelli hinted that his presence in the lineup could come as early as Thursday of this week.
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