Wednesday Camp Notes: Tides Changing?
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA Today* It’s hard to say whether these coinciding events could be construed as “significant.” No one puts much stock into results on the minor-league fields, and Nolasco was facing a Rays lineup that was beyond watered down, since the team flew back from an exhibition in Cuba last night.
Still, the big curve ball from Nolasco that drew rave reviews during his last outing was on full display today. He got more than half of his seven strikeouts with the hook, and said he thought his slider was even better.
Of course, breaking balls have always been a strength for the 33-year-old. He claims the big difference-maker today was his fastball command.
“Felt it pretty decent that last time out in the minor league game and it kind of carried over,” Nolasco said. “I think everything just kind of goes off that.”
And as for his status in the rotation competition?
"It’s not my decision. I’ll leave it up to those guys ... They know how I feel. We’ll see what happens."
* Is there any scenario in which Paul Molitor would consider bringing Duffey, a former college closer, north as a reliever if Nolasco and Tommy Milone end up in the last two rotation spots?
"I haven't really thought about that as an option for the circumstances that we're looking at," the manager said.
In other words, probably not.
* Molitor confirmed after the game that Ervin Santana will be the team’s starter on Opening Day, with Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes following him in Baltimore. That lines up Gibson to pitch the home opener against the White Sox at Target Field on April 11th.
I wrote about Santana setting a tone for the rotation earlier this week.
* The Twins announced during the game that they had outrighted lefty Mike Strong from the 40-man roster, creating an opening that will likely be filled by non-roster invite Fernando Abad. The veteran Abad was always likely to win a bullpen spot, and it looks like he’s had a solid enough spring to lock it up.
* Danny Santana was in the lineup at second base today, after starting at shortstop on Tuesday and in center field on Monday. Molitor said earlier this week that he’s trying to get a gauge on Santana’s capacity to serve in a utility role.
“His positional experience is somewhat limited,” Molitor said. “I wouldn’t say we’re at that point where we’re convinced he can do all those things. It’s still something we’re trying to decide.”
The general manager likes what Santana brings to the table as a bench piece.
“He’s been around the diamond quite a bit this spring,” Terry Ryan said. “Of course he can really run. There’s a lot of value in that type of player.”
* The Twins cut six from camp this morning, trimming the total number of remaining players to 37. I wrote up a quick article about what the cuts – which included one reliever who was in the bullpen for all of 2015 – mean for the bullpen competition.
* Daniel Palka raised some eyebrows by hitting a pair of home runs when he traveled to Clearwater with the split-squad on Tuesday, including a mammoth blast that he pulled over the right field wall.
Today, while playing with the Triple-A group in the game Duffey started, Palka hit another bomb, this time an opposite-field shot.
“He has power, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said. “Go across there (to the minor-league side) and just watch him take batting practice.”
The pop this spring has been as advertised from Palka, who has hit 51 home runs over the last two years between two levels of A-ball. Acquired in exchange for Chris Herrmann in the offseason, the 24-year-old is looking like a nice find, infusing more power into a system that is suddenly rather flush with it.