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Article: Report From The Fort: From Ks To Praise

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 09:14 PM

Old friend Francisco Liriano baffled some of the Twins more promising but less-experienced hitters early in yesterday's game. Whether it speaks to their learning curve, their talent, or pep talks from coaches, several contributed to the Twins 8-2 win later in the game.ByungHo Park
ByungHo Park struck out in his first at-bat versus Liriano, though he extended the at-bat seven pitches. It ended on a 93 mph fastball that was called a high-outside corner-catching strike. But the next time Liriano threw a fastball (this one 92 mph and considerably closer to the middle of the plate), Park crushed it to straightaway center field, a no-doubter.

Park’s spring has impressed his manager, and that goes beyond what he sees in games. “You watch how he takes [batting practice] and you see that he has a pretty good idea on how he likes to prepare,” said Molitor after the game. “But you don’t see the long homers, because he’s working on his swing. But when he catches one, it’s impressive.”

Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano also struck out in his first at-bat, and on only three pitches, the last of which was a questionable called strike. He also struck out quickly in his second at-bat versus Liriano on a called check swing, and looked visibly frustrated (and a little baffled) both times. But to start his third at-bat, lefty JP Howell threw Sano a second straight offspeed pitch and Sano channeled those frustrations into a blast over the trees behind the left field wall.

After the game, Molitor talked a little about how Sano refocused - and about his reactions to the first two at-bats. “He didn’t get the benefit of the call in the first inning; we all kinda agreed on that. The next one, well I talked to him. I said ‘The first one I’ll defend you in the regular season, but that last one you probably went.’ And he agreed. And I said ‘Just get ready for your next at-bat.’ That’s kind of how you have to go with him.”

I suspect everyone would feel a lot better about that home run (his second of the spring) if it didn’t come with 15 strikeouts (and just two walks) so far. But the blast was a pleasant reminder of the promise that the Twins and Sano are working towards.

Byron Buxton
Finally, Byron Buxton also struck out the two times he faced Liriano. His at-bats lasted longer and were more competitive, though Molitor noted after the game that Buxton chased some pitches. However, in the fifth inning Buxton made a CGI-like defensive play; the kind of play that feels like it requires special effects. Human beings are not supposed to travel at the speed that Buxton achieved sprinting into the left field gap. They are also supposed to have enough common sense not to dive at that speed, back-handing a catch as they slam into the warning track.

And while I mean that sentence as praise, it could also be read as the start of a very scary situation, which it was when Buxton didn’t get up immediately. After catching his wind, he did get up, gave a thumbs up to the dugout before Molitor and the Twins trainer got halfway to him, and stayed in the game and made another catch in center field. But the play was impressive enough and scary enough that when the inning ended and he came back to the dugout, he got a standing ovation from visiting Twins fans and a handshake from Paul Molitor, who also took the opportunity to check on his health.

The Infield
If there was any doubt as to the roles in the Twins infield on Opening Day, it has long since dissolved. Since March 10th, the infield of Brian Dozier (2B), Jorge Polanco (SS) and Miguel Sano (3B) have started as a unit six times. In the other four games, none has played without the others.

They are being treated as one defensive team by Molitor and he confirmed today why. “I think the intention is to try to get guys that most likely have a chance to be playing together to play as a unit. ….The people that are making plays together in combinations; you try to get those guys as comfortable as you can with each other.”

The Rotation
The Twins have already announced that Ervin Santana will be the Opening Day starter, but beyond that, the order of the rotation remains pure speculation. Based on the dates players have pitched so far, it appears Kyle Gibson would follow Santana, and Phil Hughes would complete the Twins homestand on the 6th. Hector Santiago would presumably pitch the opening game on the road on the 7th.
But I should repeat: I’m speculating. I asked Phil Hughes if he had any idea where he might slot in once the season starts and it's pretty clearly hasn’t looked that far ahead. In fact, it might be impossible to tell yet, with three of the Twins starting pitchers still not back from their WBC stints. “With Ervin being gone and Santiago, we’re just trying to piece together who is pitching in spring training,” replied Hughes.

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#2 Han Joelo

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 11:07 PM

Nice.  Thanks for the eyewitness report.  More please.

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#3 nytwinsfan

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 04:59 AM

Here's the video of the Buxton catch:  http://m.mlb.com/vid...?game_pk=510005

 

Yeah, that was amazing, but scary. I don't know if I can handle the anxiety of these types of catches for a full season.

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#4 Riverbrian

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:52 AM

Here's the video of the Buxton catch:  http://m.mlb.com/vid...?game_pk=510005
 
Yeah, that was amazing, but scary. I don't know if I can handle the anxiety of these types of catches for a full season.


This team needs a go get everything type defender. I'll be surprisingly comfortable holding my breath each time.
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#5 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 06:35 AM

The strikeouts from Sano are unsettling.
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#6 USAFChief

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:24 AM

 

This team needs a go get everything type defender. I'll be surprisingly comfortable holding my breath each time.

IMO there isn't anything very scary about a dive like that.  That's a fairly routine dive, parallel to the ground, that happens all the time, and really shouldn't be a big injury risk for a healthy 20-something year old.  

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I am not the paranoid you're looking for.


#7 hybridbear

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:31 AM

Buxton's catch was scary! I was at the game & we were all worried about his health after that dive.

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#8 Riverbrian

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:47 AM

IMO there isn't anything very scary about a dive like that. That's a fairly routine dive, parallel to the ground, that happens all the time, and really shouldn't be a big injury risk for a healthy 20-something year old.


I used to make catches like that playing local softball well into my 30's. The only injury I suffered was the loss of my ability to realize it was only softball.
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#9 mikelink45

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:47 AM

Maybe someone should talk to Sano about the sluggers market that we saw in this FA season.  Teams are getting past the nonsense that K's don't matter.  I am concerned with him more than with Buxton because he had early success and did not think he had to apply himself, while Buxton struggled and had to work through his difficulties which could only make him a better player long term.  

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#10 Vanimal46

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:50 AM

Were we all this nervous when Torii was diving all over the place on the concrete carpet surface at the Metrodome? 

Buxton will be fine. Continue making highlight reel catches, Byron! 

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#11 Mike Sixel

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:55 AM

 

Maybe someone should talk to Sano about the sluggers market that we saw in this FA season.  Teams are getting past the nonsense that K's don't matter.  I am concerned with him more than with Buxton because he had early success and did not think he had to apply himself, while Buxton struggled and had to work through his difficulties which could only make him a better player long term.  

 

I think you read the market wrong....they are getting past the idea that defense doesn't matter, not Ks. If Sano can hit and play 3rd, he'll make plenty of money. If he can hit and play 1st, he'll make plenty of money. If he can only hit HRs, and not play D, and have a low OBP, well, he'll stay make 7-8MM per year (in today's dollars).

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I don't know, it is a site to discuss sports, not airline safety.....maybe we should take it less seriously?


#12 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:08 AM

Here's the video of the Buxton catch: http://m.mlb.com/vid...?game_pk=510005

Yeah, that was amazing, but scary. I don't know if I can handle the anxiety of these types of catches for a full season.

This is Buxton's game, this is how he plays, this is why he's the defender he is. If he is anything less than that he's just like everyone else, or maybe less so if all he does out there is 'be careful.' Yeah, it's scary, but for me in a good way; yeah, he's an injury waiting to happen and I don't want to think about the Twins without him. But this is his game and how he plays it. Asking him to play a different game is as bad as asking hitters and pitchers to adjust to styles of play that make them less than they could be.
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#13 jrod23

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:27 AM

I'll echo.  Great report and keep them coming.  I love Buxton and that glove, but I visibly cringe every time I see a gapper because you know he zones in on that ball and blocks out EVERYTHING else like a lab after a tennis ball.  And much like a lab, if Buxton ever runs into anything he gets right back up and wants another.  Can you imagine how good of a shortstop he would've made?


#14 Blackjack

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:24 AM

 

And much like a lab, if Buxton ever runs into anything he gets right back up and wants another.?

 

My lab is like that, it chases so hard after the throwing dummy that she'll try to run thru the garden fence - and bounce off.Love her enthusiasm but last September she came back limping after trying to grab a bouncing dummy. Her leg wasn't broken but I had to not hunt her for 6 weeks, she got to sit in the kennel while I took the 9 month old pup out. I'm lucky I had a backup dog, but my productivity in the field suffered.

 

I hope the Twins find a good backup for Buxton because its only a matter of time before he'll be called upon.

 

 


#15 blindeke

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:06 AM

Let's not compare players to dogs.

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#16 by jiminy

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:55 AM

 

This is Buxton's game, this is how he plays, this is why he's the defender he is. If he is anything less than that he's just like everyone else, or maybe less so if all he does out there is 'be careful.' Yeah, it's scary, but for me in a good way; yeah, he's an injury waiting to happen and I don't want to think about the Twins without him. But this is his game and how he plays it. Asking him to play a different game is as bad as asking hitters and pitchers to adjust to styles of play that make them less than they could be.

 

I disagree.Getting injured unnecessarily during practice is just stupid, and the coaches should absolutely forbid it.He is way, way too valuable to this team's future to throw it all away by flinging yourself into a hard surface.During a close game or playoff game, sure, go for it.During spring training?No, no, no.

 

This isn't just hypothetical.He's lost over a year of playing time already.This recklessness has got to stop.If you were hiring a driver to transport $100 million dollars, would you tolerate him driving 80 mph through city streets, taking turns on two wheels?Of course not.Your primary goal would be to make sure the valuables get there without a crash.Well, Buxton is worth $100 million, and he treats his body like a disposable tissue.He has no right to do that with an asset the team and millions of fans have invested so much of their hopes in. He could andshould be a year and a half farther along than he is.But instead he does things like run all out straight into another player. 

 

I admire his work ethic, his dedication, his intensity, his commitment, everything about him.He's doing exactly what he should do, give his all every second he's on the field.This is not on him.It's on the coaches.They need to rein him in, and mean it. 

 

I just don't buy the argument that if he doesn't dive for every ball his whole game will go poof and he won't be Byron Buxton.I think99.9% of Byron Buxton is just fine.Especially compared tozero percent of Byron Buxton, which is what you get if you insist on trying for 100% even during practice.


#17 nytwinsfan

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:00 PM

 

IMO there isn't anything very scary about a dive like that.  That's a fairly routine dive, parallel to the ground, that happens all the time, and really shouldn't be a big injury risk for a healthy 20-something year old.  

 

I used to make catches like that playing local softball well into my 30's. The only injury I suffered was the loss of my ability to realize it was only softball.

 

Gonna disagree with you guys here. (1) he looked like he bounced pretty hard on his right shoulder even if he was initially parallel to the ground. (2) Buxton is moving much faster there than you were in softball (sorry, no offense) or even than the average outfielder.Force equals mass x acceleration, and Buxton (de)accelerates more than the average outfielder when he hits because of the speed he is going, and he weighs about 30 pounds more than someone like Billy Hamilton.

 

That being said, I am NOT advocating he take it easy or not dive for balls (within reason - gotta be careful at the wall). I'm just saying, there is reason to be anxious.

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#18 VikingGuy

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:20 PM

 

My lab is like that, it chases so hard after the throwing dummy that she'll try to run thru the garden fence - and bounce off.Love her enthusiasm but last September she came back limping after trying to grab a bouncing dummy. Her leg wasn't broken but I had to not hunt her for 6 weeks, she got to sit in the kennel while I took the 9 month old pup out. I'm lucky I had a backup dog, but my productivity in the field suffered.

 

I hope the Twins find a good backup for Buxton because its only a matter of time before he'll be called upon.

For better or worse, Twins seem content with OF depth at ML level.  Rosario can play CF.  Santana as well.  Those guys can shuffle around a little bit.  Now, if Buxton suffers a serious injury, that's a whole nuther deal.


#19 Shaitan

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 12:54 PM

 

Let's not compare players to dogs.

Instead let's call them studs and workhorses and...

 

Actually, I agree. But the norm seems to be that's it's okay to use non-human descriptors all the time.

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#20 Deduno Abides

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 02:37 PM

Nobody wants Buxton to turn into Pete Reiser. A little easier would be OK. Go look it up.
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