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Tag:Luke Hughes
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Minnesota Twins



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.

Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak

Bullpen

Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan

Notable Bench Players

A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.

What's Good?

With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.

What's Not?

It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.

Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 11:11 am
Edited on: July 3, 2011 11:19 am
 

Mauer to make debut at 1B soon

Joe Mauer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Mauer's debut at first base is coming any day now, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Mauer's been taking ground balls and making throws from first base, but is at the point where he needs to play games there to really learn the position, he told the newspaper.

Mauer nearly played first in Saturday's loss to the Brewers to give Luke Hughes' sore knee a rest, but Hughes felt good enough to play, allowing Mauer to DH. He is expected to catch in Sunday's series finale against Milwaukee. The Twins start a series against the Rays on Monday afternoon and that could be the first time Mauer starts at first.

"He's going to get out there [at first base] pretty soon," Gardenhire said, according to the newspaper. "I think he's pretty much ready to go out there, any time we say let's go do it."

Mauer has improved his averaged from .186 to .241 after a seven-game hitting streak, including single in four at-bats on Saturday. Overall, he's hitting .241/.289/.289 and still looking for his first home run of the season.

Mauer went on the disabled list in mid-April after suffering from bilateral leg weakness before returning June 17. Mauer managed just three hits in his first seven games back, before starting his current hitting streak.

"The leg that I've had problems with is my back leg," Mauer said. "So that's kind of what I was having a tough time doing is staying back on my back leg, driving the ball. So it's getting better, and I'm feeling better at the plate."

The Twins are hoping he'll feel better more often if he's not behind the plate. 

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Posted on: June 12, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Liriano loses bid for second no-hitter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Francisco LirianoSearching for his second no-hitter of the season, Francisco Liriano lost a perfect game in the seventh inning and the no-hitter in the eighth. However, Liriano did pick up his fourth win of the season in a 6-1 victory over the Rangers

After watching a lengthy bottom of the seventh for the Twins, which saw Minnesota score five runs and Texas use three pitchers, Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the eighth. Yorvit Torrealba added an RBI single in the inning, breaking up Liriano's shutout bid. Alex Burnett pitched a perfect ninth for the Twins, giving Minnesota its ninth win in 11 games. Coupled with the losses by the Tigers and Indians, the Twins pulled to nine games out of first in the American League Central at 26-39.

Liriano was perfect through 6 1/3 when third baseman Luke Hughes committed an error on Elvis Andrus' bouncer down the third-base line with one out in the seventh. Hughes tried to backhand the ball and it bounced off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Andrus to advance to second.

Liriano walked six and struck out two White Sox on May 3 in his no-hitter. Liriano needed 123 pitches that night, but had used just 73 through seven on Sunday and finished with 97 pitches in eight innings.

Rangers starter Matt Harrison left the game in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Valencia lined one off his left arm for a hit to lead off the seventh. Harrison allowed just five hits and two runs in his six innings, walking three and striking out three. Yesterday, Rangers Matt Bush had to leave after he was hit by a Twins batter in the leg. The Twins scored five runs in the inning, keeping Liriano on the bench for roughly a half-hour.

Liriano was trying to join Roy Halladay (2010), Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938) as pitchers who have thrown two no-hitters in one season.

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 7:56 pm
 

No cast or surgery for Nishioka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tsuyoshi NishiokaThe Twins and Tsuyoshi Nishioka got good news on Friday when he was evaluated by the team doctor during Friday's game.

Dr. John Steubs said Nishioka's broken left fibula will not require surgery or a cast, although no timetable is set until his soreness and swelling subsides, MLB.com reports.

"It's still a fracture, but it's not a huge injury that will force me to miss the season or anything," Nishioka told reporters through translator Ryo Shinkawa. "I just want to get back as soon as possible."

Nishioka is on crutches and manager Ron Gardenhire said he expects his second baseman to be out four to six weeks.

The first-year Twin was injured when the Yankees Nick Swisher slid into him, trying to break up a double play. Swisher visited Nishioka and apologized, which Nishioka said was unnecessary. 

Minnesota called up  Luke Hughes to play second in Nishioka's absence. Huges led the twins with six home runs in the spring. Hughes started at second and hit eight, going 0 for 3, in the Twins' 2-1 victory over Oakland on Friday.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com