Tag:Ron Gardenhire
Posted on: June 13, 2011 5:53 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Down and out Twins have won 9 of 11

By Evan Brunell

GardenhireThe Minnesota Twins are suddenly hot, winning nine of their last 11 games and trimming a 16 1/2 game deficit all the way down to nine.

Yeah, still a long way to go, but the Twins are adamant they are still in the hunt, and with eight players close to returning from injuries (Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Jim Thome), Minnesota does stand a fighting chance of pushing its 26-39 record over .500 and beyond, although it will be a hard road.

"All you want to do is come to the ballpark and feel like you have a chance, and we're coming to the ballpark with a lot of positive flow out there in the clubhouse,'' manager Ron Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "It's really not a lot of different people, but it's a positive atmosphere where people are saying, 'Hey, we can do this.'

"A couple of weeks ago it was, 'How are we going to screw this one up?' That's what's changed, the atmosphere on the bench."

The atmosphere isn't the only thing to change, as Twins starters have an ERA of 1.96 since June 2, and since June 1 the much-maligned bullpen has offered up a 0.98 ERA. With their pitching looking up and their stars on the way back, things are taking a turn for the better in Minnesota, where the team has 15 home games more than road games the rest of the way to look forward to.

Gardenhire is optimistic, but he wants to make sure his returning stars -- especially Morneau, Mauer and Thome -- fit into what the team has become, rather than cause the Twins to backslide.

"The guys who are coming back are very professional guys," Gardenhire said. "My only concern is, I don't want to lose that edge, of having guys run around and put pressure on the other team. That's my biggest concern. When we get our boppers back, I want to keep that edge, of putting pressure on them and not just waiting for three-run homers. I want everybody to be a part of it.

"I really like that. I like to be able to put things on, steal, and run. That's so much fun. That's what we talked about during the winter, and you're seeing it now.''

Gardenhire understandably may not want to move away from the success that has allowed the Twins to embark on this run, but the only way they can get any better is to get those sluggers into the lineup.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Mauer to skip Triple-A, may be back Thursday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tsuyoshi NishiokaJoe Mauer could be back as soon as Thursday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters on Sunday.

Mauer will catch games Sunday and Monday for Class A Fort Myers and possibly Tuesday. Then he'll bat against Joe Nathan on Wednesday and could be back in Minneapolis by Thursday.

Mauer will not play at Triple-A Rochester before being activated. Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka is playing for the Red Wings on Sunday.

Gardenhire had said he wanted Mauer to play against Triple-A before coming up, just so he could see better pitching and fastballs.

"He can count on one hand how many fastballs he's seen since he's been playing down there, and that's kind of one of those reasons you might want to send him to Triple-A," Gardenhire told reporters, including John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He might see some fastballs down there. There are some veteran guys who might know how to mix it up there. Those kids, they'll just be winging breaking balls all over the place."

Mauer's played in just nine games this season, going to the disabled list in April with what the team called "bilateral leg weakness." 

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 7:22 pm
 

Mauer won't be switching positions anytime soon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MauerWhen Joe Mauer returns to the Twins, he will be behind the plate, manager Ron Gardenhire said on Tuesday.

Asked if Mauer, who is currently DHing in extended spring training in Florida, would play any other position than catcher when he returns, Gardenhire said no.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

No, Joe’s a catcher. He’s coming back as a catcher. He signed an eight-year deal to catch in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins, so we’re trying to get him back as a catcher. If it doesn’t work out when he comes back, then we’re going to have to figure somewhere else, and that’s a lot harder than everybody makes it out to be. We have some corner people who are pretty good baseball players, and (we) try not to fire the really good players that we have.

He could play anywhere. Joe could probably move around pretty good. He played in the infield as a young player; we could probably make him the tallest shortstop since Cal Ripken. But right now he’s a catcher -- until Joe deems that he can’t do it anymore, or we deem that he’s not physically able to do that. But we believe he is, if he just gets healthy.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 10:58 am
 

Pepper: Aces meet in Florida



By Matt Snyder

WEST AT IT AGAIN: Another game, another ejection by Joe West's awful excuse for an umpiring crew. Monday night, Ron Gardenhire of the Twins was West's victim. MLB Network studio analyst Larry Bowa said MLB executive Joe Torre needs to find a way to get West under control. You know I agree, and here's a link to my rant from last week on West's crew.

UH ... REALLY? During Justin Verlander's no-hitter in Toronto, Blue Jays' outfielder Juan Rivera ran by the mound and told Verlander he was just "getting lucky." Verlander even confirmed this after the game. "He was probably just trying to get under my skin," said the righty. (sportsnet.ca ) I know sometimes things are said due to frustration, so maybe Rivera backed off the comments later. Only he didn't. Instead he stood behind the remark. Look, there are certainly times where a run-of-the-mill pitcher has everything break his way and throws a no-no, but Verlander now has done it twice and is one of the elite arms in the game. There's no other way to spin the situation than to say that Rivera was just jealous.

QUITE A LEAP: From running a small hot dog stand to the Wrigley Field public address announcer within a few days? Yep, that's what Andrew Belleson did. Pretty cool story. (Chicago Tribune )

OFFENSIVELY CHALLENGED: The Twins have had a putrid offense pretty much all season. Before Monday's game against the Red Sox, a reporter asked manager Ron Gardenhire about Francisco Liriano's next start, saying "you don't need another no-hitter." Gardenhire's reply? "We don't? Who are you kidding?" (Twins Now via Twitter)

MONEY MATTERS: While Chris Young's season -- and maybe even career -- hangs in the balance, the Mets still have money woes. Thus, it's worth looking at Young's contract. He has a base salary of $1.1 million with incentives that could have pushed the deal all the way up to $4.5 million. He obviously hasn't reached any of those yet, so it's looking increasingly likely the Mets will only owe the initial $1.1 million. (ESPN New York )

MAD MILTON: When Milton Bradley was clipped by the Mariners Monday, the reaction across the baseball-loving world was anywhere from jubilation to relief to mockery. The always-great Geoff Baker of Mariners Blog (Seattle Times ) offers up a very thoughtful piece on Bradley, in that now he should be trying to figure out what makes him happy and get himself straightened out. It's very fair. While pointing out that Bradley has never been accountable for his actions, Baker also points out that teams continuing to sign Bradley have been enabling his behavior instead of forcing him to solve his personal demons. Meanwhile, Jerry Brewer of the same outlet discusses that Bradley's career is probably over. I tend to agree. When he was productive, it wasn't surprising that teams would give him a shot. But, to put it succinctly, he sucks now. There's no reason for anyone to give him a shot.

TURNIN' BACK THE CLOCK: Hanley Ramirez has had an awful beginning to the 2011 season. Back in 2009, he hit .342 with 24 home runs and 106 RBI, finishing second in MVP voting. So Hanley went back into his storage closet and found his bats from 2009. He started using them Sunday and has since gone 3-9 with two runs scored. He also scorched a pair of balls Sunday that didn't work out (one was a foul ball that easily had home run distance, the other was a line drive double-play that was right at the shortstop). Hey, if he thinks that will help, it very well might. Baseball is such a mental game, any little adjustment could get things on track. (Fish Bytes )

THE ROAD BACK: Josh Hamilton has been out several weeks with an injured shoulder, but he's going to take batting practice Friday (Evan Grant via Twitter).

MASKED MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN: "We are constantly looking for ways to connect and engage with our great fan base," said Angels vice president of sales and marketing, Robert Alvarado. And Tuesday night in Anaheim, the Angels will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "largest gathering of people wearing costume masks." Specifically, everyone in attendance is going to get an Angels wrestling mask. Sorry, this is stupid. Can't the fans just go watch a baseball game? (MLB.com )

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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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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Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Nathan struggles, but earns save

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe NathanIt wasn't pretty, but it was good enough, as Twins closer Joe Nathan struggled, but still picked up his first save since Oct. 3, 2009 in the Twins' 4-3 victory at Toronto.

Nathan gave up a run on two hits and walked a pair in his inning, but got Adam Lind to ground out to first with bases loaded to end the game, earning his 248th career save.

"But it still feels like the first time when you get out there, for sure," Nathan told the Minneapolis Star-Tribine

When Nathan walked Jose Bautista, he had reached 30 pitches, more than manager Ron Gardenhire wanted him to throw.

"We're going to protect [Nathan]," Gardenhire said. "He was close to coming out of that game."

Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery last March, so the team is watching his workload. The team hopes to limit days Nathan pitches back-to-back, so he probably won't pitch on Monday in New York, with Matt Capps getting the call in a save situation.

"We've got two closers out there," Gardenhire said. "We trust both of them."

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 7:36 pm
 

Twins finally get Morneau back in lineup

By Matt Snyder

It had been since July 7 that Ron Gardenhire was able to put Justin Morneau's name into the middle of the Twins' lineup. So, even though it was only spring training, filling out the March 11 lineup card had to feel nice.

Morneau had taken part in some game action earlier this week, but it was only in so-called "B" games. Friday marked the first time he was in the lineup with his fellow big league bretheren. There was no Joe Mauer, but he got to join Delmon Young, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel among others.

Though he was hitless in two at-bats -- including one strikeout -- just playing in real game action was a huge step forward for Morneau in a long road back from a brutal concussion last July.

"When you're not out there playing, when you're not out there battling, you don't always feel like you're part of the team," Morneau said. "You feel like you're on the outside looking in." (via Big League Stew )

He played four innings in the field, in addition to the two plate appearances.

From here on out, assuming there are no setbacks, it's probably safe to assume Morneau will be in the Twins' opening day starting lineup. If he returns to form, that's bad news for opposing pitchers. He had a menacing 1.055 OPS through 81 games before going down last season.

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