Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:26 am
Looking to plug an organizational hole in center field, the Nationals have approached the Twins about a possible deal involving center fielder Denard Span, sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com Wednesday night.
The Twins want Nationals closer Drew Storen in return in a deal that could expand. The talks were first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.com.
Washington has been involved in multiple talks for a center fielder this week, including Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton and, before he was dealt to Toronto, St. Louis' Colby Rasmus. The Nationals currently are going with Roger Bernadina but really are not in love with any of their long-term candidates going forward.
Minnesota, according to one source, is not shopping Span but became interested when approached by the Nationals. The emergence of Ben Revere this season could make Span expendable.
Furthermore, the Twins, who Wednesday gained another game on Detroit with a win over Texas, now are six games back and continue to view the AL Central as a winnable division. They came into July intent on acquiring bullpen help and think they could accomplish that in a Span deal to Washington.
The Twins are looking at relief help not only this year, but for 2012. Both Joe Nathan and Matt Capps could become free agents this winter.
Minnesota holds a $12.5 million option for 2012 on Nathan, or a $2 million buyout. The Twins are not expected to pick up the option, though they could negotiate a new deal to bring Nathan back.
Meanwhile, Capps' contract is up after 2011 and he will be a free agent this winter.
Acquiring Storen not only would add late-innings depth during this summer's stretch run, it also could give the Twins a long-term solution at closer if Capps and Nathan both leave this winter.
Posted on: April 15, 2010 5:56 pm
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ten games into their season, the Twins are on a high after taking series' from three contenders (Angels, White Sox and Red Sox) and winning their first three series for the first time in a season since 1987.
But if Thursday's 8-0 win was a potential glimpse of lefty Francisco Liriano's 2010 season, the best might be yet to come.
Liriano, coming off of a 5-13 season while returning from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, shut out Boston for seven innings in an 8-0 Twins romp and showed a repertoire that could become one of the Twins' most lethal weapons.
"If he can get back to the Liriano everyone keeps saying he was, he's going to be real big for us," Twins center fielder Denard Span said.
In holding Boston to four hits and striking out eight over his seven innings, Liriano threw 96 pitches. What the Twins liked best was that he relied on catcher Joe Mauer and threw his fastball often early, saving his slider for later. Last year, he often didn't trust his fastball and relied too heavily on his slider.
"We've talked all along," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "I've told him, 'That slider is your out pitch, but if you overuse it early, it's not going to be an out pitch. If you keep it in your back pocket, they'll swing at it later in the game.'"
Liriano threw a filthy slider to Kevin Youkilis for a called strike three in the first inning -- plate umpire Tim Tschida might have been a bit generous -- but saved many of the 26 sliders he wound up throwing until later in his outing.
The key with Liriano using his fastball is that it can open up the other side of the plate for him. His hard-biting slider sinks quickly down-and-in to right-handed hitters. By throwing his fastball to the other side of the plate, it keeps hitters from guarding one side of the plate.
When Liriano went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA as a rookie in '06 before his elbow injury, his slider was one of the nastiest pitches in the game.
"I can always remember facing him and going, wow," says Twins designated hitter Jim Thome, who was with the White Sox in '06. "For me, he was one of the toughest left-handers I've seen. Randy Johnson, in his prime. ... Liriano, with his slider, was the same feeling. You'd have to bear down."
Anderson thinks Liriano's slider is "close" to what it was in '06.
"It's pretty good," the pitching coach said. "It's got that late bite back. Last year, you didn't see as many swings and misses."
This year, if Liriano continues to gain confidence, look out.
One last thought on the Twins' beautiful new Target Field: While there are several gorgeous parks around that are still fairly new -- the parks in San Francisco and Pittsburgh come to mind -- nobody has done as an impressive a job of incorporating club history into the park as the Twins.
From naming the gates after players whose jerseys are retired (Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, to name two) to the countless photos and memorabilia stations throughout the park to the dozens of old Sports Illustrated covers, media guide covers and yearbook covers decorating the press box, lunch room and concourses, the Twins set the standard.
It extends down to the clubhouse, where Puckett and two-time World Series-winning manager Tom Kelly are represented with class -- in quotes.
On one end of the clubhouse, above a door leading to the trainer's room, an eerie and poignant Puckett quote is spelled out in silver letters on a blue wall: "Live for today. Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone."
At the other end of the clubhouse, above a door leading toward the tunnel that takes the Twins to the field, there's this Kelly quote: "We're all in this boat together. Everybody grab an oar."
Funny, the most-heard phrase around Target Field and Minneapolis this week as everyone has been talking/worrying about/fretting over the weather has been this: "Don't worry, when Joe Mauer comes to bat, the sun will come out."
Likes: Denard Span's mother was not at the Target Field opening, but it's not because she's feeling ill effects from when she was hit by a foul ball lined by her son in Tampa the final week of the exhibition season. She's good," Span says. "She was mad I came out of the game. I brought 20 family members to that game. It was an eventful week. She was sore for a couple of days." The reason Denard's mother wasn't here? She didn't trust the Twin Cities weather. "She's coming in May," Span says. Good plan for a Florida native, though the weather here this week is tremendous. ... The Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. She could always turn the world on with her smile. ... Café Latte on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. The Tres Leche cake is phenomenal. ... Adele's Frozen Custard in Excelsior. Might even be better than the Tres Leche cake.
Dislikes: Early morning flights.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Who can turn the world on with her smile?
-- Paul Williams, Love is All Around