This past week, MLB pitchers and catchers reported to wherever their team has spring training, with position players scheduled to report next week. This is a welcome sight for baseball fans, as it marks the beginning of the 2011 MLB season and the beginning of spring. Many teams, including the Twins, have made notable changes this off-season. Here are some of the major changes for the Twins and some early news from Fort Myers.
- Closer Joe Nathan has returned to the team after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last spring. Reports say that Nathan is throwing about 88-89 mph, which is good news considering he had major surgery a year ago. With Matt Capps likely to be the team’s set-up man, the Twins should have a very strong back end of their bullpen, which is very important, especially now that Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, and Jon Rauch are gone.
- First baseman Justin Morneau continues to work out in Phoenix. He is doing well in his recovery from a season-ending concussion a year ago and is expected to arrive at the Twins spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, on February 21. Having Morneau healthy is one of the most important factors for the Twins to be successful in 2011.
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who will likely play second base, was acquired by the Twins from a Japanese team this winter. Nishioka is supposed to be very fast and a good hitter, so he should be a lot of fun to watch.
- Catcher Joe Mauer (I’ve heard he’s pretty good!) is recovering from knee surgery and probably won’t play much in spring training. Last time he missed spring training, in 2009, he did pretty well (he only won AL MVP!).
- Pitchers Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker are currently dealing with injuries. Liriano recently had an MRI on his sore shoulder, and no damage was found. He is expected to continue throwing in a few days, so that is good news. Baker was doing well in his recovery from elbow surgery until a few weeks ago when his elbow flared up. Even if Baker isn’t ready to go by the start of the regular season, the Twins are in good shape because they have six starting pitchers (Pavano, Liriano, Duensing, Baker, Blackburn, Slowey) competing for five spots in the starting rotation.
The Twins re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome this winter, two very good players. So, now that pitchers and catchers have reported, let’s play ball!!
Written by: Sam Graves