Thursday, February 14, 2013

Notes, quotes and comment

When I composed Wednesday's off-the-cuff assessment of the Cleveland Indians, I hadn't seen this item on how Terry Francona intends to deploy his defense.

In a nutshell: Michael Bourn in center, Drew Stubbs in right, Nick Swisher at first, Mark Reynolds as the primary DH and Carlos Santana at catcher.

Francona hasn't seen all that much of Santana behind the plate, and it's possible that once he has, he'll rethink that plan. Or perhaps he's not as concerned about defense from his catcher as predecessor Manny Acta was. Acta found plenty of reasons/opportunity to have Lou Marson catch, with Santana at first base or designated hitter. Francona apparently intends to handle Santana differently.

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Elliot Johnson, one of the two shortstops DFA'd by Tampa Bay, went to the Kansas City Royals as the player-to-be-named in the James Shields deal.

That's an unusual PTN. Usually they're minor leaguers. Seldom are they players with appreciable major league service time. Anyway, one of the two out of the way, one to go.

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Rich Harden, the talented but oft-injured pitcher the Twins signed to a minor league deal this winter, was one of the first to take a bullpen session when camp officially opened Wednesday in Fort Meyers, Fla. He later told the writers that he was at about 80 to 85 percent of his arm strength -- which isn't particularly worrisome, as no pitchers should be ramping it up yet -- and that he hasn't felt this good in six years.

Harden didn't pitch at all in 2012 after extensive shoulder surgery. One wishes to be optimistic about him, but his track record is riddled with injury and disappointment, and shoulder damage is notoriously difficult to come back from. On the plus side, the Twins aren't really counting on him, so anything they get is to the good.

It's too soon to tell if he's going to pay off or add to the medical bills, and too soon to know what role he would play if healthy. I've assumed all along that he's a starting candidate, but there is considerable chatter about a bullpen role for him.

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Crowded camp indeed: The Twins have three extra players in camp -- non roster guys who aren't official invitees, but who are there to get ready for their participation in the World Baseball Classic: Left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers (Canada), right-handed pitcher J.O. Berrios (Puerto Rico) and second baseman/outfielder Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico).

Rosario's time in camp may be interesting. The Twins, of course, are trying to turn him into a second baseman. He played mainly outfield in winter ball, however, and will be an outfielder for Puerto Rico in the WBC. I wonder if the Twins will try to work him at second while he's with the major league staff, or if they'll let him focus on the outfield he'll be playing in the tournament.


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