Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring training trip, Day 1: Overview

Matt Hoffman has
spent six years in
the Detroit Tigers system,
compiling a minor league
record of 19-27,  3.90
I'm in Fort Myers for a few days to take in a little spring training and escape what I presume is the continuing melt from our harsh winter.

A few comments from today's game (I'll have another post in the morning on a specific player):

The Twins pitching usage might contain a signal. Phil Hughes started and went three innings. The first two were very good, the third was ugly -- there were two errors, a play that should have been made but wasn't, a play that probably couldn't be made but almost was, and way too many pitches.

Sam Deduno, the apparent front-runner for the fifth starter job, was also scheduled to work. But before he got the call, non-roster lefty Matt Hoffman worked two innings. The first was clean, the second was not: another infield error resulted in two runs. Unearned runs, but they still count as runs.

This interests me because the Twins used Hoffman while the Red Sox still had their regulars in the game. They obviously wanted to see him against bona fide major league hitters. Duduno got his work in against the subs (three clean innings).

My inference: The idea of replacing Brian Duensing with Hoffman may have legs.

Brandon Waring takes an unsuccessful
swing during Thursday's game against
the Boston Red Sox.
Jason Kubel looked a bit trimmer than I remember. He drew two walks Thursday, one of them against a lefty. Earlier in the week, he homered off a lefty, and a really good one (David Price). Kubel hadn't done much this spring before this week, and he probably needed to start showing something.

I'm not trying to sell this as reason to believe in Kubel. There's a lot of reason to say he can't hit lefties enough to justify playing him against them -- like his entire career. But there are people in the Twins organization looking for reason to believe in him, and one in particular is the manager.

Brandon Waring is a minor league vet in camp as a nonroster invitee. We were seated next to the assistant general manager of the Bowie Baysox, the Double A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and he spoke highly of Waring, who he described as a decent third baseman, can play first or (in a pinch) an outfield corner, good power, doesn't hit for average.

I theorize the Twins signed Waring because they figured Miguel Sano was going to need surgery and they needed the third base help for the high minors. That's how it worked out.

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