Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring training trip Day 4: Overview

Deolis Guerra fires a pitch in the ninth inning Sunday.
Saturday the Twins played on the other side of Florida (against the Mets); for my wife and me, it was Sanibel Day. No baseball; we spent the day on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

But we were back to baseball on Sunday, watching the Twins beat a rag-tag subset of the Miami Marlins. Earlier this month I took note in the Monday print column of the Marlins' complaints when the Red Sox sent a squad of unknowns to play the Fish, and observed:

The Marlins will be the visitors for one of the upcoming games I see in Fort Myers. 
I do not expect to see Giancarlo Stanton or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the two established position players on the Miami roster.

As it happened, the bulk of the Marlins' "names" were on a junket with the Yankees to Panama in some sort of Mariano Rivera tribute tour.

Former Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey started the Fort Myers game for Miami and went five innings, allowing two runs. Slowey spent last year with the Marlins and did fairly well, but was moved out of the rotation in midseason and later shut down after just 92 innings. He re-signed with them, but as a minor leaguer with the proverbial invite. I'd still love to see him make the Twins look foolish for running him off, but that seems unlikely.

For the Twins, it was Ricky Nolasco for five innings of baserunners, ground balls and two runs. The Twins turned two double plays behind him (keystone combo of Eduardo Escobar at short and Brian Dozier at second).

After Nolasco came Caleb Thielbar, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton, each of whom mowed through the Marlins lineup. Then came the guy I was most curious to see, Deolis Guerra.

Guerra is the last piece of the Johan Santana trade left with the Twins. A big right-hander, he missed most of last year after a blood clot was found in his right shoulder while he was pitching for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Like Slowey, he's a non-roster guy.

Guerra's changeup has been touted in the past, and he used it quite a bit in the ninth inning. Fastballs were generally in the low 90s, topping out (this according to the stadium scoreboard) at 93. His change was in the upper 70s, and he struck out two Marlins with it.

Guerra offers the same style of pitching as Burton. It comes at a lower price. I suggested last week that the Twins might seek to move Burton to make room for Guerra. What I saw Sunday certainly did not discourage that notion.

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