Monday, February 23, 2015

Throwing and watching bullpens

Time to get back on the hill for Glen Perkins and the
rest of the Twins pitchers.
The first official workout of Twins camp is today. The full squad stuff is still a week away, but the pitchers get to start throwing now. (There are, certainly, plenty of hitters in camp as well, but they don't have to be and the formal workouts for them come later.)

In a very real sense, some of the most important developments of the spring will occur this week as pitchers find out what their arms are capable of -- especially the guys who are either coming off surgery or who put off surgery in hopes that rehab would suffice.

Pitchers are pitchers. They are all injury risks by definition. But here are four names to monitor in the early bullpens:

Glen Perkins, the All-Star closer who was shut down last September. The expectation is that rest and rehab will "fix" his shoulder problems. If he's hurting, the bullpen plans will require a major makeover.

Mike Pelfrey, who had elbow surgery in June and was throwing bullpens late in the season without any chance of getting back onto the roster. He figures to be on the outside looking in for a rotation berth, but the Twins have a much larger financial commitment to him than to the other candidates and Terry Ryan has repeatedly deflected questions about Pelfrey as a reliever.

Ricky Nolasco had a miserable season to debut his four-year contract, and he spent about a month on the DL in midsummer. He avoided surgery and actually pitched well in September (one true clunker of a start in five outings that month), The Twins have a sizable investment in the 32-year-old, and the only way he won't open the season in the rotation is if he is injured.

Tommy Milone, the lefty acquired in midseason from Oakland who had a benign tumor removed from his neck. Milone's record with the A's is much better than he showed in his handful of starts with Minnesota, and he is probably the favorite to come out of camp with the fifth starter's job.

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