Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Notes, quotes and comment

Look closely at the bat knob, and you might see something
odd about Kurt Suzuki's current bat.
Interesting piece by the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino about Kurt Suzuki's switch to an "axe-handle" bat. I had read a Baseball America piece on the (slightly) increasing use of the handle earlier this year, but I can't say I've spotted one in use.

Judging by the above photo, taken since Suzuki is said to have converted to the new bat full time, there may not be enough difference to really notice, especially when the hitter has both hands on the bat.


Zack Jones, a high-velocity arm the Twins lost in the Rule 5 draft last offseason, was returned to the Minnesota organization by the Brewers over the weekend. He had shoulder problems early in spring training and never actually pitched for the Brewers, but he did get about two-and-a-half months of major league (minimum) salary while on the disabled list. (Jones did make a few minor league appearances on a rehab assignment.)

Jones has been assigned to Double-A Chattanooga, and we'll obviously see what happens from here.


The Twins were off Monday, and I spent the evening running errands and mowing, but I did catch an inning of Steven Wright's knuckleball pitching. He went nine innings of one-run ball (unearned) against the White Sox, but the White Sox won in 10, beating Craig Kimbrel. ("Hey, a fast ball. I know how to hit something hard and straight!") The run was unearned because it scored on a passed ball, but really -- passed balls with a knuckleballer on the mound are more the fault of the pitch than of the catcher.

Wright has now made 14 starts for Boston this year, 98.1 innings with an ERA of 2.01. There is speculation that he might start the All Star game next month.

It's fun to watch a flutterballer work, partly because it looks easy enough. I can watch, say, Ervin Santana pitch and know I could never throw with that velocity (and he isn't a particularly hard thrower).

Looks easy but it obviously isn't. There are only two true knuckleballers in the bigs now -- Wright and R.D. Dickey of Toronto -- and they both spent years in the minors refining the pitch.

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