Saturday, January 29, 2011

They said, I say

Twins nuggets in the news and my reaction:

* Joe Nathan, preparing to test his reconstructed pitching elbow in spring training, invites manager Ron Gardenhire to step into the batter's box during a throwing session and says: "I wasn't afraid to come inside and brush him back a couple times."

Autograph time at Twins fest for Ron Gardenhire and
Joe Nathan, presumably after Nathan's throwing session.
I say: Pitchers coming back from ligament replacement surgery frequently find that command is an issue. This story implies that Nathan is comfortable enough with his command — the ability to locate the pitch where he wants it — to buzz his fastball off the plate inside on his manager. (It also implies that it matters to Nathan that he not hit his manager; I suspect there are pitchers who would privately love to bury a fastball in their boss' ribcage.)

* LaVelle Neal's blog has commentary on new lefty reliever Dusty Hughes from anonymous team officials:

... they really think Hughes can help. Hughes throws four pitchers — fastball, curve, slider and change — and they think he can be more than a specialty lefty.

``He's Craig Breslow, with crisper stuff,'' one said of Hughes.

I say: I'd be more impressed with this if the Twins had attached any real value to Breslow when they had him. Perhaps it was just Gardy who didn't think much of Breslow, but Breslow was seldom used in game situations and jettisoned rapidly when he hit a rough patch; since the Twins waived him, Breslow has pitched 130 innings with a 2.84 ERA and 115 strikeouts.

The four pitches thing is intriguing, though. It implies that Hughes has a starter's repertoire. That sounds better than it is for a reliever; a starter with four average major league pitches can work with that, but a reliever is better off with one or two quality offerings. Still, it worked for Matt Guerrier.

The trees behind the wall?
Going, gong ...
* The Twins will retire Bert Blyleven's Number 28 this summer, about a week before he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I say: No surprise there. I've figured for years that he needed to get into the Hall for his number to be retired. Unlike non-Cooperstown honorees Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva, Blyleven spent a good portion of his career with other teams.

* The spruce trees behind Target Field's center field fence are to be removed because hitters found the movement of branches in the breeze and the shadows distracting.

I say: As a fan, I liked the trees, but if there were legitimate concerns about visibility, they had to go.

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