Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring training trip: Day One

Officially, Saturday's exhibition game didn't happen. The Twins scored nine runs in the first inning, and they all went away when the game was called in the third inning. Which happened a few minutes after I decided we'd been rained on long enough and we left the park. The game was probably called as I was trying to turn left out of the parking area onto Three Cypress Road  Six Mile Cypress.

The big news broke sometime after the game: The Twins have a one-year deal with free-agent pitcher Lance Lynn, pending a physical.

A low-priced, short-term contract (one-year, $12 million) was certainly not what Lynn was expecting out of his free agency, but as with Logan Morrison, the Twins got themselves a bargain with a spring training signing.

The addition of Lynn almost certainly ends the rotation battle. There's Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson to start the season, with Ervin Santana added around the end of April. There's not a Cy Young favorite in that bunch, but if Kyle Gibson is your No. 5 starter, your rotation is pretty darn solid. Phil Hughes, Anibal Sanchez and Aldaberto Mejia are destined for the bullpen or off the roster.

A few other random observations from Saturday:

* Mitch Garver, the frontrunner for the backup catcher job, played left field.

He played it ... cautiously. Which makes sense; he's out of position, and the field was wet and the ball undoubtably slippery. There was a liner hit his direction that I thought was catchable, but Garver made no real effort to come in on it and conceded the single. Again, it was sensible; the Twins had a nine-run lead, and let's just not screw things up.

The fourth outfielder slot is not guaranteed to Robbie Grossman, who has his own defensive shortcomings. Paul Molitor may be looking for a right-handed hitter he can feel comfortable with in the outfield. I don't think Garver fits that bill.

* I watched Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas and a few others who weren't slated to play take batting practice on a side field. Everybody opened BP with the traditional two bunts, including the two big men. Vargas actually appeared to take his second bunt seriously, laying it down toward third and taking off for first base out of the left-handed batters box. The way teams shift him, it makes sense for him to work on that bunt.

* Kyle Gibson allowed a lot of baserunners but also got two double plays, one of which he started himself. I no longer have high expectations for Gibson, but I do think he's one of the better fielding pitchers the Twins have had in the past decade or so.

* I was favorably impressed with the new barbeque stand at Hammond Stadium.

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