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Fort Myers Report Day Three

Welcome back to the blog and thanks for reading the entries from the past couple of days. As anticipated yesterday, my third day in camp began with a lot of news from the Major League side of the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

The Twins announced a number of cuts this morning. Outfielders Aaron Hicks and Eddie Rosario and pitcher Trevor May were all optioned to Rochester and pitcher Mark Hamburger was reassigned to Minor League camp. The Hicks news especially drew a lot of attention considering he has started in centerfield Opening Day for the Twins each of the last two seasons.

Here’s a Minneapolis Star-Tribune report on the moves.

Meanwhile, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press also delves into the news on the Hicks demotion.

LHP Tommy Milone, who made his Twins organization debut last year for the Red Wings in Louisville, has won the job as the Twins fifth starter. Mike Pelfrey was told he will start the year in the bullpen and he isn’t real happy about it.

Many of the people I’ve talked to say that Pelfrey really looked good this spring topping out at 96 mph on the radar gun while also utilizing a new split-change. It will be interesting to see if another Major League team touches base with Terry Ryan about Pelfrey’s availability in a trade. He could be a nice pick-up for someone.

While watching the Twins take batting practice before their game with the Phillies, I noticed a familiar face–sans moustache–getting ready to hit.  Penfield High School and University at Buffalo product Jason Kanzler was invited over from Minor League camp to play in today’s MLB exhbition. (Kanzler grounded out to shortstop in his one at bat of the game.)  The 24-year-old had a solid first full pro season in 2014 and has a very good chance of being the first Rochesterian to play for the Red Wings in…well..decades. (I’m not counting Kevin Slowey who went to kindergarten in Penfield but grew up in Pittsburgh.)

Here’s a quick chat with Kanzler from earlier today…

As for the Red Wings game today…the Wings shutout the Norfolk Tides 1-0 in a quick, well-pitched game. LHP Jason Wheeler–who led the Twins Minor Leaguers in ERA last year–was sharp for five innings. Logan Darnell will be in the Wings bullpen this season. The lefty followed Wheeler with two more strong innings allowing only one hit. Then Ryan Pressly and Lester Oliveros each pitched a scoreless inning apiece.

AJ Achter  will be in the Wings bullpen to start the season as well. He pitched a sharp 1-2-3 inning in the Double-A game to get some work today also.

Other notes…

-The demotion of Hicks, Rosario, May and Hamburger starts to bring the Wings Opening Day roster into a little bit better focus. Hicks and Rosario figure to make up two-thirds of a talented outfield. May will return to the Wings rotation to start the season after being one of the best starters in the IL last year. Hamburger–who really opened some eyes this spring training–could be either one of the Red Wings starters or he could slot into the bullpen. Either way, Hamburger will likely be a key member of Marty Mason’s staff this season.

-Doug Bernier asked me yesterday if I had caught up with Coach Dinkelman yet. That’s right…Red Wings legend Brian Dinkelman is back with the Twins now starting his coaching career. He will be the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Twins working with the players who are still new to pro baseball. Here is my visit today with Dinkelman…

Dinkelman also told me that his former Red Wings teammate Danny Lehmann is now back in baseball. He will be a pro scout this year for the Dodgers. By the way, the Dodgers have a bunch of former Red Wings working in their organization right now including Aaron Bates, Luis Matos, Bobby Cuellar, Shawn Wooten and Gil Velazquez.

-Had a terrific dinner last night with former Red Wings athletic trainers Tony Leo and Dave Pruemer. Their recommendation of Auerlio’s was on the money.

-The Red Wings continue to confirm promotions each week at RedWingsBaseball.com/Fun, and here’s some interesting news: On Monday, 96.5 WCMF is making an announcement regarding our June 27 Batman Night. The announcement will be made during the Church of Crowley show between 3-4 pm, and mysterious Batman Night-related Facebook posts have appeared over the last two weeks.

Crowley numbers

This image also was posted last week…what could it all mean?  Our Batman Night last year was nominated for a MiLBY Award as best promotion; here’s a link to some pics from that event.

Now, let’s end the blog with some pictures…

Dinkelman

Coach Brian Dinkelman

Phil and Gene

Two former Red Wings manager Phil Roof (L) and Gene Glynn (R)

Twins Territory

The cool outside renovation of the Twins Minor League clubhouse with a cameo from former Twins farm director Jim Rantz.

That’s all for today. The Wings will have a “camp day” on Sunday featuring the Red Wings against the Twins new Double-A franchise in Chattanooga. LHP Taylor Rogers is one of the guys scheduled to pitch for the Red Wings. I’ve heard tremendous stuff about Rogers this spring so I’m anxious to see him live.

Thanks again for reading and Go Wings!

-Josh W

Fort Myers Report Day Two

Day One of my annual trip to Spring Training began with a friendly full body physical pat-down by a TSA agent at Rochester International Airport and ended with a little NCAA Tournament action with some Red Wings exhibition baseball mixed in.
Day Two hasn’t featured any romantic encounters with any TSA agents but has not been a routine day. Despite having a very dry Spring Training, rain was in the forecast for today forcing the Red Wings game vs. Durham to be pushed up to 10:00 AM in Port Charlotte. Instead of making that hour long drive today, I stayed in Fort Myers to catch up with a few Red Wings pitchers who stuck around in Minor League camp and to watch the Twins play Pittsburgh at the renovated CenturyLink Stadium.
Oh…and the new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred just happened to be here too. He is visiting all 30 Major League teams this spring, and today was his day to talk to the Twins. Manfred, who is from Rome, NY just like Red Wings Account Executive Derek Swanson, was asked about a bunch of topics by the Minnesota media. One of the subjects he addressed was the emphasis his administration is putting on improving the pace of play. Red Wings fans will notice three “pitch clocks” at Frontier Field this season.  Manfred said one of the reasons there will be pitch clocks in Double-A and Triple-A this season is to “understand exactly what this will do as far as play of the game on the field” is concerned.
I have mixed feelings on the pitch clock idea…mostly concerning with how it will be executed. Twins GM Terry Ryan told me that he thinks people will barely notice it, however, and he obviously believes it is a good idea.
Here’s more on the pitch clocks…
As for the Twins game….
Trevor May is still battling to try and land the fifth spot in the Twins rotation and today did not go well for him against the Pirates. May lasted 4.2 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. May suffered the loss in the Twins 4-2 defeat which was shortened to 8 innings due to the rain that eventually showed up. (And showed up in a big way I might add.)
If May starts the season in Rochester, it will just further bolster what is shaping up to potentially be a spectacular Red Wings pitching staff. Last year’s Wings staff came a point away from being the first Wings staff to lead the IL in ERA since 1976 when a guy named Dennis Martinez anchored Joe Altobelli’s staff. The 2014 staff also set a new franchise record for strikeouts.  On paper, this year’s staff should be even better.
One of the guys who figures to anchor the staff is Alex Meyer. Here’s Alex talking about his preparation for 2015…
A.J. Achter will return to start the season in the bullpen. He was the Wings’ lone mid-season All Star selection in 2014. A.J. should be a mainstay in what promises to be a stellar Red Wings relief corps.
Other notes from Day Two…
-The Twins outrighted RHP Lester Oliveros off of their 40 man roster after the game today. He posted a 2.29 ERA in 24 appearances for the Red Wings last year. It sounds like tomorrow could be a busy day in Twins camp with some cuts coming. We could have a lot more clarification on what the Wings Opening Day roster will look like in the next day or two.
-coincidence  or not but both Terry Ryan and Twins Director of Minor League Operations Brad Steil were wearing Red Wings hats today.
-had a great chat with former Red Wings manager Phil Roof who is 74-years-old and looking great. He still throws batting practice some of the time in Spring Training. He spends most of the exhibition games hanging out in the bullpen with new bullpen coach—and former Twins closer—Eddie Guardado. I didn’t realize this, but Guardado is the first player Phil Roof ever promoted to the big leagues when Phil was managing Double-A Nashville.
Phil also managed Torii Hunter at a critical stage of his career. Hunter was struggling in the big leagues in 2000 and was demoted to Phil’s team in Salt Lake City. Phil (and former Wings hitting coach Bill Springman) helped Hunter to relax and trust his natural ability. Hunter spent 55 games in Salt Lake that year and hit .368 with 17 doubles, 18 homers and 61 RBIs. He hasn’t been back to the Minor Leagues since.
-got another good endorsement for new Wings manager Mike Quade…this one from Twins radio broadcaster Cory Provus. Cory was a broadcaster for the Cubs when Quade was the Cubs third base coach and says Wings fan should expect great things from their new skipper.
-Brock Peterson and Adam Brett Walker were two of the non-roster Minor League guys who got to suit up for the Twins today vs. the Pirates. Peterson hit 15 home runs last year between Syracuse and Albuquerque after hitting 25 HRs for Memphis in 2013. The Wings could be a little shy in the power department early in the season so Peterson’s presence will be important in the Wings lineup.
Walker is an intriguing prospect who will likely start the season with the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga.  Walker easily led the Florida State League in HRs last year with 25 and has immense power. He also tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 156. If everything comes together for Walker, he could be a tremendous power hitter. I’ve heard that in the past week Walker has hit SIX home runs in Minor League exhibition games including FOUR off the batters eye in center field.
-If you are in Fort Myers and want to watch NCAA tournament games—or sports of any sort for that matter—you can do worse than World of Beers. That is, unless you don’t like outdoor patios, big TVs with sports on them and beer.
Tomorrow the Red Wings host the Norfolk Tides at noon on the Minor League side of the Twins complex. The Twins will entertain the Phillies next door. Should be a busy day at CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Meanwhile, back at Frontier Field, single game tickets go on sale tomorrow. Get yours now!
Thanks reading. We will have another report for you sometime tomorrow.
Go Wings!
-Josh W

Fort Myers Report Day 1

Hey there Red Wings fans!!!  It’s me…Josh Whetzel…your trusty broadcaster. Against all odds, I have made it to Fort Myers for some Spring Training coverage of the Red Wings. Hopefully, I can give you a little bit of a flavor of what it’s like in southwest Florida as the Twins and their Minor League affiliates prepare for the 2015 season.

Today’s report will be rather brief. Despite a 4:00 AM wakeup call, I still didn’t manage to arrive at the Red Wings exhibition today until the fifth inning.

The Red Wings met their IL North rivals Pawtucket today at the Red Sox complex located close to the Southwest Florida International Airport. While the big league Twins lost to Boston 5-4 next door at JetBlue Park, the Red Wings played the PawSox to a 3-3 tie.

Former Mets farmhand Greg Peavey started the game for the Red Wings and pitched four shutout innings allowing just one hit while fanning five. It sounds like Peavey has a shot at one of the Red Wings starting rotation spots. Otherwise, he will likely wind up in the rotation for the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga.

RHPs Adrian Salcedo, Michael Tonkin and Ryan Pressly each pitched in relief and each allowed a solo homer in windy conditions.

On the offensive side, popular Red Wings OFer Eric Farris led off and reach with a couple of hits including a double. Jose Martinez—who will be making his IL debut this year after a bunch of time in the PCL—had a pair of singles. James Beresford—more on him in a minute—delivered a two-out, two-run single in the 9th for the Wings which briefly gave them a 3-2 lead before Pawtucket tied it in the bottom of the 9th off Pressly.

Other notes…

-in the Double-A game, I heard Twins super prospect Byron Buxton homered on each of the first two pitches he saw today…one to left field and one to right field. 20-year-old RHP Jose Berrios pitched the first five innings of that game, and I’m told was electric. If Berrios gets off to the kind of start I think he might in Chattanooga, he could get promoted to Rochester very quickly.

-Speaking of Buxton, here’s a cool video from Sports Illustrated featuring the Twins top prospect.

-TwinsDaily.com does a great job of covering the Twins Minor Leagues. Here’s  a profile of slugger Brock Peterson who is back with the Twins org this year hoping to provide some power for the middle of Mike Quade’s lineup.

-Even Wings fans need to get ready for the season 

-And finally, the Red Wings 2015 Pocket Schedules are out. Aussie second baseman James Beresford is proudly featured on the cover. I had a chance to visit with Jimmy today after the Wings exhibition.

Check out the blog again tomorrow for more tidbits to help get you geared up for what promises to be a big season at Frontier Field!

-Josh

Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty

Only a few days of Spring Training remain for the Twins and the Red Wings. The Twins open next Monday, March 31 in Chicago, and the Red Wings are set to open Thursday, April 3 in Buffalo. Both the Twins and the Red Wings lost today at the Lee County Sports Complex. Pittsburgh edged the Twins 2-1 while the Wings were pounded by Pawtucket 10-1 next door on the Minor League side of things.

The wind was blowing out to left during the Red Wings game, and Pawtucket took advantage of it with five HRs including one by Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava who batted in every inning for the first half of the game for Pawtucket.

Brooks Raley started the game for the Red Wings. The lefty out of Texas A&M was claimed off waivers from the Cubs just before Spring Training and has pitched in the big leagues parts of the last two years. He only allowed one run–on an Alex Hassan HR–on four hits in four innings. Yohan Pino, Virgil Vasquez and Mark Hamburger also pitched for the Wings, and each gave up at least one long ball.

The Wings run scored in the seventh when Brad Nelson doubled and Evan Bigley drove him home with a single. The only Red Wings player with more than one hit was Dan Rohlfing who contributed two singles. Rohlfing is still technically on the Twins Major League roster right now and was playing in the Minor League game to get some at bats.

Former Twins GM and current Twins VP Bill Smith was kind enough to give the New Britain broadcast Jeff Dooley and I a tour of the Twins Minor League Academy they are building at the Lee County Sports Complex. It is really going to be something else. The plan is for this facility to house Twins Minor Leaguers during spring training and when they are playing at the complex during the actual season.  Currently, only Detroit and Pittsburgh have similar facilities. Here are more details.

Below is a picture of a field they are constructing behind the new building. The GCL Twins will play their games on this field.

GCL field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other notes from today…

-It certainly looks like Kyle Gibson is landing a job in the Twins rotation. Reportedly, the Twins have placed LHP Scott Diamond on waivers.

-Speaking of Gibson, we chatted with him today about his Spring Training and his new fatherhood. Plus, he couldn’t wait to get in a late dig about my Jayhawks. You can listen HERE. Gibson is clearly jealous of Kansas’ success.

-Yesterday, it looked like Vance Worley would be in the Red Wings bullpen. (In fact, he looked good in a 1-2-3 inning a day ago.) The Twins traded him to the Pirates yesterday afternoon, however, so that’s not going to happen.

-Penfield High School product Jason Kanzler is a great story. He was lightly recruited out of HS, got cut by Northeastern, but wound up going to the University at Buffalo and having a great career. He was the Mid American Conference Player of the Year last season and was drafted by the Twins in the 20th round. Jason talked with me today about how his first spring training is going. That will really be something if he plays for the Red Wings someday.

-The Twins–and baseball’s–top prospect Byron Buxton has been sidelined by a left wrist injury that will keep him out for the start of the season. Buxon was slated to start the year at Double A New Britain. Let’s hope this doesn’t keep him on the shelf for long. Wings fans certainly would like to see him at Frontier Field later this year.

-Weird sighting of the day…Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa walking through the Minor League side of the Twins complex. I have NO idea what he was doing there, but it was definitely him.

-If you missed it yesterday, the Red Wings are installing a new videoboard in RF. 

-Finally, the Twins moved to Minnesota from Washington in 1961. However, they STILL use some old trunks that the Senators used on train trips back in the 1950s. Visual proof is below…

Senators trunks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Wings play Pawtucket on the Boston side of Fort Myers tomorrow. Trevor May will get the start for the Wings.

Remember, the Wings open at home Saturday, April 5 against Buffalo!

Go Wings!

Josh

Now This Is More Like It…

After all the rain yesterday, it was great to see the sun today in Fort Myers (as evidenced below by that lame picture of a palm tree.)

palm tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the soaking rain from a day ago prevented the Red Wings from playing their regularly scheduled exhibition against the Norfolk Tides. Instead, they played a quasi-intrasquad game with Double A New Britain. I say “quasi” because no one was allowed to run the bases and infielders weren’t allowed on the dirt  because it was still so soft. However, pitchers were able to get some innings in and hitters were able to see live pitching.

The Wings used 6’9″ Alex Meyer for the first four innings, and he showed impressive stuff. As reported, he throws hard and has a wicked breaking ball. The Twins want him to refine his command and further polish his changeup, but there is little doubt Meyer could be dominant. No Wings pitcher has fanned more than 10 hitters in a game in a couple of years. Meyer should have a chance to change that.

Lefty Logan Darnell, who pitched on the same collegiate staff as Meyer at the University of Kentucky followed with three sharp innings. He kept the ball down and was very impressive. Vance Worley, the Twins Opening Day starter in 2013 who was recently outrighted to the Red Wings, then pitched a sharp 1-2-3 inning. It looks like Worley will open the season in the Wings bullpen.  Michael Tonkin pitched the final “inning” and looked good as well. All in all, the pitching for both sides look pretty good. Pat Dean who pitched a chunk of last year for the Red Wings pitched well for New Britain, in fact.

UPDATE: it looks like the Pirates have acquired Worley from the Twins for cash considerations.

Before we get to some Odds and Ends, how about a couple of pictures of people you might recognize…

Former Red Wings manager Phil Roof

phil roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And The Mayor…Tommy Watkins

tommy watkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the Odds and Ends…

-The Twins beat Baltimore 4-1 in an exhibition at Hammond Stadium.  Chris Colabello, still trying to land an Opening Day MLB job with the Twins, ripped a double and is hitting .351 now on the spring. Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson are apparently having what the Cliburns used to call a “dance off” for the final spot in the Twins starting rotation, and both pitched well today. Diamond went three innings and allowed just one run on two hits. Gibson fired three shutout innings and gave up just two hits. Here’s a quick story on the game.

-I bumped into RHP Matt Guerrier who was released by the Twins yesterday. Well, he resigned a Minor League deal with the Twins today. Matt was in uniform and worked out on the Minor League side of the complex this morning. He is likely going to begin this year in Extended Spring Training in Fort Myers, but—if all goes well—is hoping to be in Rochester soon. He says he feels great, and I’ve heard he threw the ball well in Major League camp.

-Mike Pelfrey started the Twins exhibition today. Check out this prank the Twins pulled on him in the clubhouse recently.

-Twins Minor League Director Brad Steil sat down with us today and gave us a Spring Training report. Listen in here.

-We also visited with the aforementioned Alex Meyer today after his outing. He’s excited about coming to Rochester and his first chance to face Triple A hitters.

-Jonah Keri previewed the AL Central for Grantland. He’s not very optimistic about the Twins.

-Watched Kohl Stewart pitch in an intrasquad game today,and he was impressive. The 4th pick of the draft last year by the Twins won’t turn 20 until after the season. His fastball has excellent life, and he has a nice breaking ball. It might be a little while before he reaches Rochester, but he has a chance to be a good one.

-Last night enjoyed a terrific meal with former Red Wings trainers (now Twins ATCs) Dave Pruemer and Tony Leo, former Red Wings pitching coach (now Twins bullpen coach) Bobby Cuellar and the New Britain Rock Cats announcer Jeff Dooley. Bobby even bought! I know…I didn’t believe it either.

-Finally, back in Rochester the Wings unveiled plans for a new videoboard in right field. This should be great. Check out the story.

The Red Wings should be able to play their scheduled exhibition with the Pawtucket Red Sox tomorrow with no worries. So finally, I should be able to see a “normal” exhibition game.

Until tomorrow, Go Wings!

Josh

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Days and Mondays

In twelve years of coming to Twins/Red Wings Spring Training in Fort Myers, I think the weather today was probably the worst I’ve experienced. The day was almost a complete wash-out with the Twins game with the Tampa Bay Rays cancelled due to Mother Nature.

 

The Wings were supposed to play the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate Durham today, but the threat of bad weather threw those plans for a loop. Instead, the Wings played the Twins Double-A affiliate New Britain in an intrasquad game. It lightly drizzled throughout the game which was finally halted after six innings tied at 4.

 

Sean Gilmartin, the lefty acquired during the offseason from the Braves for Ryan Doumit, started on the mound for the Wings and lasted four innings. He gave up four runs on just two hits (one of them a 1st inning 3-run HR from hulking C.J. Ziegler). The former 1st rounder out of Florida State walked three and fanned three.

 

RHP A.J. Achter, who apparently has had an excellent spring, worked a scoreless fifth inning. LHP Edgar Ibarra then struck out the side in the sixth.

 

Offensively, former Norfolk Tides corner infielder Brandon Waring continued his hot spring with a HR for the Wings. OFer Evan Bigley added an RBI single. Guys like James Beresford, Eric Fryer, Brad Nelson, Darin Mastroianni and Danny Santana also chipped in hits.

The big news the Lee County Sports Complex today concerned a big round of cuts made by the Twins that helps sharpen the picture of the Red Wings Opening Day roster.  RHPs Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin along with catcher Chris Herrmann were optioned to the Red Wings. Plus, LHP Matt Hoffman and Aaron Thompson, RHP Deolis Guerra, OF Wilkin Ramirez and infielders Doug Bernier and Deibinson Romero were all reassigned to Minor League camp. All nine of those players would appear likely to be in a Wings uniform April 3 in Buffalo.

Additionally, the Twins released former Wings RHP Matt Guerrier who was in camp on a Minor League deal after coming back from arm surgery. The Twins are leaving open the idea of resigning Guerrier though so he still could end up in Rochester again at some point.

The Twins are now down to 29 players in Major League and need to trim down to 25 by the end of the week. A couple of those decisions should be interesting.

Other odds and ends from a rainy Monday in Spring Training…among the guys still battling for a spot on the Twins 25 man roster: Chris Colabello. Coming off one of the best Red Wings seasons in decades, Colabello still isn’t sure if he is going to make the team. He’s put up big numbers this spring though…a scout told me he thinks Michael Tonkin could be dominant. He said Tonkin just needs to develop better consistency with his slider and that Tonkin’s fastball has been “just about unhittable” this spring…that same scout likened probable Wings shortstop Danny Santana to former Wing Alexi Casilla, and he meant it as a big compliment. Sounds like Santana will be fun to watch…Wings manager Gene Glynn was in his normal upbeat mood. His son Chris is going to be serving the Red Wings in a variety of rolls this year. Chris will be catching in the bullpen, throwing batting practice and also working as the Wings video coordinator…former manager Phil Roof looks great in the Major League clubhouse where he is helping out. He also made a point of mentioning how highly he thinks of Gene Glynn as a manager…How’s this for a sighting in Minor League camp? Baseball great Pudge Rodriguez…the Twins are converting his son Dereck to the mound after beginning his career as a strong-armed outfielder.

Tomorrow, the Wings hope to take on the Norfolk Tides. The Twins play their parent club the Orioles at 1:05. The forecast isn’t great again, but hopefully we will have better luck!

Now, how about some links…

-I chatted with Wings catcher Eric Fryer today. This is what he had to say.

-Here’s more on Guerrier getting released and the Twins moves today.

-Make sure to check out Joe Territo’s photos from spring training here on the Wings Facebook page.

-In honor of Major League Baseball opening the season in Australia, here’s a good “Get To Know You” segment from Twins Daily with Wings Aussie infielder James Beresford

-Ever wonder who has the best eye in baseball? Wonder no more…

-It was this kind of day in the Fort 

Until tomorrow…Go Wings!

 

Josh

The Kid Has Landed

83. It’s 83 degrees in Fort Myers. Let’s get that out of the way first. I apologize if that makes anyone want to punch me more than normal. After all, I had to sweep a dusting of snow off my windshield this morning before heading to Rochester International for this annual trip to Twins/Red Wings Spring Training. Considering that, 83 feel pretty good.

Over the next few days, I’ll give you some reports from the Lee County Sports Complex as another season of Red Wings Baseball rapidly gets closer and closer. I’ll try to post a few photos too (although Joe Territo has been doing a great job of that the past several days. Check out the Wings Facebook page for some of those.) Plus, we hope to provide some audio interviews with some interesting folks.

In the meantime, how about some quick links to articles you may have missed to whet your appetite for the season to come…

-Former Red Wings shortstop Jason Bartlett is trying to make the Twins as a utility man. He may have a decision to make Tuesday if he doesn’t make the ballclub.

-The reigning IL MVP and Rookie of the Year, Chris Colabello turned down a $1 million contract in Korea to stay in the States and try to make the Twins. So far he’s having a good camp.

-Major League Baseball just opened their season in Australia. Here’s an Australian’s humorous take on it.

That’s it for now. It’s cooled off to 81 degrees since I started typing. Keep your fingers crossed for the weather here tomorrow though. There’s a chance for some rain which would interfere with my opportunity to…you know…actually see some baseball. Sounds like the Red Wings exhibition tomorrow might get pushed up a bit to foil Mother Nature.

So…until tomorrow…Go Wings!

 

-Josh

Spring Training Day Three

The Wings lost 5-4 to Pawtucket Monday afternoon at the Red Sox brand new spring training facility in Fort Myers.

Speedster Darrin Mastroianni doubled and tripled in his first two times up and scored a pair of runs each time being knocked in by Tsuyoshi Nishioka—once on a ground out and the other time on a single.  Wilkin Ramirez tripled home the Wings other two runs.

RHP P.J. Walter—a former St. Louis Cardinal—started for the Wings and allowed three runs in four innings.  Two of the runs came on a HR from Daniel Nava.  RHP Sam Deduno, who like Walters figures to be in the Wings starting rotation, suffered the loss allowing two runs in three innings.  Deduno’s stuff seems very lively, but he struggled a bit with his command today.

The Wings lost the game, but Minor League spring training games can sometimes be a little weird.  For example, a couple of innings ended before there were three outs because the Pawtucket pitcher had thrown too many pitches.  Also, Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis stayed back in Fort Myers instead of traveling with Boston to Clearwater.  He batted second in each of the first five innings for the Paw Sox and promptly banged out three hits. In fact, Youkilis was going back and forth between the Double A and Triple A game.  He probably wound up with 9-10 plate appearances today!

-New Wings hitting coach Tom Brunansky is excited to be coming to Rochester this year.  “I’m looking forward to being up in that area,” says Brunansky.  “Most of my playing career was spent on the west coast and last year with New Britain I got to see parts of New York state I had never seen outside (New York City). It was beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.” He also is a big golfer who can’t wait to take a shot at Oak Hill Country Club.

As for his hitting philosophy “Bruno” says he tries to keep it simple for his hitters and doesn’t want them thinking too much at the plate.  He preaches “good balance with good extension and follow through on the swing and then good balance again.”

Brunansky also touts former Red Wings star Merv Rettenmund as one of the hitting coaches during his career who had a very positive impact on his development.

-Outfielder Joe Benson is having a very good spring training for Minnesota but is still likely to be headed to Rochester to be the Wings centerfielder.  I enjoyed hearing Benson telling former Wings trainer and current Twins trainer Dave Pruemer his amazing story about getting robbed at gunpoint in Venezuela this winter. I have a feeling, if Benson is in Rochester, this is a story he will telling the local media about constantly.

-The Twins reassigned Australian born righty Brendan Wise to minor league camp today.  Wise has pitched in the big leagues with Detroit, and had a pretty decent spring from what I have heard.  He should be in the Wings bullpen. The Twins still have 38 players left in Major League camp so they still have a ton of decisions to make concerning their roster.  That obviously will impact the Wings roster too.

-With 38 players still left in Major League camp, it is still almost impossible to predict what the Wings roster is going to look like on Opening Day.  There still are a TON of question marks. In fact–right now—I would say about the only thing I know FOR SURE is that Tsuyoshi Nishioka will open up the season playing second base almost all the time. So much hinges on whether guys like Chris Parmalee, Brian Dozier, Sean Burroughs and Joe Benson make the Twins.  Also, the Wings catching situation is up in the air until the Twins decide what they will do behind the plate.  Do they use Ryan Doumit as Joe Mauer’s sole backup? If they keep a third catcher, will it be Drew Butera, Rene Rivera or J.R Towles?  I certainly don’t envy Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire when it comes to trying to figure out that 25 man roster.

-Still a lot of uncertainty with the pitching staff too. It sounds like Scott Diamond, P.J. Walter and Sam Deduno are pretty much locks for the starting rotation right now.  Liam Hendriks will obviously be there too if he doesn’t make the Twins.  Still much to be determined.

-Talked to Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur today and he has had both Luis Perdomo and Sam Deduno in winter ball in the past.  Both are likely headed to the Wings pitching staff, and Sauveur is a big fan of both guys.  He says Deduno has a “great curveball.” Sauveur, by the way, is one of the last lefthanded knuckleballers.

-Did you hear the A’s are going to use former Wing Grant Balfour as their closer?

-One of our favorite spots in Fort Myers is Mona Lisa Italian Restaurant. The walls are adorned with autographed pictures of professional athletes who  have Italian ancestry.  We spotted a photo of Rochester’s Mr. Baseball Joe Altobelli as well as Carmen Basilio.  I’m sure there is a Johnny Antonelli somewhere too.  Nick Sciarratta, the oldest member of the Wings front office, would love this place.

-This Marlins home run display is ridiculous.

-Louisville broadcaster Matt Andrews is a proud alum of Ohio State.  He and I will have a dinner at Uncle Ralph’s Steakout riding on this game.

It’s back to Rochester for us tomorrow.  Make sure you check out the cable listings for our upcoming Red Wings Insider on Time Warner Cable SportsNet that will feature a bunch of interviews we shot from Fort Myers. All of our spring training coverage has been presented by MINI of Rochester-opening June 1 on West Henrietta Road near Bailey Road. 

The Mini has become the most popular British car ever made, with more than 5.3

million units sold. I believe it too. I’ve seen them ALL OVER here in Fort Myers.

Check out the Wings Facebook page for some photos from today in the Fort!

Remember…the season starts April 5 in Syracuse with the home opener April 7 vs. Buffalo.  It’s almost here, and I have a feeling this is going to be some kind of season at Frontier Field!

-Josh

Spring Training Day Two

Today was a camp day for the Red Wings at the Lee County Sports Complex.  That means that the Wings played the Twins Double A affiliate New Britain.  The two teams only played seven innings and technically New Britain won the game 4-1.  Jamey Carroll, whom the Twins signed to a two year deal in the offseason, batted in each of the first 4-5 innings for the Wings.  As a veteran, he was given the opportunity to avoid the Twins cross-state trip today to Jupiter.  Former Wings infielder Alexi Casilla also avoided the Twins trip and played for New Britain.

Wings manager Gene Glynn was happy with the swings from a couple of the Minor League free agents the Twins signed this offseason…namely Steve Pearce and Matt Carson.  Both of those guys have put up some serious Triple A numbers in the past and could be big parts of the Wings lineup.  Aaron Bates also a good at bat or two for the Wings.

On the pitching side, Scott Diamond—who will back in the Wings rotation to start the season—struggled a little bit at the beginning of his stint. Anthony Slama pitched a nice inning for the Wings.  David Bromberg worked the last couple of innings and was very impressive.  You might remember Bromberg from 2010 when he started a handful of games for the Wings at the end of the season.  The big righty started last year back in Double  A and would have been the Wings at some point during the season. However, he took a line drive off his right forearm and suffered a fracture early in the season, and that really derailed his 2011 campaign.  Bromberg has lost about 30 pounds since he pitched for the Wiings in 2010 and looked terrific.  Gene Glynn had not seen Bromberg pitch before and was very impressed.  Bromberg likely will start this season back in New Britain, but—based on today’s outing—it will be interesting to see how he progresses this season.  

Speaking of the Wings new manager Gene Glynn, here are a few of his thoughts from spring training:

On his early impressions of the Twins: “It’s so organized here. It’s easy to see why they’ve been a successful organization for so long.”


What he has seen from the team this spring: 
“I really like the uptempo way the guys are going about their business. Guys are having fun and getting ready for the season.”

On new Wings hitting coach Tom Brunansky” He’s a very outgoing guy. People are going to get to know him quickly. He’s going to do a very good job.”


On his managing style: “There aren’t a lot of things better than a three run homer. But we will run and do some things to manufacture runs when we need to.  We should have some guys that can do that stuff and there is a place for players like that in the big leagues.”

Other tidbits from Fort Myers:

-Righty Kyle Gibson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, is going to throw from 90 feet for the first time tomorrow.  He is planning on throwing his first bullpen session off a mound on June 7 and is hoping to pitch in actual games sometime in early August.

-Bumped into former Wings pitcher Henry Bonilla who is beginning his first season as the Twins Gulf Coast League pitching coach.  Henry pitched for the Wings in 2004-2006 and was a valuable swingman for the Wings pitching staff.  He pitched for three years in the PCL after that for the Angels and Dodgers and–last year—actually pitched in a professional league in Italy.  I would bet that Henry winds up being an outstanding pitching coach.

-Keep hearing A LOT of good buzz about catcher Chris Herrmann.  The former Miami Hurricane hasn’t caught a ton in his pro career—he was primarily an outfielder in college—and he may actually start the season in New Britain. However, Herrmann is definitely a name for Wings/Twins fans to keep in mind. Heard someone in the Twins system saying that Herrmann has “lightning in his bat.” That is a good thing. 

-“How’d you call that one?”  Whenever I hear someone holler that at mean, I know a Cliburn is nearby.  Stu Cliburn is getting ready to begin another season as the New Britain pitching coach.

-Speaking of New Britain, it’s always great to see their radio announcer Jeff Dooley. New Britain is going through an ownership change this season.  Former Red Wings intern Ricky Ferrell is their Vice President of Ticket Operations.

-It’s also great to see longtime Red Wings bus driver/season seat holder Bob Borchard from Covered Wagon Tours.  Bob spends much of the winter in Naples and likes to stop by the Twins minor league complex to check in on the Wings.  Make sure to keep it between the lines this year Bob!

-Since getting optioned from the Twins to the Wings, Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka has looked good at the plate.  He did commit an error in the field today on a possible double play ball.  Here is a Patrick Reusse column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune concerning “Nishi.”

-The Star Tribune’s Lavelle Neal III who does a great job covering the Twins for the Star Tribune has some quick hitters on top Twins prospects here

-Sounds like Josh Willingham will be the Twins primary left fielder

The Twins host Tampa Bay again tomorrow at Hammond Stadium.  The Wings are across town taking on Pawtucket at the Boston Red Sox new facility. That means John Blotzer and I will have a busy Monday!

Make sure you check out photos from today at the Red Wings facebook page.

Also, don’t forgot all of our Spring Training coverage is presented by MINI of Rochester-opening June first on West Henrietta Road, near Bailey Road. Did you know…

U.S. dealers sold more than 57,000 MINIs in 2011, an increase of 26 percent over

2010.

We will check in tomorrow with another report from Fort Myers.  Don’t forget…the Wings Home Opener is April 7 vs. Buffalo!

-Josh

 

Wings Roll Pawtucket

Time for more coverage of Red Wings Spring Training presented by MINI of Rochester – opening June first on West Henrietta Road, near Bailey Road.

Our first day at the Twins Spring Training home—the Lee County Sports Complex—is in the books, and it has been a good day for both the Red Wings and the Twins.  The Red Wings pounded Pawtucket 9-2 on the Triple A side while the Twins are in the midst of hammering Tampa Bay 16-4 as I type this entry.

The Wings pounded out 16 hits in their victory over Pawtucket.  The top two hitters in Gene Glynn’s lineup were Darin Mastrioanni and Tsuyoshi Nishioka and each contributed three hits apiece.  Rene Tosoni and Aaron Bates each had RBI hits early in the game as the Wings pulled away for an easy win.

The pitching was excellent too.  Lefty Luke French, who has pitched in the big leagues for Detroit and Seattle, started and went 4.2 innings allowing four hits and two runs.  Former Angles reliever Jason Bulger then pitched the next 2.1 innings without much difficulty.  Another righty, Luis Perdomo, then finished up with two scoreless innings.  

New Wings manager Gene Glynn is very enthusiastic about how this year’s team is shaping up, but the roster is far from set.  The Twins still have about 35 guys in camp and some of those players will obviously filter down to the Wings.  

Some other tidbits from today:

-Justin Morneau had been struggling at the plate this spring but had a huge game for Minnesota crushing two long home runs off former IL Pitcher of the Year Jeremy Hellickson.

-Chris Parmalee is making a strong push to completely skip the Wings and make the Twins out of spring training.  He homered again today for the Twins.  The first baseman was the Twins best hitter last September after a promotion from Double A New Britain.

-Catcher J.R. Towles was impressive today for the Twins with a home run and a double high off the fence. If Towles doesn’t make the Twins as a backup for Joe Mauer, he likely will be one of the Wings catchers.

-Quote from Trevor Plouffe: “I love Rochester…but I have played my last game as a Red Wing.”  Trevor was arguably the best hitter in the IL last year during his time in Rochester last year and looks to have a utility type job locked down in spring training. Most of his time figures to come in the outfield for Minnesota.  I reminded Trevor he could always play in an injury rehab role for the Wings in the future and he said “that would actually be fun.”  Plouffe honestly has really enjoyed his time as a Wing. It’s just time for him to be a full-time big leaguers.

-Righty Luis Perdomo who finished today’s Red Wings game on the mound is not a big guy but appears to have very good stuff.

-Talked to RHP Daryl Thompson who likely will be one of the Wings starting pitchers.  I reminded him that—before making his MLB debut with the Reds in 2008—his last Triple A start was at Frontier Field.  He remembered it like yesterday and claimed he even remembered the very pitch that cost him a complete game victory.  “That’s probably one of the best games I’ve ever pitched,” he said.

-Former Red Wings hitting coach Riccardo Ingram looks GREAT.  You would never know that he was in a fight for his life in 2009 while dealing with a brain tumor.  

-Red Wings reliever Cole DeVries is quite the world traveler. Pretty much every offseason, Cole and his family take a trip to a place they have never been before.  This winter their destination was Peru!

-2011 Red Wings righty Kyle Gibson is recovering from Tommy John surgery right now but is doing everything except throwing off a mound.  He possibly could pitch for the Wings later in the year.  The former Missouri Tiger couldn’t help himself when he saw my Kansas Jayhawks hat today hollering “that is the worst hat I have EVER seen.” Kyle, sorry KU is in the Elite Eight and the Tigers got bounced in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament.  

-On the flip side, new Wings hitting coach Tom Brunansky loved my Jayhawks hat.  After all, Tom’s son is an outfielder on the Kansas baseball team.  Rock Chalk!

-LHP Aaron Thompson, who possibly was going to be with the Wings to start the season, instead will be suspended by MLB to begin the year. Here is a link to the story.

Make sure you check out  http://www.facebook.com/RocRedWings for some photos from today in Fort Myers.

Thanks again to MINI of Rochester for sponsoring this Spring Training Coverage.  

The MINI Roadster, just introduced in January, is the first convertible model

designed strictly for two people. It’s heavy on style, but light on its roof,

providing a lively ride and brilliant handling.

We will be back with more from Twins camp tomorrow.

 

Josh

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