February 22, 2005

Spring Has Sprung

Similar to that nonsense with the groundhog and his shadow, Luis Rivas has watched the first ground ball of the year bounce just past his outstretched glove, and so despite it still being below freezing here in lovely, snow-covered Minnesota, we know spring is officially upon us.

In other, less surprising Twins news ...

Joe Mauer came away from his first workout of the spring feeling good, which means his knee has passed the first test. Only a couple hundred more aced tests and he will have had himself a healthy season. And yes, that's me being unnecessarily pessimistic, as usual. According to Mauer himself, "It was a good first day."

On the other hand, Grant Balfour and Justin Morneau aren't feeling quite as good. Balfour, who missed time last season with shoulder problems, has what is being called a "tender right forearm." Meanwhile, Morneau apparently had an awful winter. According to Ron Gardenhire, Morneau had chicken pox, appendicitis, and a lung infection that led to pneumonia, all since the Twins were knocked out of the playoffs by the Yankees. And here I thought I had a rough winter because my favorite team signed Juan Castro.

La Velle E. Neal reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Morneau "was too sick to travel" when the Twins asked him to show up to camp early and still hasn't arrived. It is obviously better to have these problems in late February, rather than late March, but the Twins need Morneau to have a big season and hearing that a 6'4", power-hitting first baseman is "too sick to travel" after ordering one of everything from the sickness menu during the offseason ... well, it doesn't exactly match the first few pages of the script I had in mind for Morneau's first full season.

In other news, Rivas is completely healthy and got to camp nice and early.

The Twins will likely open the season with an 11-man pitching staff and every spot has already been reserved. This is good news, as 11 pitchers is more than enough, particularly during the first month of the season. Plus, they apparently won't need a fifth starting pitcher until a few weeks into the year, which in addition to giving more starts to the front four guys, should give Joe Mays a little extra time to work himself back into shape.

And finally ... Twins GM Terry Ryan will be doing an online chat at TwinsBaseball.com this afternoon, starting at 1:30 Central time. I'll be heading to class around then, but brave souls with nothing better to do should ask him something challenging and hope he answers it.

Perhaps something like: "On a scale of 1-10, exactly how stupid would someone have to have been to heavily criticize the Shannon Stewart-for-Bobby Kielty deal?" Or maybe: "How many years have you agreed to keep Rivas around for in order for him to destroy those compromising pictures he has of you?"

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Larkin for the Hall? (by Aaron Gleeman)

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