March 7, 2016

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Twins after the first week of Spring Training

The first week of Spring Training is in the books — the Twins started play on Wednesday — and the Twins finished the week with a 3-1-1 record. Not that Spring Training records mean a hoot, but as a fan I’m encouraged by any signs of a potentially winning regular season.

Here’s what I noticed:

-Byung Ho Park: Park, who hit 53 home runs in South Korea last year and was the Twins only major signing of the offseason, can hit after all. He struck out three times in his Spring Training debut, then followed that with a hit on Thursday and a grand slam on Sunday. He now leads the team in spring RBIs with five. You are allowed to exhale, Twins fans.

-Miguel Sano: It appears top-rated prospect Sano, who hit 18 home runs last season in 80 games, won’t see the same pitches as last year. He walked twice in his debut, followed by a hit and three strikeouts the remainder of the week. Pitchers are scouting you, Sano. Time to scout them.

-Jose Berrios: Top-rated pitching prospect Berrios, perhaps like Park, likely was a tad nervous in his debut this week, walking three batters in one-and-a-third innings pitched. Still, it was a scoreless effort, including one strikeout.

-Twins starting pitching: It was sharp the first week, getting scoreless debuts from Phil Hughes, Trevor May (if he becomes a starter again), Tyler Duffey and Kyle Gibson. Tommy Milone gave up one run but still struck out three batters in two innings, and Ervin Santana gave up two runs (both unearned) in two innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

-Ricky Nolasco: Don’t lose that number, Ricky, because you just might need it. Nolasco probably had the worst debut this week after he surrendered four hits, three earned runs and one walk in an inning-and-a-third against the Red Sox. He exited the game with a 20.25 ERA.

-The bullpen: There was a lot of talk in the offseason about how the Twins needed to make a move to shore up the relief corps, preferably with another lefty. After the week some of them had, General Manager Terry Ryan might be working the phones for a solution. The bullpen surrendered four runs on Wednesday; gave up three runs on Thursday; had the blown save on Friday; produced a scoreless effort on Saturday; and nearly coughed up the game on Sunday with three runs in the ninth.

-Free swinging: The Twins are working off that winter rust by swinging and missing a lot of pitches. Through the first five games of Spring Training, the Twins have struck out 37 times, including 11 on Wednesday and 12 on Sunday.


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.