March 28, 2024

Twins break camp at 9-19. Are you worried?

The Twins wrapped up Grapefruit League play with a 9-6 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, which is fine as far that goes, but the overall poor play that produced a 9-19 record, plus a growing injury list, has this Twins fan in a glass-half-empty kind of mood as they get set to play Game 1 of the 2024 regular season at Kansas City.

The 9-19 spring training record was the worst for the Twins since at least 2006, and although several players (Brooks Lee and Griffin Jax among them) had a decent camp, several regulars really struggled.

At the bottom of the list: Manuel Margot, who hit .105 with just four hits in 38 at bats. Following him, Matt Wallner, who hit .132 with five hits in the same number of at bats, and Max Kepler, who connected only six times in 39 at bats to hit .154. Nobody wants to wait around until August for Kepler to get hot.

Starting pitcher Louie Varland had a great spring until his final two starts. He got the nod on Tuesday, and although the Twins won, Varland did not figure in the decision because he allowed six runs on seven hits, including two dingers, across five innings with five strikeouts.

Still, Varland has apparently been tapped to fill the vacancy created by the injured Anthony DeSclafani, who came over in the trade that sent Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners.

Polanco, by the way, set the Cactus League on fire. He slashed .419/.490/.744 with 18 hits, three home runs and 17 RBI. How do you like him now, Minnesota?

The benefits of that trade are quickly falling apart because not only is DeSclafani on the injured list, but reliever Justin Topa, who also was part of the Polanco deal, has joined him. And don’t forget that Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar and closer Jhoan Duran are starting the regular season on the IL as well.

Extra innings…

-During Grapefruit League play the Twins scored the third fewest runs (122) and allowed the second most at 166. They were 8-5 at home, but a dismal 1-14 on the road.

-It all begins Thursday. Pablo Lopez gets the ball.

-In 2023, the Twins started the regular season at 4-0. They went 16-12 in April. They had losing records in May and June, then produced winning records for July, August and September, including 18-10 down the stretch.

Here’s how they started the regular season in previous seasons:

-2022: 0-2; 12-9 in April.

-2021: 0-1; 9-15 in April.

-2020: 1-0; 5-2 in July (the pandemic shortened season).

-2019: 1-0; 17-10 in March and April. And that team never looked back, cruising to a record of 101-61.

Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com

COMMENTS

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.