Not only did Torii Hunter miraculously escape yesterday afternoon's potentially serious beaning with little more than a busted lip, he returned from a trip to the hospital to provide some amusing quotes afterward:
It was so much pain, I thought all my teeth were out. I thought my jaw was broken, I thought my nose was bleeding, I thought everything. I'm thinking about all this while I'm on the ground. Now, he just messed up my pretty face, you know what I'm saying? I look good today, and now I can't go anywhere. I can't go eat.
One of my teeth is a little loose. I think it's a little sensitive. I think it's going to be fine. They just stitched me up, they gave me three or four stitches. It hurts. The novocaine shot, that was pretty good actually.
A few innings after Zack Greinke's pitch hit Hunter, radio announcers Dan Gladden and Jack Morris had a discussion about how it'd be a shame if any of Hunter's teeth were knocked out. The reason? Because, as Gladden explained, he went through the trouble of wearing braces as an adult.
Hunter's rough day in pictures (click here for a bigger version):
(From left to right: Charging the mound, down on the ground, elephant man.)
Ron Gardenhire's recent interview with the Kane County Chronicle focused mostly on bowling, milk, and Jesse Ventura, with few serious moments to be found, but it did contain a couple interesting exchanges. Asked "which ballplayer of today reminds you of yourself as a major leaguer," Gardenhire responded with a familiar name:
A futility infielder? Right now, it's my son. He swings at sliders in the dirt just like I did. Toby Gardenhire, he's 24 playing in A-ball for the Twins.
If you're curious, Toby Gardenhire played at the University of Illinois, was taken by the Twins in the 41st round of the 2005 draft, and hit .198 at Single-A Beloit last season. Asked whether or not he did any partying with Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden when they were all teammates on the 1985 Mets, Gardenhire said:
None, whatsoever. But they were two very, very quality young men when I was there. They were rookies coming into the league, and I honestly thought the world of them. I thought they were super guys--and I know they went through some stuff. But I had a chance to be with them early and they were pretty special people. They still are. They've struggled and went through a lot of stuff in their lives, but they're good people.
Honestly I think they are something we should all learn from. No matter how big you become, reality is going to set in someday and you have to watch yourself and take care of yourself. I think they're good stories because they're on the path to healing and getting better. I think it's a good story for everyone to learn from.
The '85 Mets won 98 games, led by a 20-year-old Gooden going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA while winning the Cy Young Award with one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time and a 23-year-old Strawberry hitting .277/.389/.557 to rank seventh among NL hitters in OPS. Playing in what would be his final big-league season, a 27-year-old Gardenhire hit .179 in 39 at-bats.
Remember how longtime Timberwolves beat writer Steve Ashburner accepted a buyout from the Minneapolis Star Tribune? Well, it looks like Ashburner wants his job back.
Pat Neshek's interview with ESPN.com earlier this week is a fantastic read and contains interesting stuff about blogging, collecting autographs, throwing sidearm, and using stats to become a better pitcher. If he isn't already, the interview should help Neshek become one of your favorite players.
With regular "Fantasy Fix" co-host Gregg Rosenthal getting married next week, it sounds like I'll be stepping in to co-host the shows with Tiffany. I don't exactly have visions of being Lou Gehrig to Gregg's Wally Pipp, but it should be interesting.
AG.com's No. 5 Twins prospect, Anthony Swarzak, has been suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy. Friend of AG.com Tim Kolehmainen, who cover's Swarzak's Double-A New Britain team for the Meriden Record-Journal, has all the details on his blog.
When he played left field for the Twins, I once described Shannon Stewart's fly-ball tracking as "Mr. Magoo-like," so I was shocked to see what position he played during the final inning of Wednesday's A's-Mariners game. On the other hand, I'm far from shocked to learn that his bat remains as punchless as it was during his final two seasons in Minnesota, with Stewart sporting a .239/.287/.352 hitting line through 21 games. Apparently all those spring-training puff pieces were just a tad premature.
Fortune magazine recently named "blogger" as one of "50 bulls**t jobs." The write-up is a little harsh and I'd argue that any blogger doing enough blogging to turn it into an actual job is working pretty damn hard. With that said, including it on the list makes a whole lot more sense than People magazine handing Drew Barrymorethe No. 1 spot on their annual "100 Most Beautiful People" list.
Random music recommendation from a guy who admits publicly to liking John Mayer: Paolo Nutini
Gardenhire has spent years seemingly living in constant fear of what would happen if an injury struck while both Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond were in the lineup together. Meanwhile, the A's are so comfortable with the same scenario that has Gardenhire frightened that they've demoted backup catcher Adam Melhuse to Triple-A, leaving everyday DH Mike Piazza as the team's second backstop. In other words, the A's plan to "risk" Gardenhire's nightmare scenario during every game.
I'm working on a whole bunch of stuff for the upcoming Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide, which means much of my weekend will be spent watching the NFL draft (the informative NFL Network version, not the annoying ESPN version). With the Vikings picking seventh overall, here's my ranking of who I'd like to see them end up with in the first round:
1. Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech 2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma 3. JaMarcus Russell, QB, Louisiana State 4. Joe Thomas, LT, Wisconsin 5. LaRon Landry, SS, Louisiana State 6. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame 7. Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
No. 7 is way too early to take him, but I'd love to see the Vikings end up with USC wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett in the second round.
Woke up cold one Tuesday I'm looking tired and feeling quite sick I felt like there was something missing in my day-to-day life So I quickly opened the wardrobe Pulled out some jeans and a t-shirt that seemed clean Topped it off with a pair of old shoes that were ripped around the seams
And I thought these shoes just don't suit me Hey, I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything's right I said hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling
I'm still too short on time to write a whole lot today and I'm now too frustrated with the Twins' losing streak (along with Johan Santana's back-to-back losses at the Metrodome) to do a typical, notes-style game recap, so let's try something a little different in the form of reader participation. Sidney Ponson will make his fourth start of the season tonight against the Royals after going 1-2 with a 9.39 ERA in his first three starts.
I've used this space to argue that Ponson hasn't pitched as poorly as his hideous ERA suggests, but at the end of the day he's allowed 16 runs in 15.1 innings and opponents have hit .389/.450/.667 in 80 plate appearances. Asked earlier this week about Ponson, Terry Ryansaid, "We're getting close to the point where we need to see more progress." When combined with Ponson's horrible numbers, that statement makes me think that a poor fourth outing could signal the end of his time in the rotation.
Obviously, the first question is "should Ponson be yanked from the rotation if he fails to turn in a solid start against the Royals tonight?" If you answered "no" to that, then the next question is "exactly how long of a leash should he get?" If you instead answered "yes" to that, then the next question is "who should replace him?" Assuming that moving Matt Guerrier out the bullpen is off limits, there are seemingly four possible answers. Here's what they've each done thus far at Triple-A:
W L ERA IP SO BB OAVG Kevin Slowey 3 0 0.96 18.2 20 1 .134 Glen Perkins 0 0 1.50 6.0 2 1 .105 Scott Baker 1 0 1.69 16.0 16 3 .196 Matt Garza 0 1 2.77 13.0 12 9 .278
I've been very wrong about Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Silva thus far, but Rochester's rotation has been every bit as great as I expected it to be. Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Scott Baker have combined to go 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 50-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 53.2 innings (Perkins has just one start because he was called up to pitch out of the Twins' bullpen). For those of you who think that Ponson should be leaving the rotation, who should replace him?
A few weeks ago I would have said Garza without thinking twice, but given his troubling neck problems and less-than-dominant numbers at Triple-A that's no longer such a no-brainer. Perkins is already in Minnesota, but hasn't pitched particularly well as a reliever. Slowey has been the most impressive of the bunch at Rochester, but he's the only member of the foursome without any big-league experience. Baker has the most major-league experience and has been nearly as impressive as Slowey.
I'd lean toward yanking Ponson from the rotation if he struggles against the Royals tonight and I'd go with Baker as his immediate replacement, but I'm sure there are arguments to be made for just about every possible scenario. What say you?
Note: I'm still recovering from a busy weekend that included riding in a 15-person stretch limousine and eating a $125 "silver butter knife steak" at Murray's in downtown Minneapolis--trust me, the whole thing sounds more intriguing if I leave out some details--and last night's game was particularly tough to watch. All of which is why yesterday's entry was non-existent, while today's entry is short on words and long on frustration. Sorry.
Joe Nathan has been arguably the single best reliever in all of baseball since coming to Minnesota in 2004, going 16-7 with a 2.01 ERA, 129 saves, a 285-to-63 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .180 opponent's batting average in 219 innings. Coming into last night's game, he had thrown a grand total of 16 pitches over the previous 90 hours, with all of them coming Saturday when he struck out the side against the Royals.
Last night's game against the Indians took place at the Metrodome and went 12 innings, with no save chance to be had at any point after the eighth inning. Given all of that information--a well rested, elite reliever with no save opportunity to be held back for in a home game--when would you expect Nathan to have entered? I'm not sure how you answered that question, but Ron Gardenhire's answer was to keep Nathan in the bullpen until the Twins were trailing by multiple runs in the 12th inning.
Five relievers took the mound before the team's closer, with Nathan finally coming in only after the Twins' chances of winning were at the lowest point of the game. Call me crazy, but that seems like the exact opposite of how a closer should be used. Now, that's not necessarily why the Twins lost, because prior to Jesse Crain the bullpen pitched very well while Nathan looked on and the offense certainly blew plenty of chances to end things with one measly run.
With that said, it's moves like Nathan's usage last night--involving making decisions based on meaningless labels and misguided stubbornness rather than intelligent strategy and smart tactics--that gnaw at me when the Twins lose winnable games. Win or lose, to play a 12-inning game at home without using your fully rested closer in a high-leverage situation is simply bad managing. Nathan should have been given a chance to win or lose the game before Crain lost it. That's his job.