Minnesota Twins Showing Some Signs of Life

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There is nothing that a Twins fan dreads more than seeing the New York Yankees on their upcoming schedule. The same can be said of the faithful of the Chicago White Sox regarding the Twins. Some match-ups provide distinct advantages to a certain side even when there doesn’t seem to be a drastic disparity in talent between the two. It demonstrates the importance of the mental aspect of the game.

Heading into play on Saturday, Minnesota had won a half dozen in a row this season and nine in a row total going back to last year against the White Sox.

It had crossed my mind that starting pitcher Scott Baker would have been a better All Star selection, but the versatility of Michael Cuddyer must have been appealing to the coaching staff.

The selection has apparently rejuvenated him because his batting average is now approaching .300. Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka has increased his comfort level with the team and country as well, providing a needed boost in his offensive production. Catcher and first baseman Joe Mauer has even started to come around at the plate.

All of the discussion of his position has brought back not so fond memories of the Alfonso Soriano situation. I have always been of the mind that a player should play wherever the manager puts him in the order and be thankful for the position. Unless it specifically says a specific position in the contract, the athlete is still the subordinate of the coaching staff no matter what the bank statements show.

The team is actually fortunate to have its current position in the standings considering the extent to which they have been decimated by injuries. About half of their line-up on any given night has been filled with reserves and temporary solutions. This not only demonstrates the quality of Ron Gardenhire, but it also proves the talent in the farm system. Many of the inexperienced players like Luke Hughes and Ben Revere are not to the level of their predecessors, but this comes as no surprise. If they were, then they would have started out the season in those positions.

There is some concern over the last few starts of right-hander Nick Blackburn. The beating he took against the Dodgers in the fifteen run debacle might have left him shell shocked. When he leaves the ball elevated in the zone, it is a recipe for disaster. Carl Pavano continues to be an inning eater and consistent force in the rotation. The aforementioned Scott Baker suffered a right flexor muscle strain during his abbreviated start last Tuesday. The team must be breathing a sigh of relief that the All Star Break is when it is.

It is true that every club in Major League Baseball has experience with breaks and bruises, but you would be hard pressed to find anything close to what has occurred in Minnesota. The closer situation has been precarious lately. General Manager Bill Smith must not have been paying attention when I called for a trade of Joe Nathan or Matt Capps early in the season.

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