Spring Training Quick Hits: March 17

In this edition, Jason Kubel turns some heads, Jesse Crain is in mid-season form, and Brad Radke talks about what it is like to be "old".

Why does an 11-year veteran who is among the team career leaders in almost every pitching category and has talked openly about retiring after this season spend spring training working on a new pitch?

"Because I'm getting old," right-hander Brad Radke said. "I can't go out there with the same slop every five days."

Actually, it's not so much a new pitch as a new way of using his cut fastball, throwing it more often against lefties. It's still a work in progress, but Radke, who needed a hefty 64 pitches to get through three innings against Boston on Thursday, said he plans to stick with it into the season.

He gave up two runs on six hits in the 4-3 split-squad loss to the Red Sox, lowering his spring ERA to 6.75. Radke is scheduled to make his next start Monday on the minor league side of camp. The plan is to taper back to between 50 and 60 pitches in that start, then come back with an extra day's rest in his next start and go up to 70 pitches, putting him on track for his first start of the season, April 5 in Toronto.


  • Clubhouse ringleaders LHP Johan Santana and RHP Carlos Silva have returned to Fort Myers, Fla., following Venezuela's elimination Tuesday from the World Baseball Classic. Silva, the team's No. 3 starting pitcher behind ace Santana and RHP Brad Radke, was in the clubhouse Thursday morning before a split-squad group headed across town to play the Red Sox. "It's going to get pretty loud in there now," Radke said.

  • RHP Jesse Crain continued to look in midseason shape, pitching two more scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Thursday, striking out three and allowing just two singles and no walks. In two appearances since returning from a scoreless World Baseball Classic performance, Crain has three shutout innings without a walk.

  • RHP Matt Garza, the Twins' top draft pick last year, was reassigned to minor league camp Thursday, the day after making a two-inning start in which he shut out Pittsburgh on one hit. He finished his big-league camp with a 1.23 ERA in four appearances (7 1/3 innings).

  • 1B Justin Morneau is another World Baseball Classic graduate who returned from Team Canada's elimination on fire. He went 3-for-4 against Cleveland in a split-squad victory Thursday, hitting an opposite-field double off LHP Cliff Lee and a three-run homer. He's hitting .545 (6-for-11) since returning from a .308 performance in the WBC.

  • OF Jason Kubel, a long shot candidate for the Opening Day right field job, went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs Thursday against Cleveland, raising his spring average to .308 and raising eyebrows. "That second base hit he got with a man on third, I said right way, 'This young man is going to really, really make this thing interesting as we go along this spring,'" manager Ron Gardenhire said.
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