Right-hander Kyle Lohse
is quietly putting together one of the best
spring trainings of his career and one of the best among pitchers in camp
The Twins' No. 4 starter, who won a $3.95 million salary in arbitration
last month, pitched five shutout innings Thursday against the potent Red
Sox, allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out two.
"Watching the way he's throwing the ball, he's backed off and pitched,
not thrown," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "He's more letting the
pitches work for him and letting the ball move for him and locating."
Lohse, who was 9-13 each of the past two seasons and has struggled with
inconsistency throughout his career, improved to 3-0 this spring and lowered
his ERA to 2.12 in five starts. He has walked only two batters in 17
NOTES, QUOTES:RHP Juan Rincon, after a successful bullpen session Wednesday, is
scheduled to face live hitters in batting practice both Friday and Sunday in
anticipation of his first exhibition-game appearance next week. If he can
get two or three appearances in games, it's expected he can avoid opening
the season on the disabled list. Rincon, the team's top setup reliever, has
been hampered all spring by soreness in the muscles surrounding his pitching
elbow. He had bone chips removed from the elbow over the winter.OF Michael Cuddyer is trying to be optimistic that he can return from
his oblique strain in time to be ready for the season opener, but the Twins
are not going to rush his return to the lineup. Cuddyer, who likely would be
the Opening Day right fielder if healthy, was hitting .500 this spring when
he hurt the ribcage muscle Monday. "It is frustrating because I've been
feeling good at the plate and it's getting closer to the start of the
season," Cuddyer said. "We only have (10) games left (this spring). It's
frustrating, but you can't do anything about it but just try to get back to
full strength."1B Justin Morneau is one of several players recently to try shaded
contact lenses that act essentially as sunglasses. His contacts make his
eyes look red, and he seems to be comfortable wearing them regularly in
games. C Joe Mauer experimented with some similar, yellow-tinted contacts
last year but didn't use them in games. "It's just like wearing sunglasses,"
Morneau said. "It cuts down on the glare."INF Luis Rodriguez, who went 2-for-4 with a big RBI single late in
Thursday's 4-3 victory over Boston, has impressed manager Ron Gardenhire in
camp this spring, despite an apparent numbers game working against him
making the Opening Day roster. The oblique injury to OF Michael Cuddyer and
the quadriceps injury to PH/OF Ruben Sierra could provide enough wiggle room
on the roster to open a sliver of a shot for Rodriguez. "Like I've said all
along, I'm really going to try to find a way to keep Luis Rodriguez on the
ballclub," Gardenhire said.LHP Darrell May, who earlier this spring looked like a safe bet to win
a job in the bullpen, had another poor showing Thursday. He pitched the
eighth inning against Boston and allowed a hard single to CF Coco Crisp and
a home run to INF Mark Loretta, boosting his spring ERA to 6.75. If May and
LHP Dennys Reyes continue to struggle, it only figures to intensify the
debate over whether to keep rookie LHP Francisco Liriano in the big-league
bullpen instead of sending him to the minors to start every fifth day if he
doesn't win a rotation spot out of camp.
In our latest edition of Spring Training Quick Hits, Kyle Lohse looks like a new man, Michael Cuddyer continues to rehab, Darrell May could be the odd man out, and much more.
An inside look at Twins camp.
Lohse looks like a new pitcher this spring.