Spring Training Report: Game Twenty-Three
1.) Boof Bonser was solid if unspectacular tonight, going 4 innings and and giving up 2 ER's on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. That's more than sufficient to keep him in line to make the rotation (and there never should have been any question about that). Scott Baker also got a chance to pitch tonight, but was only allowed to go 1 inning. While he did fine, giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 2, the fact that he only went 1 inning makes it very clear that he is not going to make the Twins rotation. In fact, it might be tough for him to build up the arm strength necessary to pitch more than 4 or 5 innings in his starts for Rochester when the season starts.
2.) Mike Venafro got another solid inning of work in tonight, giving up just 1 hit. I've made it quite clear that my preference is for the Twins to keep J.D. Durbin on the roster, and I'm going to reiterate that position here shortly. However, the Twins appear to still be undecided; I can't think of any other reason to send Randy Choate to the minor league camp. I assume the Twins are thinking that if Venafro makes the team, there will be an opening for Choate in Rochester, so why not keep him around and see what happens? While the Twins might be hesitating on Durbin, I wouldn't be. First, he's worth more long term than Venafro is for the Twins. Durbin could still turn into a solid player down the road for the Twins, while Venafro seems like more of a one year rental. Further, with the Twins starting rotation, having a guy like Durbin who could go 3 or 4 innings as needed is an advantage. Matt Guerrier can do a bit of that, but it would be nice to have another option. We'll see what the Twins end up deciding, but I legitimately think this is up in the air at this point.
3.) I always report when he has a bad day, so equal time tonight for Matt LeCroy, who went 2-for-4 and didn't strike out. Maybe if it had been against a team other than Tampa, I'd be more impressed . . .
4.) Josh Rabe is doing his darndest to force his way into the 25th man competition, going 2-for-5 tonight. I was mystified when the Twins took Rabe off the 40-man roster, and think he has a future at the Major League level. However, as I mentioned above I prefer to keep Durbin on the roster to avoid losing him. There are no such concerns with Rabe. By the end of the year, though, I would be very surprised if he weren't back on the 40-man roster.
5.) Trent Oeltjen, Doug Deeds, Matt Tolbert, Yohan Pino, and Angel Garcia all got into the game today. At this point in the Spring, it's not unusual for traveling teams to be filled out with minor leaguers so that the big names don't have to take the bus trip. Pino did the best, pitching a perfect inning of relief. Garcia was the worst, taking the loss in the 10th inning after giving up 2 runs and not recording an out.
Today's Big Winner: Josh Rabe (2-for-5; making a case for being on the roster)
Runner-Up: Matt LeCroy (2-for-4; trying to show he can still play)
Today's Big Loser: Angel Garcia (this isn't really fair . . . he isn't even officially in camp)
Runner-Up: Mike Redmond (0-3 with a K; .167 for the spring)