This was a great week to be a Twins' starting pitcher, and a bad week to face the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twins starting pitchers threw a total of 21 innings this week, working between three and four innings as they begin to stretch out, but gave up just one run. Kevin Slowey continued his strong start to the spring and has yet to give up a run since coming to camp.
The other particularly bright spot was Francisco Liriano
While his Dominican teammates were suffering the biggest loss of the World Baseball Classic to date, Liriano was having a fairly stress-free week in Florida.
The left-hander skipped the WBC to prepare himself to pitch a full major league season, something he has yet to do in his career, and so far, that looks to be a wise decision.
Liriano pitched twice this week giving up no runs and just two hits in seven innings of work against the Pirates and Orioles. His second outing was a perfect four innings with five strikeouts and six groundball outs out of 12 batters he faced.
Time will tell if Liriano's devotion to the team proves to produce the full season of results he hopes it will.
Offensively, the Twins struggled at times this week, posting a total of two runs in two games against the Pirates, losing the first 2-1 and the second 10-1.
Particularly disappointing was Denard Span, last season's camp hero, who posted a 1-for-12 line this week and dropped his batting average down a .111. If Span continues to stumble, he'll be the odd-man out of the Twins' outfield crew.
Carlos Gomez went 4-for-10 this week with a double and a home run, Michael Cuddyer had two outfield assists in one game and went 3-for-12 with a triple, and Delmon Young went 2-for-10, a far cry from last week's offensive outburst, but still better than Span.
Reports are that Gomez has shortened his swing, which would be a key first step in becoming the productive lead off hitter the Twins want him to be. Still, he appears to be short of that mark right now, which makes it all the more critical that Denard Span finds his offensive stroke before the season starts.
At third base, Danny Valencia slipped offensively this week though he did show good defensive instincts on a few close plays early in the week, which is just as important as a good offensive showing.
Brian Buscher has seen his time split between third base and first base now that Justin Morneau is gone. He, too, slumped this week with a paltry 2-for-7. Worst of all, that's the best any of the Twins possible third basemen did.
Joe Crede is still waiting for his first Grapefruit League hit. He did have an RBI double in an exhibition against Puerto Rico, but that doesn't count for spring training stats. Irrespective, one hit a week is far below what the Twins want out of their offseason prize.
Crede is still working back to full-time, so any judgements made on a week and a half's worth of work would be daft at best and disingenuous at worst.
So, I'll pass for now and leave the third base saga with this: If Buscher continues to outplay Crede by a substantial margin offensively, get ready for a chorus of voices shouting "We never wanted him anyway". Most of those people will be lying.
This week is another full week for the Twins, who will spend most of the week away from their home in Ft. Myers.
With the first round of cuts close at hand, keep an eye on players like Dustin Martin who won't make the team, but have played well so far in camp. They'll likely get extra playing time as the coaching staff tries to assess if they will be able to help the team as a call-up this year or if they need more time in the lower minors.
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