When I visited Hammond Stadium on Friday it was position player reporting day but a large contingent of the Twins position players were already on hand and going through some early work on their own. The real work started this morning. I took a number of pictures as I do every time I visit and posted them in my 2014 Spring Training link. I didn’t really see anything unusual and the highlight of my day was spending a few minutes after practice talking with Twins Hall of Fame member Eddie Guardado. Eddie looks the same as I remember him as an active player when he charged out to the mound and slammed the rosin bag to the turf before he took the mound to close out another Twins win. After spending some time talking with Eddie, I don’t know if there is a more humble former Twins player out there. I really enjoyed my short chat with “Every Day Eddie” and I hope I can set up a longer interview with him down the line.
After practice was over I wandered back to the minor league fields and complex to see what was happening back there. Some of the Twins major league players also spend time in the minor league complex working out or doing what ever they have to do back there. It was about 11:30 A.M. and most of the autograph seekers were gone and there was just two guys standing there waiting for autographs. I asked them who they were waiting for and they said they were waiting for closer Glen Perkins. I kind of laughed and wished them luck because Perkins has a reputation as one of the toughest Twins to get an autograph from. They were well aware of that since they had a couple of balls with all the others Twins autographs and they were just missing Perkins. We chatted for a while and I left to walk back over to the big league side. About 15 minutes later I saw both of the autograph seekers walking in my direction so I walked up to them and asked them if they finally got Perkins signature. “Hell no”, they said, the p&%k peeked out the door a couple of times to see if we were still there and then finally left quickly with a towel over his head. These guys were not happy and I don’t know if Perkins had seen them out there getting autographs day after day or what but these two guys were pretty disgusted. I know that players get mad when the same people get autographs day after day and sell them and make a few bucks but what is the big deal? If somebody makes a few dollars off a players signature is that really such a bad thing? Players like Perkins make plenty of money so why should they begrudge if someone sells his autograph for a few dollars. No one gets hurt and the economy keeps chugging along, it’s the American way. Here we have two guys that are upset because they didn’t get an autograph and Perkins further cements his reputation with some Twins fans as a greedy and sometimes surly egomaniac. I sure wish I would have been around to get a picture of Glen Perkins sneaking out with a towel over his head, I could have had some real fun with that.
Everybody is bemoaning the lack of strikeouts by the Twins starting pitchers. The last Twins pitcher to strike out at least 200 batters in a season was in 2010 when Francisco Liriano struck out 201 batters and since then no Twins starter has struck out more than 123 (Scott Baker in 2011) batters. In 2013 Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey tied for the strikeout lead on the club with 101. Those are pathetic numbers indeed. In the Minnesota Twins 53 year history there have been only seven Twins pitchers that have struck out 200 or more batters in a single season and between them they have done it a total of 20 times. Can you name those seven pitchers? I already told you who four of them are.
But here is an interesting “did you know that?” fact. Did you know that the 1967 Minnesota Twins were the first team in major league history to have three pitchers on their staff to record 200 or more strikeouts in a single season. In 1967 Dean Chance had 220, Jim Kaat had 211 and Dave Boswell had 204? Since then it was matched by the National League 1969 Houston Astros Don Wilson with 235, Larry Dierker with 222, and Tom Griffin with 200. The 2013 Detroit Tigers joined this list when Max Scherzer had 240, Justin Verlander had 217, and Anibal Sanchez had 202. I wonder if the Tigers can be the first team to do it in back-to-back seasons? It is tough to do once much less twice.