Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sitting Sidney

Emptying the notebook from Sunday here in Fort Trafficjamburg, Fla.:

  • Starting rotation is set through the first five Grapefruit League games. No Sidney. He still hasn’t obtained the proper visa from his native Aruba. GM Terry Ryan says he’s been in contact with Ponson’s agent, and the issue should be taken care of this week. A player can’t participate in a game in which admission is charged without the proper work visa. The staff says it’s not a big deal. But this is something Ponson could have taken care of before camp. And for a guy who has a lot to prove, don’t you think he’d take care of distractions like this beforehand?

  • Oh, yeah. Here are the starters for the first five games: Matt Garza on Wednesday at Boston, Carlos Silva on Thursday at New York Yankees, Ramon Ortiz on Friday vs. Cincinnati, Boof Bonser on Saturday at Cincinnati and Johan Santana on Sunday vs. Boston.

  • Early favorite for most improved player: Jason Kubel. Pencil him in as the DH. Both knees finally seem healthy. Watched him take bp today. He’s back to smacking the ball all over the field. He crushed a homer over the fence in right field off Kevin Slowey, drawing some praise from the coaches standing around the cage. Gardy: “He looks great. He’s in great shape. He doesn’t look like he’s running on stilts. You can tell he’s not running in pain. It’s a different jog, but I haven’t seen him run all-out yet.”

  • While shooting the breeze with pitching coach Rick Anderson this afternoon, I asked him if he was alarmed by all the home runs Ortiz gives up. Andy said he wondered about that after the Twins signed Ortiz, especially after seeing that he still managed to pitch 190-plus innings in the double-switch world of the NL. So Andy did some research. He asked old/new Twin Matthew LeCroy about Ortiz. They were teammates in Washington last year. LeCroy told Andy that it’s all about the big inning with Ortiz. Andy, one of the best in the biz, figures he and Joe Mauer could help curb the problem by making extra visits to the mound to help keep Ortiz calm.

  • Yoga has become a big thing with professional athletes. Seriously, Nick Punto might look back on his career one day and cite yoga as the key to his transformation from being an oft-injured utility player to a reliable starting third baseman. Jason Bartlett and Mauer started doing it a few years ago in Mauer’s living room. “We would sit in front of his TV and his brother, Jake, would watch us as he ate Wendy’s or Arby’s,” Bartlett said.

  • GARDY-ISM OF THE DAY: In talking about the reason why Luis Castillo seemed unfocused during the morning infield drill after having a physical: “I think when the doctor checked for a hernia, it totally flabbergasted him.” Money.

  • Rule 5er Alejandro Machado can do a lot of things. But bunting isn't one of them, as the field staff found out during drills Sunday. It's an essential task for the bench role the speedy switch-hitting SS/2B/3B/RF/LF is projected to fill. (Machado tells me he also can play CF.) Gardy says Hall of Famer and special spring training instructor Rod Carew will work on getting Machado's bunting skills up to snuff during camp.

  • Reliever Dennys Reyes is scheduled to leave camp this afternoon to travel to Phoenix to be with his wife, Claudia, who is due to give birth to the couple’s third child on Tuesday. Reyes said he plans to rejoin the team on Friday. “Big Sweat” is one of the good guys, and here’s hoping everything goes smoothly and for a healthy baby girl.

  • Rondell White reports he is down eight pounds from the end of last season. He weighs 224 and wants to drop four more pounds before the season starts. The guy is absolutely ripped. Says it was the hardest he’d ever worked during the offseason. Entering his 15th season, he’s bent on proving that his career’s not over.

  • Twins have released their promotional TV commercials on the team's official Web site, Good stuff.