Live from Florida, Day 5: Reliever Anthony Slama adds a cutter
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Monday at Minnesota Twins spring training:
Catching up with ... Anthony Slama
Right-hander Anthony Slama has been one of the Twins' best minor-league relief pitchers over the past four seasons, posting a 1.95 ERA and 345 strikeouts to just 106 walks in 249 innings across four levels.
His call-up to the big leagues in July, however, didn't go quite as well as he'd hoped. Slama allowed four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking five and giving up six hits.
He was sent back to Triple-A Rochester and did not reappear as a September call-up.
Slama said he was told to work primarily on two things in his attempted transition from minor-league dominance to major-league employment: holding runners at first base and consistency in the strike zone.
"I think attacking hitters is what I lacked in the majors, and that's kind of a mental thing," Slama said Monday as he relaxed in the clubhouse after morning workouts, "but it's kind of a physical thing also, just getting on top of the ball and slowing myself down."
He added, "Sometimes when you get up there you're trying to do too much. The game kind of goes too fast for you, so you've got to slow it down mentally, which slows down the running game."
Slama, 27, said he started working on a cut fastball near the end of last season as well, which he hopes to add to a repertoire that currently includes a fastball, changeup and slider.
"That'll be a good pitch for me," Slama said. "I kind of struggled a little bit against lefties. The changeup is a bit of a take pitch for them because they see it early. And typically it'll kind of dive away from them. That's what I'm trying to get groundballs on, and a changeup isn't really a groundball pitch. So I'm hoping a cutter will kind of offset that and give me something to move in the other direction so that the changeup will be nastier."
Add Slama to the large group of relievers competing for a small handful of big-league bullpen slots this spring.
5.3: Number of "wins above replacement" (WAR) Justin Morneau was worth in 2010 despite missing the entire second half of the season. Morneau was hitting .345/.437/.618 with 18 home runs, likely putting him on pace for a second career MVP award.
5: Number of consecutive seasons Morneau has increased his walk rate -- from 8% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2010.
• 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) arrived to Hammond Stadium for the first time this spring. Morneau has been cleared to participate in all workout activities with his teammates, but he has not yet been cleared to play in games. The former MVP -- who admitted he is not yet 100% -- will likely miss at least the first week of exhibition games.
• LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) played catch from 120 feet on Sunday, and he is likely to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday or Wednesday.
• RHP Scott Baker (elbow) threw a bullpen session Monday. According to manager Ron Gardenhire, Baker still feels some slight discomfort when throwing his changeup, but the issue is not considered serious.
"You can't draw walks in the cage."
-- Michael Cuddyer to Danny Valencia, who elected not to swing at a high pitch during a batting cage session. Valencia, Cuddyer, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel were attempting to hit home runs over the center-field batter's eye on one of the far practice fields.
Pitchers and catchers will continue working out on Tuesday with full-squad workouts commencing on Wednesday.