Notebook: GM Terry Ryan not pleased with how White Sox series ended
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For a while in June it looked as if the Minnesota Twins were starting to turn things around after dropping a season-low 17 games below .500 on May 27.
A three-game sweep of the Oakland A's at the end of May led way to series wins against the Indians, Royals and Cubs -- the latter drawing the Twins to within 10 games of .500.
Interleague play in mid-June brought more stale baseball, and more poor starting pitching performances, but the Twins regained some steam by taking two out of three in Cincinnati and by beating Jake Peavy in the first game of a three-game set with the White Sox earlier this week.
General manager Terry Ryan was pleased with his club's mini-resurgence up until that point, but the following two games -- a 3-2 loss to Gavin Floyd and a 12-5 loss to Chris Sale -- left a sour taste.
In the loss to Floyd, the Twins were unable to take advantage of a pitcher they traditionally hit better than almost anyone else. Players and coaches acknowledged that Floyd's stuff was as crisp as they had seen, but the offense was unable to project beyond a whisper until the ninth inning.
In the loss to Sale -- one of baseball's best pitchers -- Nick Blackburn and Jeff Manship were both shelled in the middle innings, Brian Dozier made a key error early in the game, and the middle of the order missed a chance to give the Twins an early lead after Denard Span's first-inning double.
The Twins offense combined for just one hit with runners in scoring position over those last two games.
"That's what happened the entire month of April -- whatever could go wrong did go wrong. And I thought we were beyond that," Ryan said Friday on 1500 ESPN in an interview with Tom Pelissero. "We've played pretty decent here of late. We started to take some series wins against some decent clubs. And then that thing with the White Sox. ...
"We did play them tough the first game, and we had a chance that second game. But that last (game) was just a clunker. It's right in my mind, and hopefully it'll get out of my mind when we play the Royals."
The Twins have played above.-500 baseball for more than a month, but poor starting pitching and other inconsistencies have cost them a chance to put a dent in the standings of a weak American League Central.
"That's a bad pattern for a club to be in. I hate that, when you're in those ebbs and flows when you don't know what you're going to look like from day to day," Ryan said. "We need to get more consistency in this club. More often than not, if we get a decent-pitched game we're a pretty good looking team. That's as easy as I can ever describe a team. If we pitch halfway decent -- and that's like most clubs. ...
"Unfortunately, the other day -- the day game (against Chicago) -- we just didn't even get out of the chute. And all of the sudden our offense looks like it's sluggish, and the baserunning, we're trying to do things we shouldn't. And then we have to expose the bullpen in the fourth inning, or whatever it was. It's just a bad cycle that you get in."
Doumit 'ideal' complement to Mauer
Ryan Doumit signed a two-year, $7 million extension on Friday that will keep him in Minnesota through 2014.
Prior to batting practice, Doumit spoke about how happy he was with the deal, and the feeling is mutual, as the Twins view Doumit as the perfect fit for a team that needs pop at the backup catcher and DH slots.
"That's why we did it," Ryan said. "Not because it was a team-friendly deal. We did it because he's the ideal guy to complement some of the rest of this roster. He seems like a good fit for the rest of this club. He's here early, he's good in the clubhouse. Knock on wood, but he's been durable, you can put him out there.
"He's got versatility, you can DH him, he's in the right league for sure. He's got sock in his bat. Switch hitter. I guess all the reasons we signed him in the first place, it's graduated into wanting to have him hang around here. And he felt the same way. So that made it easy for this thing to come together actually, because he had interest in staying and we had interest in keeping him."
Joe Mauer has started 33 games at catcher this season and Doumit 27.
Ryan 'surprised' by Dozier's inconsistencies
Dozier's first two months in the big leagues haven't gone the way he likely envisioned. His aforementioned error on Wednesday was his 11th of the season, which is the most among American League shortstops.
And even after blasting his third home run of the season, against Sale of all pitchers, Dozier is hitting just .227/.254/.324.
It's worth pointing out that 21% of Dozier's batted balls have been liners, which ranks him among league leaders, so it's likely he's been a touch unlucky.
Still, Ryan wants to see more consistency out of the 25-year-old shortstop on both sides of the ball.
"Dozier's been on and off, and that's a concern of mine," Ryan told Pelissero. "We need him to make all the plays that he should. He shouldn't unforced errors by our shortstop. He's a good player. Unfortunately there's been too many inconsistencies in his game presently, and I'm somewhat surprised at that. We've got to fix that. He's got to do better than he's doing. He's a better player than he's shown. ...
"If you're going to be a major league shortstop you need to make routine plays, because if you don't you've got to find somebody that will. That doesn't work. Major league shortstops, they make the routine plays, and on occasion they'll make those phenomenal plays. He's made more phenomenal plays than he's made the consistent, the routine. And that's just a lack of concentration. He needs to be better. He will do better. There's no reason he can't make those plays."
Waldrop back up
Kyle Waldrop was called up from Triple-A Rochester in time for this weekend's series against the Kansas City Royals and could see some time in late-game situations according to manager Ron Gardenhire.
"Right-handed situations, he's a good sinkerballer, he can get righties out," Gardenhire said. "Second half of the ball game, times like that. Sixth inning. That type of thing, seventh inning if we need some outs."
Waldrop was a near-lock to make the Twins roster after spring training, but he suffered an elbow strain and was sent down on a rehab assignment and then was sent to pitch in Rochester.
Waldrop pitched 14 2/3 innings in nine appearances for Triple-A Rochester with a 1.26 ERA and 75% groundball rate. In those nine appearances, only twice did Waldrop only pitch just one inning.
"We liked him last year when he came up and threw a little bit for us," Gardenhire said. "We liked the way he was powering the ball down in the zone. It was unfortunate that he got hurt. I'm excited to get him back out there healthy and to see what he can do."
Waldrop said he initially felt some fatigue from throwing multiple innings, but no pain.
• OF Joe Benson experienced some soreness in his surgically-repaired hand in a GCL game on Thursday night, so he will be temporarily shut down. The Twins are hoping Benson can get back into a game within the next few days. Prior to the injury, Benson -- ranked as Baseball America's 99th-best prospect heading into the year -- was demoted from Triple-A Rochester to Double-A New Britain due to poor performance.
• RHP Alex Wimmers (strained elbow) has been playing catch down in Florida, and Twins are hopeful he can get back on a mound sometime in late-July.