Notes: Slowey's spot not set in stone
Adjustments needed for young right-hander to seal rotation job
TAMPA, Fla. -- The assumption this past offseason was that Kevin Slowey's spot in the Twins' rotation for 2008 was all but guaranteed.Yet there already seems to be some stiff competition among some of the talented young arms this spring, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Wednesday that whether Slowey earns a spot will come down to his performance this spring. "Obviously, when you lose [Johan] Santana and [Carlos] Silva, you would think he should be able to step into one of [those spots]," Gardenhire said of Slowey. "But he's still got to pitch. He's got to make the pitches down here and get it done." Slowey hasn't had an easy time doing that so far this spring. The right-hander struggled in his first Grapefruit League start on Wednesday, giving up three runs on five hits over his two innings against a power-packed Yankees lineup. It was the second disappointing outing in a row for the right-hander. Slowey allowed three runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings in his first spring appearance, facing the Red Sox. Gardenhire pinpointed Slowey's problems as a case of overthrowing all of his pitches. "Right now, everything is blending in -- his changeup, his fastball and his breaking ball," Gardenhire said. "They all look the same." It's not what the Twins expected to see from Slowey, who made strides in mixing up his pitches during his second stint with the Twins last year. After being recalled on Sept. 3 from Triple-A Rochester, the right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in six outings. Slowey said that while he hasn't been happy with his results so far this spring, he felt like he made some slight adjustments on Wednesday. Still, there are more changes he feels he has to make. "You certainly try to leave the results at the field and build off what you are trying to work on that day, but it's tough," Slowey said. "Certainly, you don't want to go out there and give up runs every time. So for me, I'm just going to keep working on what I need to work on and let the decisions fall on the people who need to make them." While the Twins have hesitated to write any pitchers as "locks" for the rotation this spring, it certainly appeared like Slowey had an edge, considering his performance at the end of last season. And that still could be the case, if Slowey can find a way to regain his old form. "It's early in spring, and there are not a lot of innings under his belt," Gardenhire said. "But he's definitely got to make some adjustments."
Favorable company: The lone run that Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain allowed in his 24 regular-season innings last season came courtesy of a Mike Lowell home run.Now Garrett Jones can add his name to the rare list of players to homer off the much-hyped right-hander. Jones hit a rocket off Chamberlain in the fifth inning on Wednesday, a two-run shot that carried deep over the right-field wall. "I knew he had a great fastball," Jones said. "That's what I was trying to do, see the fastball and just put the good part of the bat on it. I didn't swing very hard. He's supplying a lot of power, throwing as hard as he does. I was able to time it right." As for Chamberlain's reaction to the homer, he just seemed to give credit where he felt it was due. "I guess if you're going to give them up, give them up big," Chamberlain said. "He didn't miss it." Jones, who is out of options, is currently battling for one of the Twins' final roster spots, along with infielder Brian Buscher. Rookie mistakes: With three inexperienced center fielders battling for the Twins' starting job this spring, Gardenhire has said that the club expects some mistakes to be made by the young players. Some of those rookie blunders were on display by two of the center-field candidates in Wednesday's game. On a Bobby Abreu single to center, Carlos Gomez tried to throw home to catch the runner coming from second base. But Gomez's throw was off line, ending up nearly 15 feet down the first-base line. The runner scored, and Gomez's throwing error allowed the two other runners to advance. Jason Pridie also made a miscue. His came on the basepaths, where he opted not to slide into second base and narrowly avoided the tag, thinking that the batter had fouled off the pitch. "They are all going to have their funny little plays," Gardenhire said. "I think we've talked about that. You start trying to compare them to Torii [Hunter], and you can't do that. You are going to see some things like that." Twins tidbits: Closer Joe Nathan's ankle was fine following his side session on Tuesday. Gardenhire said he expects his closer to pitch in a game some time in the next few days. ... The Twins have decided not to schedule another "B" game with the Red Sox. Gardenhire said that with the club's split squad on Friday, he feels there will be enough innings for all of the pitchers. ... The Twins announced on Wednesday that their new Spanish-language radio broadcast partner for the 2008 season will be Latino Communications Network. Twenty-six games will be simulcast on both KMNV-AM 1400 and KMNQ-AM 1470, including all Tuesday and Sunday home games. Up next: The Twins will host the Orioles in a 12:05 p.m. CT matchup on Wednesday at Hammond Stadium. Outfielder Craig Monroe could make his first game appearance in a week, having been sidelined with a strained muscle in his lower left leg. Right-hander Livan Hernandez will get the start for the Twins and face off against Orioles right-hander Daniel Cabrera.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.