Deolis Guerra was the youngest player acquired by the Twins in the 2008 trade sending Cy Young pitcher Johan Santana to the Mets for four prospects including Guerra and outfielder Carlos Gomez. Now Guerra, a 22-year-old, 6-5, 245-pound right-handed pitcher is the last remaining Twins property from that unproductive trade.
Guerra gave up four hits and five runs in one inning in his spring training relief debut last Monday. He followed that appearance with a better outing on Friday, pitching one inning and giving up no hits. Twins minor league executive Jim Rantz told Sports Headliners he believes Guerra will make the big league club some day, but will start this season in Triple-A Rochester.
Guerra had a 5.59 ERA in 37 games pitching for Double-A New Britain last season. What impressed, though, was after moving from a starting role to relief pitching he had a 1.29 ERA in August.
Rantz likes Guerra’s potential as a middle and late inning relief pitcher, commenting that the Venezuelan native paces himself better in relief than starting. “He’s more consistent out of the (bull)pen,” Rantz said.
Rantz also said Twins minor league players — those who aren’t at the big league camp — reported to spring training last week. Included are much talked about prospects Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. Rantz said Sano, a 6-foot-3 slugging third baseman, reported to camp weighing 243 pounds and had “no fat.” Rosario is being converted from the outfield to second base. Both players will play for Class-A Beloit this season.
Although he’s 36 years old, the Twins will again expect starting right-hander Carl Pavano to throw a lot of innings. The last two seasons he’s pitched 221 and 222 innings. The past two years he ranks fifth in the major leagues for most complete games, 10.
University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler told WCCO Radio’s Sports Huddle audience yesterday he will wait to consult with the soon to be hired new athletic director before deciding on a contract extension for Gophers coach Tubby Smith.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill spoke to the C.O.R.E.S. group last week, addressing several subjects including social media. Not surprisingly, the 50-year-old Gophers coach isn’t a fan. “We have forgotten how to communicate face-to-face,” he said.
Without thinking about the consequences, information is posted on Facebook that could cost a person a college scholarship or a job, Kill said. “People put things on Facebook you can’t believe.”
The Gophers open spring practice on March 22 after a winter of conditioning and weight training. Players who don’t adhere to the coach’s rules can find themselves wearing the infamous brown t-shirts. On one side the message is: “I let my teammates down.” The other side: “Minnesota Loafers.”
Kill said the Gophers are a work in progress including behavior, noting he still has “kids that don’t know right or wrong.” The right attitude on the field is also a goal. “We don’t have hard working, fight back people yet,” he said.
The Gophers’ second-year coach is seeking community support. While speaking to groups he’s likely to bring up names like Nike’s Phil Knight whose financial help boosted Oregon athletics.
Kill and his staff are involved with the March 29-31 Minnesota Football Coaches Clinic led by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. Association executive director Ron Stolski said registrations are on a record pace but still being accepted. The clinic’s primary site will be the DoubleTree Hotel in St. Louis Park and more information is available at mnfootballclinic.com.
On Friday night March 30 former Gopher and now University of Houston head coach Tony Levine will be the headline speaker. Kill will also talk that evening. St. Thomas head coach Glenn Caruso will receive the Tom Mahoney Man of the Year Award from the MFCA. Caruso coached the Tommies to a 13-0 record last year before losing a playoff game that would have sent his team to the Division III national championship game.
The Gophers held their Pro Day for NFL scouts last week and it’s popular opinion no Gopher senior will be drafted next month. Free agent signees could include defensive lineman Anthony Jacobs, tight end Eric Lair and wide receiver Da’Jon McKnight.
The Vikings will miss guard Steve Hutchinson’s leadership just as they did in 2009 when center Matt Birk went to Baltimore. The Vikings released Hutchinson, an 11-year veteran, on Saturday.
Ricky Rubio’s mother was in town, visiting from Spain, when the Timberwolves point guard tore the ACL in his left knee on Friday night.
Dick Jonckowski, the popular emcee and Gophers basketball-baseball public address announcer, spoke at the MainStreet Lodge last week where former Minneapolis Lakers and Gophers coach John Kundla is a resident.
Justin Kloos from Lakeville South High School is the recipient of the 28th Annual Mr. Hockey Award, given to the outstanding senior boys prep player in the state, according to an announcement made yesterday by the Minnesota Minutemen. Michael Bitzer of Moorhead High is the The Frank Brimsek Award winner as the top senior goaltender. Ken Pauly (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School) and Bruce Plante (Hermantown High School) received The John Mariucci Award given to the Class AA and Class A high school coaches of the year. Bart Larson (Edina East/West High Schools) received The Cliff Thompson Award as “Old Timer Coach” of the year.
Minnesota North Stars Night will be Thursday, March 29 when the Wild play Florida at Xcel Energy Center. Over 30 North Stars alums are scheduled to participate in activities throughout the evening. The next night the Wild will host an “Evening with the Stars” event at 317 Rice Park. Fans will interact with alumni expected to include Neal Broten, Jack Carlson, Brad Maxwell, J.P. Parise, Tom Reid and Gordie Roberts. More information on the North Stars promotions is available at wild.com/northstars.
Newsman Bruce Hagevik’s last day with WCCO Radio is Wednesday. He’s been with the station for nearly 40 years.