Game: Twinks 1, Mariners 6
The Quote: "I'm a little concerned. A little more than normal. I never go in the training room. I've never pulled a muscle, or anything." - Mike Redmond
The bright side about Mike Redmond's injury is that my piece on Drew Butera may suddenly be relevant again.
Ken Griffey hit his 8th opening day home run and his 25th career home run at the Metrodome when he redirected a Francisco Liriano offering over the baggy. If there is one person that will miss the Metrodome it will be Griff. His 25 at the facility is Griffey's most at a stadium that wasn't his home field and his 41 total against the Twins is his most against any opponent.
Joe Mauer's absence in the third spot exposes a large hole in the Twins offensive strategy that led to a potent run-scoring lineup in 2008. In the top of the first, Denard Span walked and Alexi Casilla laced a single, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Under these circumstances over the course of his career, Mauer has had 144 plate appearances and is 47-for-130 (.362 BA) with a 7.6% strikeout rate and grounding into 12 doubleplays. Without the availability of Mauer, Ron Gardenhire opted to use Michael Cuddyer in the third spot. There is plenty to like about the decision to use Cuddyer third but advancing runners is not his strong suit. Cuddyer has had 211 plate appearances in those same conditions and is 52-for-191 (.278 BA) with a 20% strikeout rate and has been doubled up 20 times. In this occasion, Cuddyer failed to advance Span and Casilla as he struck out (one of three on Monday). Being able to advance Span and Casilla up one base would allow for Justin Morneau to bring in Span via sacrifice fly or both on a base hit and losing that ability will decrease the Twins scoring opportunities.
Joe Christensen says that Denard Span looks like a natural out in left field. Considering that the Twins' left field candidates last year combined for a UZR (ultimate zone rating) of -25.2 and left is the most expansive corner outfield at the Metrodome, having Span patrolling the landscape in front of the Home Run Porch will be a welcomed addition.
Check out Geoff Baker's Seattle Time Mariners' blog throughout the series with the Twins. Baker does a great job of providing updates and images throughout the series.
You sit around, trying to enjoy your beer on the plaza with a conveniently placed Twins World Champions banner behind you, eagerly awaiting the start of the 2009 season and - BAM! - someone snaps your picture and before you know it, it's posted on Yahoo!...
If you are around your computer tonight, tune into Seth Stohs' podcast at 9 pm. I'll be joining Seth who will be talking to Twins minor league pitcher Tom Stuifbergen (of Netherlands WBC fame).