"OSAKA, Japan -- Japanese baseball star Tsuyoshi Nishioka is just beginning his first spring training in America, as the newest infielder for the Minnesota Twins. KARE 11's Mike Pomeranz recently returned from Japan where he spent time with the 26-year-old superstar, who was preparing for his new life in Twins Territory.
In this second report of a two part series, Pomeranz catches up with Nishioka working out intensely at a training facility in Osaka, Japan - running, hitting, throwing and lifting weights.
Outside, fans await his daily arrival. Some hold signs. Others wave Nishioka's uniform from his Japanese team the Chiba Lotte Marines. Still others shout his name and sing songs. Everyone is hoping for a glimpse of the man with the golden chance to play Major League Baseball.
Nishioka has been a fan favorite here since he burst on the pro baseball scene in 2003, a fiery switch-hitting shortstop and second baseman for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He grew up in a baseball loving family and followed his older brother's love of the game.
The self-described blue-collar kid, the son of a retired firefighter and café owner, grew up admiring his home country's baseball heroes, but also those in America, like the New York Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter.
Nishioka, an easy-going infielder with a quick wit, says he is his own man and jokes when asked if he'd compare himself to Babe Ruth.
"Babe Ruth, yeah," he says chuckling at the notion.
It would have been hard to blame Nishioka if he would have chosen to sit back and enjoy the spoils from his success in Japan. He makes good money, has many lucrative endorsement deals and has been a media darling in his hometown.
He is prominently featured in ADIDAS advertising campaigns in Japan, among many others.
But as we learned in our visit here, Nishioka is not the complacent type.
After eight years in Japanese pro baseball, Nishioka's resume is full. He is a 5-time all-star, a 3-time Gold Glove winner and his teams have won the Japan Series twice. He even won a batting crown last season. But Nishioka says all of that was prep work for what lies ahead with the Twins.
Now, away from the glamour of the big stadiums and adoring crowds, Nishioka works tirelessly; six hours a day, nearly every day of the week.
He wants to make good on a reported $9 million, 3-year deal he struck with the Twins in December.
"As a player I would like to follow whatever my manager says," Nishioka said. "I would like to answer his expectations."
The Twins need him to play well, after purging their starting middle infielders from a year ago. So the work does not end.
Nishioka doesn't make any promises about his fielding percentages or likely batting average, but he does promise one thing.
"I will make an exciting play, but I will also make an exciting error too, so don't miss it," he said, flashing a wide smile.
Nishioka knows that success in America will be tough. Star Japanese middle infielders have not fared well in the Majors, and baseball insiders have been skeptical of his ability to buck the trend, but he is not fazed.
"I do not think about or worry about the articles about other players. I would like to play my own baseball," Nishioka said.
To ease the transition to the Majors, Nishioka will bring along his long-time personal assistant from Japan and he will have a full-time translator. He does however, plan to take English classes. He hopes to be able to eventually communicate with his manager and teammates on his own.
"Even though there are language barriers, I would like to communicate with (Manager Ron Gardenhire) as much as possible," said Nishioka.
He knows the value of returning home to Japan a Major League Baseball star. Other Japanese stars that have done well in America, like Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki, are revered in Japan and their images are frequently featured in major ad campaigns for an array of products.
Japanese companies know the value too. While we were visiting in Japan representatives from sports-product makers pitched Nishioka on their products. He's an advertiser's blank canvas, and marketing agents hope he will wear their products in the United States.
For now, Nishioka continues to work out hard, practice and train in advance of spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.
Then, his new life will begin, with a chance for him to win the hearts of baseball fans in two countries. And even if he doesn't always have the words in English to express himself, he seems well on his way to doing just that.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.) "
Tsuyoshi Nishioka takes infield with Minnesota Twins
"Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka took infield practice with some of
his new Minnesota Twins teammates on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, at
Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla."
HUMANITARIAN: Feed My Starving Children to send 600,000 meals to Japan
10:15 AM, Mar 18, 2011 kare11.com "MINNEAPOLIS -- Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a Minnesota-based, Christian food charity, has arranged for nearly 600,000 meals to be shipped to Japan.
FSMC may send even more, as additional aid organizations line up to request its food.
In an arrangement made late Wednesday, the first 50,000 meals from FMSC are already on their way to Tokyo on a shipment with Convoy of Hope, a distribution partner working in the Far East.
Convoy of Hope had originally planned the shipment for the Philippines, but decided to divert the FMSC meals to help immediate relief efforts in Japan.
Convoy of Hope has reserved another 542,000 meals that will be shipped out of the Eagan and Coon Rapids warehouses of FMSC early next week, bound for ocean liners to Japan.
So far, the meals for Japan are already packed and in storage, but volunteers and donors are needed every day to keep FMSC's meal pipeline full for the nearly 70 countries the charity serves.
"We are heartbroken over the devastation in Japan," says FMSC Executive Director/CEO Mark Crea. "We are not primarily a disaster aid organization, since most of our meals are pre-allocated to developing nations. But we believe these meals could be life-giving to some of the thousands of Japanese now in evacuation centers, who will need both short-term and long-term aid. We pray they gain strength and some hope from these meals, sent in the name of Christ."
FMSC has offered its food to four other partner organizations that may have channels into the northern region of Japan, struck with a historic 9.0 earthquake last Friday, followed by a tsunami and evacuations away from nuclear plants.
The MannaPack Rice meals of FMSC are comprised of rice, soy nuggets, dehydrated vegetables, and 20 vitamins and minerals in a vegetarian chicken flavoring. Prepared with boiling water, a single one-cup serving provides all the nutrients a child or adult needs for a day.
Food scientists from Cargill and General Mills developed the formula for Feed My Starving Children in 1987, and since then, the organization has produced 400 million meals.
FMSC distributes food to nearly 70 countries around the world through humanitarian agencies and missions. All meals, just 24 cents each, are funded by donors and packed by volunteers.
FMSC has six packing sites in Minnesota, Illinois and Arizona, as well as a nationwide MobilePack operation that has traveled to 33 states. A full 94 percent of total donations go directly to the food program, earning FMSC the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
For more information or to donate, visit www.fmsc.org/donate/japanrelief. Or give an immediate gift of $10 by texting "manna" to 50555.
(Copyright 2011 KARE. All rights reserved) "
2011 Minnesota Twins Commercial - Jim Thome, The Man With An Ox In the Batter's Box
"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins have set a new franchise record for attendance at spring training.
The Twins say they have set a 16-game season record with 129,453 fans moving through the turnstiles at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Fla., this year.
The only time the Twins attracted more fans to spring training fans was 2007, when 129,543 fans attended over 17 games.
This year the Twins also set a franchise record for highest per-game attendance during the preseason spring training, drawing an average or nearly 8,100 fans to each game.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) "
"Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano was among the last pitchers anyone would have picked to throw this season’s first no-hitter.
Just about everything was stacked against him, including his natural talent; his fastball velocity is down, his slider hasn’t moved as it has in previous seasons and he is having trouble controlling his entire repertoire.
But those issues are of far less concern after Liriano, who was in serious danger of losing his rotation spot to rehabbing right-hander Kevin Slowey prior to Tuesday, threw a no-no on the road against the Chicago White Sox. With the win, Liriano improved to 2-4 and lowered his ERA to 6.61.
Liriano wasn’t sharp to the point that he dominated, but he got the job done. He struck out two and walked six, and he had three-ball counts to three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth inning. Of his 123 pitches, only 66 were strikes.
Making the feat even more unlikely: The no-hitter was Liriano’s first career shutout and complete game in 95 career starts—he hadn’t even gone the distance in 110 minor league starts—and he hadn’t thrown more than 97 pitches or pitched more than 6 1/3 innings this season. Not exactly a no-hitter candidate.
Liriano isn’t striking out opponents like he has in the past, and hitters aren’t chasing his bad pitches as often as they used to, as evidenced by his identical strikeout and walk rates (6.8 per nine innings) prior to his no-no. The strikeout rate is a career low and the walk rate is the worst among major league starters this season.
All of that led to a 9.13 ERA when Liriano stepped on the U.S. Cellular mound Tuesday. And aside from the zeroes in the hit column, his pitching line didn’t demonstrate that the mechanical adjustments he made were overly effective.
It might not have been a complete work of art that will be used in clinic videos, but Liriano now has a no-hitter on his resume. And even with Slowey set to return to the majors, Liriano’s job is safe.
Francisco Liriano No Hitter 5/3/11
1-Ran for Castro, R in the 8th.
2B: Valencia (4, Jackson, E).
HR: Kubel (3, 4th inning off Jackson, E, 0 on, 1 out).
TB: Span; Casilla, A; Kubel 4; Cuddyer; Tosoni; Valencia 2.
RBI: Kubel (11).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Butera 2.
GIDP: Casilla, A.
Team RISP: 0-for-3.
Team LOB: 4.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Quentin.
GIDP: Dunn, A; Rios; Beckham.
Team RISP: 0-for-2.
Team LOB: 3.
SB: Pierre (6, 2nd base off Liriano/Butera).
DP: (Beckham-Ramirez, A-Konerko).
Minnesota IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Liriano(W, 2-4) 9.0 0 0 0 6 2 0 6.61
Totals 9.0 0 0 0 6 2 0 4.87
Chi White Sox IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Jackson, E(L, 2-4) 8.0 6 1 1 1 2 1 4.98
Thornton 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 7.71
Totals 9.0 6 1 1 1 4 1 4.33
Pitches-strikes: Liriano 123-66, Jackson, E 107-69, Thornton 17-13.
Groundouts-flyouts: Liriano 9-5, Jackson, E 14-2, Thornton 1-0.
Batters faced: Liriano 30, Jackson, E 29, Thornton 3.
Umpires: HP: Bruce Dreckman. 1B: Paul Emmel. 2B: Rob Drake. 3B: Gary Darling.
Weather: 42 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 10 mph, L to R.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media
Minnesota Twins Alexi Casilla Walk-off Hit June 9, 2011
"...Beset by injuries and plagued by an ineffective bullpen and sloppy defense, the Twins were an MLB-worst 17-37 and 16 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland on June 1. They've looked like an entirely different team in the days since, returning to the pitching-strong, fundamentally sound play they've been known for over the last decade. ...
"The last time Rene Tosoni was in the big leagues, his experience wasn't so enjoyable.
He joined the Twins on April 27, left on May 13 and experienced little of the joy that a first-time call-up must imagine he'll find in the majors.
"I think I was here for two weeks," Tosoni said after the Twins' 5-4 walk-off win Sunday. "And we won two games."
They won three, but Tosoni's point was clear.
This time, the outfielder, up since June 10, said the atmosphere couldn't have been more different. No team meetings, no heartfelt talks from the manager, no hanging heads or sullen postgame clubhouse scenes.
This time, Tosoni has seen plenty of wins, and on Sunday he contributed mightily to the most recent of them.
With the Twins down one run in the seventh inning, Tosoni pinch-hit for Rene Rivera with two outs and a runner on third. His at-bat nearly ended on a foul-tip strikeout, but as the Twins' luck has been going these days, San Diego Padres catcher Rob Johnson dropped the ball, and Tosoni got another chance. He responded by driving in the tying run with a double just inside the first-base line.
Next up came Matt Tolbert, hitless in his past 12 at-bats. He doubled Tosoni home for a 4-3 Twins lead.
And, finally, after a defensive breakdown in the eighth inning allowed the Padres to tie the score (Luke Hughes fielded a ball that should have been Alexi Casilla's and Glen Perkins failed to cover first base), the game ended with a Drew Butera walk-off single that deflected off Padres third baseman Chase Headley's glove and allowed Delmon Young to score from second base.
And so concluded the Twins' seventh straight win.
After starting June a season-high 20 games below .500 (17-37), the Twins are 31-39 and 14-2 in their past 16 games. In a span of 15 days, they shaved 8-1/2 games off their American League Central deficit, skipped over Kansas City and out of last place in the standings and sit just eight games below .500 and eight back of first-place Cleveland. "...
'"Twins starters have pitched at least eight innings eight times this month. When that happens, it's easy to forget who's in the bullpen and what a team's shortcomings are.
Twins righthander Nick Blackburn lasted only six innings Wednesday, and the Twins lost their room for error. And their eight-game winning streak ended with a 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
The Twins needed their offense to step up, but it was no match for righthander Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up one run and three hits over seven innings.
They needed to play crisp defense but committed three errors, leading to two unearned runs.
With his team down two runs in the seventh, lefthander Phil Dumatrait made his first appearance since June 8 -- and gave up a run.
Giants catcher Eli Whiteside, who was in the Twins organization briefly in 2008, was the difference-maker Wednesday. He drove in three runs with a two-run triple in the second and an RBI single in the sixth.
The Twins now face two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum on Thursday as they try to win their sixth consecutive series.
Vogelsong has been the surprise of the Giants rotation. He entered the rotation in late April and caught fire last month. He entered the game with a 1.23 ERA over his previous eight starts and dropped it to 1.73 for the season.
Vogelsong throws a sinking fastball that drops out of the strike zone. While he can tear through a lineup with that pitch, he has other weapons.
"The guy was pretty nasty," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He has a good two-seamer going. He was throwing 92 [miles per hour]. He was painting the outside corner. When you tried to sit on that thing, he had a nice breaking ball and a changeup, too.
"When you have a mix like that and throwing gas down at the knees, he made it tough for us."
Vogelsong was perfect through four innings, getting seven of the 12 outs on ground balls."....
"CHICAGO -- Right-hander Carl Pavano tossed seven strong innings and Joe Mauer added a pair of RBI singles in his debut at first base to help lead the Twins to a 6-2 win over the White Sox on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com | 7/7/2011 10:47 PM ET minnesota.twins.mlb.com
Pavano scattered six hits and two walks over those seven frames, allowing just two runs on a homer from Mark Teahen in the fifth inning.
But Minnesota already had a 6-0 lead at that point, as it jumped all over former Twins right-hander Philip Humber, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits and a walk.
Mauer started the scoring with a single in the first inning to plate Ben Revere, who led off the game with a hit before stealing second.
The Twins came back with two more runs in the third, when Danny Valencia doubled and scored on a single from Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who promptly stole second and later scored on a single from Revere.
Nishioka and Revere were at again in the fourth, as Nishioka singled, reached second on a hit from Drew Butera and scored on Revere's third hit of the game. Mauer then hit a single into right field to score Nishioka and Revere, as Paul Konerko made an error trying to shuffle the ball to Gordon Beckham at first base after Mauer came off the bag rounding first.
The offensive output proved to be more than enough for Pavano, who was also helped out by his defense. Nishioka and Rivera made a few nice plays and Mauer proved to be an impressive defender at first base in his first game there since 2003, when he was with Class A Fort Myers.
Minnesota also improved to 5-0 against Chicago this season and has won eight in a row against its American League Central rival dating back to last year. "
"MINNEAPOLIS -- Not many people can hit a baseball farther than Jim Thome.
In the sixth inning on Sunday, he reminded everyone of that fact by crushing home run No. 596 into the second deck in right field, a blast that was measured at 490 feet.
Thome's seventh home run of the season propelled the Twins to a 4-3 win over the Royals in the series finale.
Thome's three-run shot topped his previous Target Field record blast of 480 feet, which hit off the flag pole beyond right field last September.
"He clocked it, I heard," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who has been battling an illness and was forced to watch the game from the clubhouse.
It was not Thome's longest career home run -- he once hit a 511-foot blast with the Indians that remains the longest in the history of Progressive Field. That home run, on July 3, 1999, also came against the Royals.
Of course, 490 feet is still a pretty impressive blast.
"Ridiculous. I stood up immediately," Twins starter Brian Duensing said. "I knew it was gone when he hit it; I didn't know it was going to go that far.
"That's why it's so fun watching him hit, because you never know when it's going to happen. When he gets them, they're usually big situations or very large home runs. Today was both."
Thome crushed a 3-2 slider from Royals starter Felipe Paulino about halfway up in the second deck. It was the 596th home run of Thome's career putting him just four shy of becoming the eighth player in Major League history to hit 600 or more career homers.
The lefty slugger hit it while still recovering from a sprained left big toe, and at age 40, health issues are the only thing keeping Thome from hitting mammoth home runs on a daily basis.
"I'm not going to win any races," Thome joked about the status of his toe. "I never did anyway. It's coming along good."
Joe Nathan came on in the ninth for his second straight save in the series, the first time since Oct. 2-3, 2009, that Nathan recorded saves in consecutive games.
Nathan has made nine consecutive scoreless appearances, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings of work. He sits three saves shy of tying Rick Aguilera on the Twins' all-time list.
Thome's blast gave the Twins just enough offense to support Duensing, who picked up his seventh win of the season. The left-hander went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
Duensing settled in nicely after opening with three long innings, retiring 10 straight Royals hitters from the third to the second out in the sixth.
"We just said, 'Let's keep going at 'em,'" Duensing said. "I was a little shaky early, and I think part of that was the All-Star break. I threw bullpens when I got back, but being off the mound in a game situation that long ... it took me a little while to get it going."
After Thome handed Duensing a 4-1 lead, he surrendered a two-run blast to Jeff Francoeur in the seventh. Francoeur's home run was his 13th of the season, a 418-foot blast to left. Duensing was taken out after facing one more batter, and the Twins' bullpen retired the Royals in order over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Both teams scored in the first inning in similar fashion before going scoreless until the sixth. Melky Cabrera and Alexi Casilla each doubled with one out, and Alex Gordon and Joe Mauer each drove them in with singles.
With their second straight win and the fourth in five games, the Twins moved to within five games of first place in the American League Central for the first time since April 23. The Twins also are five games under .500 for the first time since they were 9-14 on April 28.
As the first-place Indians head into town on Monday for a four-game series, the Twins have a big opportunity to gain even more ground this week.
"Maybe this momentum will carry us over into the next two series," Thome said. "You don't win every ballgame, but the thing this time of year is you want to win series. And that's what we're trying to do."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
Jim Thome Home Run 596
"Uploaded by Pwjdak on Jul 17, 2011
Jim Thome HR 596 July 17, 2011 bs KC bottom of the 6th
"ARLINGTON -- With Monday's series opener against the Rangers out of hand at Rangers Ballpark, the Twins brought in first baseman Michael Cuddyer to pitch in the eighth inning of a 20-6 blowout.
Amazingly, he fared better than most of the Twins' full-time pitchers.
Cuddyer pitched a scoreless frame, loading the bases but wiggling out of danger by getting two fly balls to end the inning. Of the other five pitchers to take the mound for the Twins, only Phil Dumatrait could claim to have held the Rangers scoreless.
"Cuddyer out there is a nightmare, but we had to put somebody out there, and he would have killed me if I put anyone else out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That was the one goal of his career was to pitch, so he pitched. I was scared to death to watch the guy do it, but he threw it, he had a big smile on his face, and we just had to get through it somehow."
Cuddyer became the first Twins position player to pitch since first baseman John Moses, who took the mound in two games during the 1990 season, the last coming on July 31 against the California Angels.
"For years I've been lobbying, and Gardy came up to me in the sixth and said, 'How mad would you be right now if I put [center fielder Trevor] Plouffe in to pitch?'" Cuddyer said. "I was like, 'It's your team, but I'd be hot.' It worked out. [Jason] Kubel hit the home run when I was on base, so I got to come in and actually run down to the bullpen real quick to get some throws in."
Cuddyer touched 88 mph with his fastball, but he was a little wild, missing the strike zone by multiple feet on several occasions.
Now that Cuddyer has pitched, there are only two positions on the diamond that Cuddyer has not played in the Major Leagues. He has not played catcher or shortstop.
Cuddyer is quick to point out, however, that he came through the Minors as a shortstop, so the only position he hasn't played professionally is catcher.
"I take pride in being a baseball player, and giving Gardy flexibility in the lineup," Cuddyer said. "This is probably going to be the last time I get on the mound, so it was fun."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said it was admirable how he stepped up to save the bullpen in a game that was all but over after the first five innings.
"I know from throwing batting practice his legs took a beating," Washington said. "But Mike is a team player. He went out there and fought and got the three outs they needed. He had bases loaded with one out and didn't give up a run."
Gardenhire reaffirmed that, saying that only three bullpen members would be available for Tuesday's game against the Rangers.
"It's not a situation you want to get yourself into, but we've used all of our pitchers," Gardenhire said. "We have three guys left for tomorrow's ballgame. [Matt] Capps, [Joe] Nathan and [Glen] Perkins. Hopefully we'll be able to use them in the right situation at the end of the game. That's a horrible performance."
Cuddyer danced out of danger, stranding the bases loaded with one out in the eighth.
Mike Napoli led off with a double, but had to hold up on Mitch Moreland's single. Both moved up a base on Endy Chavez's groundout. Ian Kinsler walked to load the bases. From there, Cuddyer got Elvis Andrus to fly out to left, and David Murphy to pop up to shortstop to end the Rangers' threat.
"I got some luck," Cuddyer said. "I got a ball to shallow left that Plouffe made a good throw and they couldn't tag on. Joe made a good play at first, and I ended the inning on a popup. It was fun. I had a good time, and fortunately I kept the ball in the ballpark."
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. ...
"DETROIT -- Twins designated hitter Jim Thome wrote his name in the record books on Monday, hitting two homers against the Tigers to reach the historic 600 home run plateau.
Thome reached the hallowed mark with his second blast of the night, this one coming on a 2-1 breaking ball from left-hander Daniel Schlereth that ended up in the bullpen in left field, making the score 9-5 in favor of the Twins. The three-run shot was Thome's 11th of the year and gave him his 48th career multi-homer game.
The record tater came after Thome hit a go-ahead two-run shot off right-hander Rick Porcello in the sixth inning.
Thome, whose 65 home runs against the Tigers is his most against any club, became just the eighth player to reach the historic 600 home run club. He joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa as the only players with the distinction.
"It's a little hard to think about," Thome said earlier this year about approaching the milestone. "When you play baseball, you never think about that. You don't think about the long haul and the long-term stuff. But I've been blessed throughout my career to be healthy and be on great teams with great teammates and coaches."
Thome, 40, has been one of the game's best sluggers throughout his 21-year big league career, topping 30 homers in 12 different seasons. Thome's hit 40 homers or more in six different seasons, including a career-best 52 homers in 2002.
Add it all up, and he's been one of the most prolific home run hitters of his era, and hasn't ceased to amaze his coaching staff or teammates.
"I can't even comprehend it, as a player and a manager, that many home runs," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who hit four career homers in 710 big league at-bats. "Six hundred, that's pretty good. I do that in bowling. In three games."
Twins veteran Michael Cuddyer, who has 139 homers in 11 seasons, agreed with his manager, adding that he is in awe of the historic milestone.
"It's hitting 20 home runs for 30 years, or 30 a year for 20 years," said Cuddyer, who couldn't help but laugh about the absurdness of hitting 600 homers. "To be able to produce at the level he's produced for the amount of time he's produced, it's remarkable. It really is."
It's been fun for Thome's teammates to watch his chase to 600, especially because the Twins have scuffled recently and have found themselves essentially out of contention in the American League Central.
"It's exciting we're all a part of it," veteran right-hander Carl Pavano said recently. "Hopefully we can mix in a few wins and make everybody happy."
The march to 600 has also featured some impressive homers, as Thome has the two longest home runs at Target Field this season according to ESPN.com's HitTracker.
Thome hit a 454-foot blast off A's reliever Jerry Blevins over the batter's eye in center field on April 10, and crushed a 464-foot homer into the upper deck in center field off Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino on July 17.
"That's why it's so fun watching him hit, because you never know when it's going to happen," said left-hander Brian Duensing after Thome's mammoth three-run homer against the Royals. "When he gets them, they're usually big situations or very large home runs."
Thome, who re-signed with the Twins this offseason on a one-year deal worth $3 million after hitting 25 homers last season, has played with five different clubs. He's previously played for the Indians, White Sox, Phillies and Dodgers.
It was Thome's 12 years with Cleveland when he established himself as a home run threat, as he averaged 40 homers a year from 1996-02 before signing with Philadelphia as a free agent.
Thome led the National League in homers his first year with the Phillies, mashing 47 in 2003 before hitting 42 in '04. But he hit just seven homers while playing in just 59 games in '05, and was subsequently traded to the White Sox in the offseason.
Thome bounced back in Chicago, averaging 33 homers in almost four years with the team, including his 500th homer on Sept. 16, 2007, a walk-off winner against the Angels.
Thome was traded to the Dodgers in late August during the '09 season, giving him a shot to win his first World Series title. But he went homerless in 17 at-bats as the Dodgers lost the NL Championship Series to the Phillies.
Thome then signed with the Twins before the 2010 season and proved he still had plenty in the tank, hitting 25 taters in just 276 at-bats while posting a 1.039 OPS.
Thome decided to remain with the Twins this season, and his teammates couldn't be happier that he stayed with the club.
"I was extremely selfish this offseason because I wanted him to sign back," Cuddyer said with a grin. "I wanted him to be a part of the team, but I also wanted a chance to see him hit his 600th home run."
Thome's quest for 600 has been a major storyline for the Twins all season, and every home run has been a cause for celebration.
"It's always fun to see Thome walk to the plate and hit a homer," Gardenhire said earlier in the season. "Everyone is out there cheering for him. It's always a big moment and gives you a little bit of a lift."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rene Tosoni hit an RBI double with two outs in the ninth inning and the Minnesota Twins snapped their 11-game losing streak, beating the Seattle Mariners 3-2 Thursday.
The Twins avoided another sweep and won for just the second time in 17 games. This was the third-longest skid in Minnesota’s 51-season history, behind a 14-game slide in 1982 and a 13-game drought in 1961, the first year the franchise moved from Washington.
Trevor Plouffe drew a two-out walk from Steve Delabar (1-1) and Tosoni followed with a drive that hopped off the right-field wall. Plouffe slid home, easily beating the relay.
Tosoni had three hits and scored twice. The rookie began the day batting .174 in his first big league season.
Joe Nathan (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win after getting out of his own trouble. The Mariners stranded 12 runners, including the potential go-ahead run at third in the ninth when Wily Mo Pena flied out.
It was another close game between the two teams. The Mariners won the first two games of the series by 5-4 scores and both teams had their chances late in this one.
Ichiro Suzuki grounded back to reliever Glen Perkins with the bases loaded to end the Seattle eighth.
The Twins threatened in the bottom half before Michael Cuddyer hit into a double play against Delabar.
Mariners starter Blake Beavan, acquired from Texas along with Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee trade in 2010, pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and six hits.
After what Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire called a “flop” in his last start, Anthony Swarzak came back with a six strong innings for the Twins, allowing two runs on nine hits.
Bert Blyleven-The Hall of Fame Interview (Part1)-Jan 6, 2011
"Uploaded by TheBaseballHall on Jan 19, 2011
Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame Interview (Part One). Jan 6, 2011, the day he was introduced as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2011.
"This isn't the first time I've pleaded the case for Bert Blyleven's election to the Hall of Fame, but I'm crossing my fingers it will be the last.
Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesBert Blyleven is fifth all-time with 3,701 strikeouts.
Blyleven finished 67 votes shy of the 405 necessary for election last year. Convincing 67 stubborn baseball writers of anything beyond the value of the Marriott rewards program can be challenging, but the stats actually favor Blyleven. The 67 votes represented 12.3 percent of last year's total, and according to ESPN Stats & Information, 11 players jumped by at least that much from one year to the next over the past decade. Carlton Fisk, Ryne Sandberg, Goose Gossage and Tony Perez all jumped at least that much the year they were elected.
There are a couple of reasons Blyleven could make a similar leap this year or over the next two years. One, this is a relatively soft year for candidates, as is next year. Robbie Alomar is the only player who has the sort of numbers that scream "first-ballot" this year, but even he may not get the necessary 75 percent of the votes. (Jeff Bagwell looks like the only first-ballot guy next year.) That favors a player considered borderline by voters.
More important, attitudes toward statistics are gradually changing, as the Cy Young vote demonstrated this year when the award went to starters with 16 wins (Zack Greinke) and 15 wins (Tim Lincecum). That bodes well for Blyleven, who has been a victim of the Cy Young bias.
One reason writers cite in not voting for Blyleven is that he never won a Cy Young award and never really came close. If Blyleven never was considered the best pitcher in his league when he was playing, so goes this reasoning, why should we consider him among the best of all time?
This is faulty logic and unfair because the Cy Young is awarded by the vote of writers who may have undervalued a pitcher's performance in the first place. That means the writers initially punish a pitcher by not voting him an award he may deserve, then punish him again by withholding their Hall of Fame votes because they didn't vote him the earlier award.
Consider the 1973 season, when Blyleven led the league in WHIP, adjusted ERA and shutouts; was a close second in ERA, a very distant second in strikeouts (Nolan Ryan set the record that year) and fourth in innings pitched (325); and won 20 games. As analyst Richard Lederer argues, those numbers are comparable to the ones Greinke put up this year, but instead of winning the Cy Young, Blyleven finished a distant seventh. Only one writer even voted for Blyleven in 1973, and that writer marked him third on the ballot.
Had Blyleven put up those stats today, he may have won the Cy Young or at least come close to winning the award. Yet while our appreciation of statistics has changed, some people are still judging Blyleven by how writers viewed stats back then, even though that view is considered outdated.
Besides, what's so shameful about not winning a Cy Young when you're competing against the likes of Ryan, Jim Palmer, Roger Clemens and Catfish Hunter? Finishing behind Hall of Famers does not mean you shouldn't be a Hall of Famer yourself. Or as Blyleven says, quoting his wife, Gayle, "Cy Young didn't win the Cy Young, so what's the point?"
That 1973 season was the only year Blyleven won 20 games, which some voters also hold against his candidacy. But as the Lincecum and Greinke votes show, our standards have changed about win totals. If we no longer weigh wins as heavily as we did in determining the very best pitcher of the year, we should likewise adjust our thinking when determining the very best pitchers in history.
"One of the hardest things there is in baseball is to win a game," Blyleven said. "If you lose 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, you end up losing a lot." Blyleven knows this all too well, pointing out that he lost 99 quality starts (the fifth most since 1954) and that he had another 79 quality starts when he got a no-decision.
Making the Hall of Fame case for …
• Kurkjian: Andre Dawson
• Neyer: Tim Raines
• Crasnick: Roberto Alomar
• Stark: Barry Larkin
• Schoenfield: Edgar Martinez
There was a time when I didn't vote for Blyleven, but I became a passionate convert after studying his case more and listening to other opinions. I'm not alone -- Blyleven's votes have risen from 14 percent in 1999 to 63 percent last year. Attitudes are changing, and rather than focus on what Blyleven did not do (win 300 games or a Cy Young), we are beginning to appreciate what he did do. Such as throw 60 shutouts -- nearly as many as Clemens and Pedro Martinez combined and more than all but eight pitchers in the Hall of Fame. And strike out 3,701 batters (fifth all-time). And throw 242 complete games (more than all but seven pitchers since 1955). And go 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in the postseason. And throw the finest curveball most of us ever saw.
If you want more arguments for Blyleven, check out a few of the pieces I've written about him in the past: December 2005, December 2009, February 2008 and January 2003 (and this last one was when I wasn't yet convinced because I hadn't considered some aspects of his career).
I don't want to have to make this argument next year. The next story I want to write about Blyleven and Cooperstown is about the hotfoot (hotfeet?) he gives his fellow Hall of Famers during his induction speech.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com."
I heard a great interview with Bert Blyleven today, and it made me think more about his Hall of Fame candidacy, what with the vote coming up again (see the end of the post for a special announcement on this.) He'll be on the ballot for the 12th time, meaning there are just 4 more chances for the writers to finally get it right and put him in. He is significantly more qualified than quite a number of pitchers already in the HOF, and there are many sites out there with more info on it (including my previous post on this blog about him.) We're not talking about someone like Jim Rice or Tony Perez here, whose numbers are fringe for the HOF...
Anyway, since this whole thing is...
Bio: "Born June 29, 1936, Harmon Killebrew was signed by the Washington Senators in 1954 at the age of 17. Regarded as one of the most prolific power hitters in major league baseball history, Harmon “Killer” Killebrew amassed numbers matched only by the game’s very elite. In his 22 years of hard work and productivity, he was named American League All-Star 13 times, the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player and a six-time American League home run leader. At the time of his retirement, he hit more home runs (573) than any right-handed hitter. In 1984, Killebrew joined baseball’s immortals with his election into the Hall of Fame.
After leaving baseball as a professional player, Harmon started an insurance business, in Boise, Idaho and sold business insurance and estate planning. He left the insurance business in 1987 to devote more time to his automobile dealership, Harmon Killebrew Motors in Ontario, Oregon that he founded in 1984. After selling the dealership in 1990, Harmon moved to sunny Scottsdale, Arizona and established his current business of Professional Endorsement through which he conducts his daily business of appearances and endorsements.
In 1998, Harmon and his wife Nita founded the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, Ltd. The foundation enables Harmon to raise funds for the benefit of his favorite charities. The foundation recently embarked on a new partnership with the national office of the Miracle League. Harmon and Nita have enlisted the help of other Hall of Famers to work with the Miracle League to offer advice and assistance in fundraising efforts across the country. No matter what he does, Harmon’s life is about a pure love of the game and he hopes to bring that to children of all walks of life. "
A native of Idaho, feared slugger Harmon Killebrew, who made his name in the nation's capital near the end of the 1950s and underscored it many times in 14 summers playing for the Twins in Minnesota, passed away May 17 from esophageal cancer at age 74.
* Hall of Fame inductee, 1984
* Eleven-time AL All-Star (played in 13 games)
* Won the AL MVP Award in 1969
* No. 3 retired by Minnesota in 1975
* Hit 573 homers, No. 11 in MLB history
* Led the league in homers in 1959, '62, '63, '64, '67, '69
* Led the league in RBIs in 1962, '69, '71
* Killebrew's career stats
Born: June 29, 1936, in Payette, Idaho
High School: Payette
MLB debut: June 23, 1954
Final game: Sept. 26, 1975
Passed: May 17, 2011, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"MINNEAPOLIS -- Harmon Killebrew, the affable, big-swinging Hall of Famer whose tape-measure home runs made him the cornerstone of the Minnesota Twins and perhaps the most popular player in the team's 51-year history, died Tuesday after battling esophageal cancer. He was 74.
The Twins said Killebrew passed away peacefully at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Nita, and their family at his side. He announced his diagnosis just six months ago, and last week Killebrew said he was settling in for the final days of his life after doctors deemed the "awful disease" incurable...."