As January slips away we can all rejoice in knowing that pitchers and catchers will be reporting in a few weeks. With Twins Fest this weekend, there hasn't been a lot of news, but the news we had was "Big News" as the Twins signed aging slugger...Jim Thome! The Twins will not need to add Thome to their 40-man roster until he passes his physical which he is taking this weekend. Thus, we won't know for a few more days who the Twins removed from their roster or if they created a spot by completing a trade.
Meanwhile, the baseball season is coming to an end down in the Caribbean. All the league championship series are complete with play now turning to the Caribbean Championship Series between the four league champions.
It had been reported by several sources that Francisco Liriano was done following his start about two weeks ago. Well, that wasn't the case. With Liriano's Escogido team facing Alexi Casilla's Gigante for the Dominican Championship, Liriano continued to pitch. He was the starter in a game Escogido lost last Saturday, 3-2. Liriano pitched 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 7K/0BB. Liriano returned to get the start in Thursday's critical game nine of the nine game series. Following his first ordinary outing of the winter, Liriano took the ball and pitched like the Ace he has been this winter.....pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 10K/1BB in a game Escogido would win 5-2 to clinch the Dominican championship. With spring training three weeks away, will Liriano continue to pitch in the Caribbean Series and report to spring training with NO rest?
Alexi Casilla had a great week for Gigante at 6-16 with a run scored, triple and 4 RBI as he finished the Dominican playoffs hitting .344 Average.
After finishing in fourth place 8.5 games out, Danny Valencia's Mayaguez squad won the Puerto Rico championship in five games. Valencia had a tough week as he went hitless in the first five games before a 2-5 night with a run scored and RBI in game five. For the week, Valencia was 2-26. Mike Maroth was the starter on Monday, pitching 4.1 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 3K/4BB in a game Mayaguez would lose, 7-6. Mayaguez won their semi-final series against Arecibo on Sunday in a game that Drew Butera was 1-3 with a run scored for the losers.
Wilson Ramos is playing for Caracus following another wonderful winter season for the Aragua Tigres. Caracus won the Venezuela playoffs last night, however, Ramos didn't appear in the critical game seven. For the week, Ramos was 2-6 as he saw playing time in three of the five games Caracus played.
The Twins will be represented on three of the four teams participating in the Caribbean championship, Caracus/Venezuela (Wilson Ramos), Mayaguez/Puerto Rico (Danny Valencia, Mike Maroth and Nelvin Fuentes), and Escogido/Dominican Republic (Francisco Liriano).