Before we get to three thoughts, I just learned from a Twins official that former manager Ron Gardenhire's surgery at the Mayo Clinic went well. Gardenhire was diagnosed with prostate cancer during the offseason but still worked spring training as the bench coach for the Diamondbacks before traveling to Mayo. He was in good spirits after the surgery, and is expected to spend the next few weeks in Minnesota recovering.
Three thoughts from LEN3 following the Twins 11-4 loss to Cleveland
Hughes didn't have his change up: Phil Hughes spent all of spring training working on his change-of-pace pitch and threw it a lot during his first two starts of the regular season. But he ditched it in the first inning on Tuesday when he couldn't get the right feel for it. "It was awful in the bullpen," he said. Lonnie Chisenhall's RBI single came on a change up that was barely off the ground. A decent one, Hughes said. I asked him is there opportunities in a game for him to try throwing it in hope that he gets that feeling back. Not against the Indians, he said. They have a few hitters who already are good change up hitters. He wouldn't want to try throwing a bad one to them. Hughes ended up using a lot of cut fastballs on Thursday. He missed spots with a few and that led to his early exit. Cleveland hitters likely noticed that the changeup was missing on Tuesday and began looking for fastballs. Tough to pitch effectively that way.
Kepler's miss: Last year, Max Kepler badly misplayed a foul ball in Anaheim. He answered all of our questions after the game. "I'm going to wear it." I remember him saying then. Once again, Kepler stood and faced the music after dropping a very routine fly ball that extended the first inning for the Indians and made Phil Hughes throw ten more pitches - ending with 31. "I took my eye off it. I missed it." he said. Kepler said he has to have a short memory and return on Wednesday looking for ways to win games. "I can only hope that my teammates come back the same way that I'm trying, to come to the ballpark every day and come together as a group."
Signs of hope for Rosario: We have focused on the struggles of Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer during the opening weeks of the season. Eddie Rosario has been is the same spot, too. But Rosario had two hits on Tuesday to give him four over the last two days. Rosario is known as a free swinger but looks like he's making an effort to swing at more strikes.
I've always liked Michael Brantley's game. He's a good outfielder who can hit but had to battle through two shoulder surgeries over the last 17 months. I wrote for the dead tree edition that he's had his issues here. He suffered through heat exhaustion in 2011 after playing a doubleheader here in 90 degree weather. And he initially injured his shoulder while diving after a Aaron Hicks drive late in the 2015 season. Brantley homered on Monday and was 2-for-4 with three runs scored on Tuesday. So he's getting his licks in. Here's another interesting thing about Brantley: He's a Vikings fan. When asked why, he said he started following the Vikings because his father, former major leaguer Mickey Brantley, followed them. Mickey Brantley was born in Catskill, N.Y. and played with Seattle for four seasons. So I'm not sure where his fondness for the purple originated..