This is the best time of the year for many Major League Baseball teams. The air is filled with swatted baseballs and the sweet smell of hope.
There are not yet any losses, so the realization that they will stink has not yet sunk in for many teams. Spring training is a time for optimism and positive spins.
Take the Twins.
The gloom and despair of last season’s 99 losses has been replaced by a sunshine-and-lollipops point of view. Especially with the pitching staff.
Did you hear the news?
Francisco Liriano has it all figured out. He now knows what it will take to become an elite pitcher, the type of pitcher he was back in 2006 when he went 12-3 with a 2.16 earned-run average in a remarkable rookie season.
Liriano told the Pioneer Press he “just worked on” his mechanics and worked on “staying tall, not getting too low.”
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said that if Liriano “stays tall from the start of his delivery, so he’s throwing downhill, he’s great.”
So, basically, Liriano is being told what we’re told as kids by our parents: “Don’t slouch. Stand up straight.”
Meantime, Brian Duensing has done some figuring out of his own. He had a losing record and an ERA over five last year but, the way he’s feeling, his record and ERA will improve because he now knows not to leave the ball up.
When he leaves the ball up, he says, it “looks like a softball to hitters.”
Other Twins pitchers also are making tweaks and adjustments.
It sounds like a lot of guys have figured out a lot of things.