View from the other side: Twins questions for Jesse from Twinkie Town

Target Field Minnesota - Hannah Foslien

We start a series with the Minnesota Twins tonight. They sit at 6-6, 3rd in the AL Central.

Jesse, from Twinkie Town SB Nations great Twins site, and I exchanged questions about each other's team this morning. Thanks Jesse.

I have a hard time thinking of Joe Mauer as a first baseman, how is he handling the change of position?

He's played the position a bit over the last couple of years, but in those circumstances it was as a break from catcher and Mauer's responsibility was simply to field the position well enough to get through a nine-inning game. Now that it's his full-time gig, we saw a bit of the adjustment in spring training when he had two or three thinking-not-doing moments. Now he looks fine, and he looks natural. That's the thing about Mauer. No matter what he does on the field, he looks like he was born to do it. And he probably was.

Unlike my Blue Jays, you guys spent some money to fill the holes in your rotation. How are Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes doing?

Nolasco posted his first strong start of the season earlier this week against the Royals, which was good to see after a pair of sub-par performances. Hughes has pitched well, except in both of his starts he's had one big clunker of an inning. It's still pretty early, but I'm optimistic about Nolasco this season and Hughes should still be better than anything the Twins could have pushed, pulled, or dragged onto the mound last year.

It looks like we miss seeing Nolasco this trip, can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers we will see?

You'll see Hughes tonight, who is getting some swings-and-misses and he seems to be keeping hitters aggressive. I think it's all tied into the fact that he's not getting his pitches to his his marks quite yet, and as the big innings suggest - when the offense catches up to him, he gets hit hard. He's been going to the curve a bit more often this season than last year, which is closer to his career tendencies. But he still focuses a lot on the fastball, and regardless of how many varieties of fastball you might throw, it's still better to have some confidence in your off-speed selections.

Mike Pelfrey takes on R.A. Dickey tomorrow night. He's been giving up more fly balls than we're accustomed to - and a quarter of them have left the park. The sinker needs to sink a bit more, or that's going to keep on happening. I still think he's better than the sum of the numbers he put up in 2013, but he's yet to show it this year.

Then, on Thursday afternoon you'll get to see Kyle Gibson - the only Twins pitcher you're likely to see regularly over the next half decade (unless Nolasco actually sticks around for four years). The Twins had three starting options who were out of options this season who, along with Gibson, were fighting for that final rotation spot - so it was a surprise when the Twins went with the best pitcher and took a pass on guys who they could have lost. And Gibson has rewarded them so far, giving up just eight hits and two runs in 11.1 innings. The command hasn't been up to scratch but he's been able to get the outs he's really needed to get, and he's been very effective in his first two starts as a result. He operates with a low-90s fastball, a good low-80s slider and changeup, and an occasional curve. I still think he projects to be a low-end number two or a strong number three for a future Minnesota rotation.

The Twins are off to a fast start offensively, is this as big a surprise to Twins fans as it is to us folks that don't follow the team closely? What's driving all the offense?

It's absolutely a surprise. Josh Willingham, veteran masher, is on the DL; Oswaldo Arcia, minor league master crusher, is on the DL. Those were the two most powerful guys in the lineup. Dozier has already his four homers, catching prospect Josmil Pinto has hit three, and the guys who you'll probably see hit third, fourth, and fifth (Trevor Plouffe, Chris Colabello, and Jason Kubel) have all been surprisingly adept at producing runs.

It's not going to keep up, of course. So we're enjoying it while it lasts.

Who is your favorite Twin to watch?

It's really easy to say Mauer, simply because he's so fluid and makes everything look so easy. When you get a guy as naturally talented at hitting as he is, it's hard not to fall in love with him for all of the baseball reasons.

Other than Joe, I'd have to say Aaron Hicks and Pedro Florimon. They're both quick and very talented defensively - although a bit raw. But a few times a week they do something pretty amazing (countered by something equally as cringe-worthy, naturally).

I also like to watch Kubel and Colabello pretend to track balls in the outfield corners. If I don't laugh, I'll cry.

I had a kind of inexplicable fondness for Darin Mastroianni, what's his role on the team this year and how is he doing?

He was taken off the 40-man roster prior to the season, which was a bit of a surprise considering the lack of center field options the team had available. But when Alex Presley was placed and subsequently lost on waivers, it was only a matter of time before Maestro was back in the fold. It finally happened last week, due to an injury - he was re-added to the 40-man roster and recalled. His role is what it should be, which is the fourth outfielder who can play all three positions pretty well and not totally embarrass himself at the plate. He's a fine role player, and I think a lot of Twins fans have a soft spot for him, too.

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