The Twins are about to have too many pitchers, and tonight's starter Yohan Pino might be squeezed out of the rotation. Ricky Nolasco will throw a bullpen session at Target Field on Wednesday, and if he reports no problems he'll probably start Friday.
Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia have been big league regulars for nearly a decade apiece. Neither has ever participated in the postseason, and until a few days ago it looked like neither would sniff the playoffs this year with the Twins.
But suddenly via trades — Willingham to the suddenly hot Royals and Correia to the Dodgers — both have the postseason in their sights.
The Royals have won eight in a row and moved past the slumping Tigers into first place in the AL Central on Monday. Correia made his Dodgers debut on the same night, pitching six innings of one-run ball to get the win.
It must be a completely difference scene from what either player has experienced in his career-to-date. Correia pitched for some bad Giants, Padres, Pirates and, yes, Twins teams. Willingham was with the Marlins, Washington, Oakland (they were 74-88 in his one season) and since 2012 with the Twins.
Usually this is the time of year both can settle in and play out the string. Instead, they both will find themselves in the heat of pennant races.
The preseason gives young, inexperienced players an increased amount of snaps after the starters exit at some point in the first half.
That was the case for rookie safety Antone Exum and rookie guard David Yankey, who led the Vikings in snaps on offense and defense during the preseason opener against the Raiders on Friday.
Exum received a team-high 60 snaps, which counted for 90 percent of the plays on defense. He also had an additional 13 snaps on special teams. Exum finished with two tackles.
Defensive coordinator George Edwards said Exum received more snaps due to the injuries at the position. Robert Blanton, Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo all did not play due to injury. Newly-acquired safety Chris Crocker also did not play after signing with the team last week.
“He did a good job, does a good job communicating,” said Edwards on Exum’s performance. “There are some things I think from that being his first game out there that he was surprised by. The communication is the biggest part for a young guy because you get so many things formationally from the other offense that we probably didn’t practice going into that game. Our concern was more with us and what we’re doing as opposed to what they were trying to do offensively.”
Yankey led the offense with 43 snaps, playing in 61 percent of the offensive plays. He also received one snap on special teams.
The left guard was used in 20 snaps on run plays and 23 snaps as a pass blocker, per Pro Football Focus. He allowed one of six sacks in the game.
“I thought that he really had a stretch at the beginning where he played pretty well,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “I thought that he got a little tired and in the end of the game, in the last part, he was not has physical as he was early. He might have had a couple of bad plays late, but I thought that at the first time out, he probably played 35 to 40 plays. He played two-thirds of the game. He got a lot of work and it was good for him. Again, I just think that the Raiders are a very physical defensive front. I think they’re a talented defensive front. They have depth, so he was challenged, I think, throughout the time he played.”