Joe Mauer is officially moving to first base next season and the Twins aren’t quite sold that Josmil Pinto is ready to be an everyday catcher, so the goal is to bring in a new backstop this winter. And the wheels have already been put into motion.
According to beat writer LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota front office is “making progress” in negotiations with free agent A.J. Pierzynski, who was a third round draft pick of the Twins in 1994 and spent the first six years of his major league career (1998-2003) with the club.
Pierzynski, 36, batted .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI in 134 games this past season for the Rangers. It’s not clear how many other teams are interested, but he seems likely to land a two-year contract.
It’s been a busy couple weeks for the Twins, who recently signed Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.