Bradke Ball, volume XI, edition I

So maybe yesterday's post did put the jinx on the Twinks after all. But more likely, it's just that the Twins were struck with a typical bout of Bradke Ball, wherein the team's once and forever "ace," Brad Radke, does what he usually does: Give up a home run or two in the first three innings before settling down.

Since Balls thus far is a statistics-free zone, I won't dig up any numbers to back the assertion, other than to say this: Make a bet that someone will go yard on Bradke in the first third of the next game he pitches, and you'll find some easy coin indeed.

In fact, the whole game was typical of the team when it has slumped the last few seasons: Uninspired, non-gritty pitching from Radke, Hunter subsequently pressing too much at the plate, runners left stranded in frustratingly key situations.

(And a new one: Morneau stepping out of the bucket and swinging at every inside pitch yesterday. Someone tell the kid to only swing at pitches on the outer half of the plate before the whole league figures out how to pitch him tight.)

One possible bright spot, though it's far too early to tell for sure: The better-late-than-never maturity of Jacque Jones and Luis Rivas.

Jones actually walked twice in a recent spring training game, something I don't recall the free swinger ever doing. Yesterday, he looked selective, getting hit by a pitch and stroking a double. (And he had one great catch in right.)

Rivas, easily the biggest disappointment in the organization now that Christian Guzman is gone, had the kind of spring training where some were wondering if he'd make the trip north on the opening day roster. He's since had some good wood at the plate (though no key hits), and has managed a few flashy moments in the field. He's the leader in a very young infield now, and it looks as though he might finally lead by example.

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