After the Minnesota Twins traded left-hander Francisco Liriano to Chicago last month, right-hander Samuel Deduno becomes the club’s only Black pitcher. Deduno is one of 21 Dominican-born players and the ninth Dominican pitcher to play for the Twins since 1961. He and fellow Dominican natives Alexi Casilla and Pedro Florimon joins Denard Span and Ben Revere as the only Blacks on this year’s squad.
Prior to signing as a free agent last November, Deduno’s major league experience had totaled four games for Colorado in 2010 and two games for San Diego in 2011. Otherwise, his entire professional baseball career has been mainly in the minors.
Asked if he ever thought that reaching the majors seemed like a lost cause, Deduno told the MSR, “All the way I’m thinking I can pitch in the big
Deduno “has a heck of a breaking ball,” admits Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire after the pitcher’s six-strikeout seventh-inning win over Detroit August 13. “He was buckling some guys and throwing some breaking balls. That tells you a little bit about his stuff.”
Gardenhire further explained, “When you see good hitters buckling, take a step back and swing at the pitch, you know that it is snapping really good.
When you see some left-handers with a breaking ball from a right-hander coming into them, and swinging and missing by a foot, you know he’s doing something. We saw that in spring training.”
Deduno can be wild at times — his pitches can have the catcher scrambling to keep it near the strike zone. “But honestly, he’s more effective this way,” continued the manager. “He keeps the hitters on edge because he misfires a little bit, and maybe that’s part of the mystique of him. That’s good in baseball — the batters can’t dig in. Maybe there’s not enough of that.”
That pitch could keep Deduno on the Twins’ badly-needing starting staff. “I would like to stay here and keep working,” said Deduno.
Meanwhile, Span is making his mark as a highlight-type centerfielder, and Revere is no slouch himself in right. “They both have speed, and they both can run down balls,” noted Gardenhire on Span and Revere. “They can cover some ground out there.”
Although he’s no Torii Hunter, his predecessor, Span has made his share of highlight catches in center field. “I think the best moments are when you see him come in [after making a great catch] and you see the smile on his face,” said Gardenhire of Span’s fielding gems.
After one such play last month against Chicago when Span climbed the wall and snatched a home run out of the stands, the fifth-year fielder also caught the replay on the stadium jumbo scoreboard as he ran off the field. “I think the fans appreciated it more when they saw the replay,” he recalled. “Ben was over there jumping around with me. It was a fun catch.”
Added Gardenhire, “He works really hard on his defense. He takes a lot of ground balls during BP [batting practice].”
“I don’t chase every ball in batting practice,” Span pointed out.
“I think he’s one of the top players in the game,” said Revere, who plays right field, of his outfield mate.
After starting the season with the parent club, then twice optioned to Rochester, Revere will become only the fourth player in club history to post consecutive 30-steal seasons. And Span has a good chance to become the 10th Twins outfielder all-time to get 40 doubles in a season.
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