CLEARWATER, Fla.’”Phillies righthander Scott Mathieson started long-tossing from 150 feet for the first time this spring, now five months removed from the Tommy John surgery he had late last September.
Mathieson and righthander Scott Mitchinson (who had shoulder surgery the same week as Mathieson’™s) should be back by July, barring any setbacks.
“Since I woke up from surgery I haven’™t felt an ounce of pain,” Mathieson said, standing in front of his locker in the big league clubhouse. “It’™s been crazy. I’™m pretty much on schedule. I feel like I’™m ahead of schedule, but I know I need to take the full time to get back and not push it.”
“I could go out there right now. I haven’™t thrown any breaking stuff or anything but if they need somebody to throw fastballs, I’™m the guy. This is the best I’™ve felt in three, four years. It’™s been the best decision I ever made to do this’”I feel stronger than I ever did.”
TRIO OF TWINS DOWN
• Catching up from around the horn on injury issues, the Red Sox have had no serious injuries that will prevent anyone from breaking camp at the end of the month. The Twins had only two major injuries, as catchers Jose Leger and Miguel Barrientos will miss all of 2007.
Leger, a 24-year-old converted infielder that moved behind the plate last season, had shoulder surgery. Barrientos, who spent the last two years in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
The Twins are also concerned about the health of shortstop Steve Singleton, who hasn’™t been able to throw for the majority of the spring after being injured in an offseason car accident.
Singleton, the club’™s 11th-round pick last year out of San Diego, spent his debut season at Rookie-level Elizabethton where he hit .340/.368/.556 with 18 extra-base hits in 144 at-bats.
• The Twins have arguably the most diverse roster this spring’”with 18 countries represented. That includes the Czech Republic and Russia, where the club brought in three righthanders over the last two seasons.
Czech Republic natives Jakub Toufar and Jakub Hajtemar and 17-year-old Nikolay Lobanov won’™t arrive in camp until the full season clubs exit on April 1.
“We’™re trying something new this year and bringing in 22 players’”most of them foreign-born kids’”once extended camp begins,” farm director Jim Rantz said. “But talk about international flavor. Pretty soon we might sound like a hockey team.”