Boof Bonser

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Posted by kaori 04/15/2009 @ 00:14

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News headlines
Leading Off: Red Sox head to Minnesota - NESN.com
Right-hander Boof Bonser is on the 15-day DL. Left-hander Glen Perkins on the 15-day DL because of his elbow but says the tingling in his fingers is gone, and he could start throwing again as early as Tuesday. Right-hander Pat Neshek is on the 60-day...
Mauer's lunge is instant classic - Minneapolis Star Tribune
He is not on the 40-man roster, but the Twins could add him by moving Boof Bonser to the 60-day disabled list. As for who would be cut, Gardenhire didn't name names, but he showed how little confidence he has in Luis Ayala when he let Craig Breslow...
Twins closer Nathan is unsung -- and that's just the way he likes it - SI.com
San Francisco got a 12-4, 2.96 season of middle relief out of Nathan in 2003 -- 78 appearances, no saves, no starts -- but sent him to Minnesota with starters Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for catcher AJ Pierzynski in November....
Rachel Alexandra a threat to outrun the boys in Preakness - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The Minnesota Twins justifiably received credit for obtaining pitchers Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser from the San Francisco Giants for catcher AJ Pierzynski in November 2003, but a more recent deal (November 2007) could go down as the...

Boof Bonser

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Boof Bonser (born John Paul Bonser on October 14, 1981 in St. Petersburg, Florida) is a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. He legally changed his name to Boof after the 2001 season. MLB.com listed Boof as the best current nickname in baseball.

Bonser attended Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. In four years he compiled a record of 24-9 and a 1.99 ERA. In his senior year, he went 7-3, 1.88 and hit .523 with 11 home runs. He was named the 2000 Pinellas County (FL) High School Player of the Year and played in the 2000 Florida State All-Star game.

Bonser was selected out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (21st overall) of the 2000 amateur draft. Bonser made his professional baseball debut at age 18 for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. In 2001 he had a breakout season for the Hagerstown Suns, leading the South Atlantic League in wins (16), and finishing second in the league in strikeouts (178). This stellar performance earned Bonser South Atlantic League Most Valuable Pitcher and Post-Season All-Star honors, as well as the distinction of being one of baseball's best prospects. It was after this season that Bonser legally changed his name from John Paul to Boof, a nickname he had had since childhood.

From 2002 to 2003 Bonser cooled down, but nonetheless progressed steadily through the Giants' system, reaching the Triple-A level at the end of the 2003 season with the Fresno Grizzlies. On November 14, 2003, Bonser was traded to the Minnesota Twins organization along with pitchers Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for catcher A. J. Pierzynski, and cash. Bonser was assigned to AA New Britain for 2004, and was promoted to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings for a spot start at the end of the season, then spent the entire 2005 season in Rochester.

As Bonser continued to pitch in the minors without any further breakout seasons, his status as an elite prospect faded. But after a fast start at Rochester in 2006 in which he posted an ERA of 2.01, Bonser was promoted to the majors.

On May 17, 2006, Boof Bonser was called up to the Twins to replace struggling starter Kyle Lohse in the rotation, with Lohse going to Triple-A. Bonser made his major league debut on May 21, as the starting pitcher for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. In six innings, Bonser allowed one run and struck out eight. On May 27, his second start, Bonser earned his first Major League victory, getting the win in a 9-5 Minnesota Twins victory. Bonser pitched just five innings, giving up eight hits and four runs, including a home run.

His second win came against the Chicago Cubs on June 24. He pitched 6⅓ scoreless innings, allowing six hits and no walks, with one strikeout.

After a disappointing start against the Kansas City Royals on July 4, Bonser was demoted back to Triple-A Rochester. He had made seven MLB starts and gone 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA. After spending a month at Rochester, Bonser was called up to make an emergency start on August 2 in place of the injured Francisco Liriano. He was sent back down to Rochester after the game, in which he gave up seven runs in four innings.

By August 12 Liriano had been placed on the DL, and Bonser was back in Minneapolis to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Although he lost the game, allowing seven hits and three runs over 5⅔ innings, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to keep him in the starting rotation. As the Twins pushed for a playoff spot in 2006, Bonser solidified the fifth starter's job. Then, a string of injuries and ineffective pitching by the other Twins pitchers and Bonser's commanding recent performances earned him the #2 spot in the Twins postseason rotation. In his postseason start, he pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball to pick up a no-decision as the Twins lost to the Oakland Athletics.

Bonser was named the AL Rookie of the Month for September, 2006 for his performances in the final month of the season.

Bonser began the 2007 season as the second pitcher in the Twins rotation, behind top starter Johan Santana and followed by Ramón Ortiz, Sidney Ponson, and Carlos Silva. Bonser's first two starts were dramatically different, as he followed his 6 IP, 2 ER debut with a 4⅓ IP, 6 ER debacle to put his season record at 0-1. He then responded with a string of quality starts but dropped all but two of eleven decisions after Memorial Day. He finished the season with an 8-12 record with an earned run average of 5.10 and had 136 strikeouts in 173 innings pitched.

After the 2007 season, the Twins organization became worried about Boof Bonser’s weight. He had struggled with stamina and pitching late into ball games during the 2007 season so the Twins encourage him to lose weight. He lost weight by eating healthier and doing more intense exercise. He lost 30 pounds by the start of the 2008 regular season and he currently weighs 245 pounds. Boof Bonser pitched the second game in the 2008 Twins season, the only returning starter on the team with at least 12 games of experience from the previous season.

Unfortunately, Boof Bonser’s weight loss did not help his starting pitching performances through May 31, where he went 2-6 with a 6.16 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen to make room for teammate Scott Baker.

After being demoted to the bullpen, Boof pitched his first relief appearance for the Minnesota Twins on June 4 against the Baltimore Orioles. In that game he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four, and picking up the win.

Through August 23, Boof has a 6.29 ERA overall and a 6.96 ERA as a reliever.

On February 25, 2009, Bonser underwent surgery to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, and will likely miss the entire 2009 season.

Bonser's pitching repertoire includes a live fastball with a fair amount of movement in the 91-94 mph range. He offsets it with a 78-80 mph curveball, which often breaks sharply downwards, and also occasionally throws a changeup. He often establishes his fastball to get ahead of hitters, and then throws the curveball down and in to left-handers or down and away to right-handers, forcing them to chase it. While none of his pitches can be considered overpowering, Bonser has shown an ability to record strikeouts in critical situations, once pitching his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by striking out three Seattle Mariners' hitters in a row in his second Major League start on May 27, 2006.

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2006 Minnesota Twins season

The Minnesota Twins 2006 season ended with Minnesota finishing the regular season as champions of the American League Central Division, but were swept in three games by the Oakland Athletics in the 2006 American League Division Series.

The Twins stumbled out of the gate after the death of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett in late March, accumulating a dismal 25-33 record by June 7. Around that time, the team dropped underperforming veterans like Tony Batista, Juan Castro, and Kyle Lohse, replacing them with talented rookies from the Rochester Red Wings. The Twins went 9-1 in their next ten games, evening their record at 34-34. Interleague play was particularly generous to the team; the Twins had Major League Baseball's best Interleague record at 16 wins and 2 losses. By July 26 the team had won 44 of 52 games, leaving them tied with the White Sox at 59-41, but still 8.5 games behind the division-leading Tigers.

As the season neared its conclusion, the Twins continued to put distance between them and the White Sox, while gaining on the Tigers. A key series starting on September 7 saw the Twins take three out of four from the Tigers. And after a commanding win in Boston on September 19, the Twins found themselves within a half game of the Central-leading Tigers. On September 25, the Twins beat Kansas City 8-1 to secure an American League playoff berth.

The Tigers led the season series, so a tie at the end of the season between the Tigers and Twins would have meant the Twins get the wild card. Instead, the Tigers were swept by 100-game-losers Kansas City to end the season, and the Twins took one of three from the White Sox, giving the Twins their fourth AL Central title in five years. It was the first time in major league history that a team clinched on the last day of the season after never having held sole possession of first place.

For the first time since 1987, the Twins had legitimate power hitters in Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, and Michael Cuddyer. On August 9, Morneau became the first Twin to hit 30 or more home runs since 1987, when Tom Brunansky, Gary Gaetti, and Kent Hrbek did it.

Morneau finished the season with 34 home runs, 130 runs batted in, and a .321 average and was named American League MVP.

Hunter enjoyed a late season surge to also reach the 30 home run mark. On September 25, he homered off Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke in the bottom of the 7th inning and became the second Twin to hit 30 home runs in 2006. He finished the season with 31 home runs and 98 runs batted in.

Michael Cuddyer also had a breakout season as the Twins' cleanup hitter. He did not start the season as a regular player, but eventually replaced the ineffective opening day right fielder, Jason Kubel. By June, he was hitting fourth in the lineup, and he finished the season with 24 home runs, 109 runs batted in, scored 102 runs, and hit for a .284 average.

Morneau and catcher Joe Mauer may have finally earned the nickname "The M&M Boys", that had been prematurely applied to them early in the 2005 season. (This was the nickname applied to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in the early 1960s.) Not only did Mauer win the American League batting title, but he led the major leagues with a .347 average, finishing ahead of National League champion Freddy Sanchez. Mauer was the first catcher to lead either the American League or the majors in hitting. Two catchers did win the National League batting title. Bubbles Hargrave of the Cincinnati Reds did it in 1926. Ernie Lombardi led the National League twice: once for the Reds in 1938 and once for the Boston Braves in 1942. However, neither catcher won the major league title.

These strong hitters were complemented by the top and bottom of the Twins' order, where the players gave the hitters plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. Midway through the season, the Twins opted for a lineup that included Jason Tyner batting eighth, Jason Bartlett ninth, Luis Castillo first, and Nick Punto second. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that these players are like four leadoff hitters: all are fast and hit for average but not power. All four hit between .290 (Punto) and .312 (Tyner), but hit a combined six home runs.

The Twins led the Major Leagues in batting average with a team average of .287.

For much of the season, the Twins' starting rotation was its most apparent weakness. This is surprising, because the 2005 Minnesota Twins had one of the strongest rotations in baseball. The team started the season with a rotation of Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse, and Scott Baker. By September, only Santana could be counted on for a full, effective start.

Baker was not effective and was quickly demoted to the minors, though he came back a couple times and had a couple competent starts. Lohse was ineffective, surly, and traded to the Cincinnati Reds midway through the season. Radke started slowly but seemed to find his form, providing some consistency to the number two spot before being sidelined with a torn labrum and a stress fracture in his right shoulder. Silva was unable to find his 2005 form, finishing the season with an ERA of 5.94. He did make a few strong starts in September before regressing.

On May 19, talented rookie Francisco Liriano entered the starting rotation. He pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth, finishing with a 12-3 record and a minuscule ERA of 2.16. Unfortunately, he was sidelined after the All-Star break with elbow problems. He did not pitch at all in 2007, as he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Boof Bonser had an up-and-down season, but finished strong with a 7-6 record and 4.22 ERA. This earned him a spot in the postseason rotation. Matt Garza was the team's top pitching prospect, but was inconsistent during his first partial year in the majors.

The Twins had one of baseball's best bullpens. Dennys Reyes, signed to a minor-league deal during the offseason, provided a pleasant surprise with an excellent season as the Twins' sole left-handed reliever. Right-handers Jesse Crain and Juan Rincón set the stage throughout the season for closer Joe Nathan, with homegrown rookie Pat Neshek contributing some solid innings after being recalled from the minor leagues in July. Pitchers like Willie Eyre and Matt Guerrier ate up innings when the starters faltered.

The Twins finished tied for second place in the American League with a .986 fielding percentage.. The team's defense was noticeably stronger when the left side of the infield was revamped in June, when the team traded shortstop Juan Castro to Cincinnati and released third baseman Tony Batista. Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto stepped into those roles, providing an immediate upgrade.

After the Twins won the division, the American League playoff matchups were decided as follows: number two seed Minnesota hosting number three seed Oakland, and number one seed New York hosting the wild card Detroit.

The Twins were defeated by Oakland in a three-game sweep, ending their playoff run for 2006. The Twins got great starts from both Johan Santana and Boof Bonser (who made his first post season appearance) at the Metrodome. After losing game 1 by the score of 3-2, the Twins came back to even the score at 2 in game 2. With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the 7th inning, Mark Kotsay hit a line drive to center field that Torii Hunter made a valiant dive for. Unfortunately, the ball sailed past him all the way to the wall, resulting in an inside-the-park home run for Kotsay. This play seemed to take all the momentum away from the Twins. The Twins never led in any game in this series.

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2000 San Francisco Giants season

AT&T Park

The San Francisco Giants, an American baseball team, won the National League West Championship. The team played their first season in newly opened Pacific Bell Park.

June 5, 2000: Boof Bonser was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round (21st pick) of the 2000 amateur draft. Player signed July 3, 2000.

New York wins series, 3-1.

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Ramón Ortiz

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Ramón Diogenes Ortiz Ortiz (born May 24, 1973, in Cotui, Dominican Republic) is a professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants organization. He has previously pitched in Major League Baseball for the Anaheim Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, and Colorado Rockies. His best season was 2002, when he went 15-9 with a 3.77 ERA for the Angels.

In 1999, he led all major league pitchers in strikeouts, with 225.

On September 4, 2006, Ortiz took a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Cardinals before having it broken up by the first batter in the 9th, Aaron Miles. Ortiz also hit his first career home run in the same game. It was a solo shot off of St. Louis reliever Jorge Sosa. Ortiz was three outs away from becoming the third no-hit pitcher in Major League Baseball who had homered in the same game, joining Earl Wilson (1962) and Rick Wise (1971).

On January 19, 2007, Ortiz signed with the Minnesota Twins for a one-year deal worth $3.1 million dollars. Ortiz began the season as the third starter, behind Johan Santana and Boof Bonser and ahead of Sidney Ponson and Carlos Silva. However, after a disappointing start to the season, Ortiz was moved to the bullpen. On August 15, 2007, Ortiz was traded to the Colorado Rockies in return for minor leaguer Matt Macri. He became a free agent following the season.

On April 1, 2008, Ortiz was signed by the Orix Buffaloes of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.

On February 10, 2009, Ortiz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the San Francisco Giants.

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Joe Nathan

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Joseph Michael Nathan (born November 22, 1974 in Houston, Texas) is a closer in Major League Baseball who plays for the Minnesota Twins. He bats and throws right-handed, and stands at a height of 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m). He started playing baseball as a shortstop in high school, and played the same position in college. However, he became a pitcher after the San Francisco Giants drafted him in 1995. After working his way through the minor leagues, he alternated between spots in the rotation and the bullpen. He spent a few seasons splitting time between the majors and the minors before having a breakout season as a relief pitcher in 2003. Nathan joined the Minnesota Twins in 2004 as their closing pitcher, and continues to hold that position.

Joe Nathan attended Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, New York, where he played basketball and baseball and ran track. He graduated in 1992. However, only Division III colleges showed even minimal interest in having him play for their program. Nathan ended up playing college baseball at Stony Brook University as a result of his baseball coach and Stony Brook's coach having a history; Pine Bush assistant baseball coach Jeff Masionet and Stony Brook baseball coach Matt Senk played college baseball together at State University of New York at Cortland.

Nathan played college baseball as a shortstop at Division I SUNY Stony Brook. He became a two-time Academic All-American, and graduated as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. During his tenure there, professional baseball scouts began to notice his good arm and pitcher's body, and on a day where a game was rained out, "literally someone from every organization" came to watch him pitch. He was then drafted in the sixth round of the amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants in 1995, and signed on June 2, a day after being drafted. His college jersey number has since been retired, and he has been given the University Medal, the highest recognition given by the university. Joe also played for the Fairfield Stallions in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 1994.

Nathan began his minor league career playing class A ball for the Bellingham Giants. After an unsuccessful year at the plate, the Giants tried to convert Nathan into a pitcher, but he refused to do that and left the game. He went back to Stony Brook for a year, graduating with a degree in business management. After he graduated, Nathan returned to the Giants organization and became a standout pitching prospect. After a season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, he played at both the A and AA levels (the San Jose Giants and Shreveport Captains) in 1998 as a starter. During his tenure with San Jose, he started 22 games, earned an ERA of 3.32 with 118 strikeouts, and led the Giants to the California League Championship. He played two games in Shreveport in 1999 before receiving his promotion to the big-league club in 1999.

Joe Nathan was recalled from Shreveport on April 20, taking the roster spot of Barry Bonds, who was sent to the disabled list after undergoing surgery on his left elbow. He made his major league debut the next day on April 21, 1999, pitching seven shutout innings and winning his first major-league decision in a 4–0 win. He split time the rest of the season between the AAA-affiliate Fresno Grizzlies and the Giants, posting a 6–4 record at AAA and a 7–4 record at the major league level, as well as earning his first career save on May 16. After playing in the minors for a short time in 2000, Nathan spent most of the season in the majors, finishing the season with a 5-2 record. He also hit two home runs during the 2000 season. He spent two stints on the disabled list: from May 17 to June 6 due to right shoulder tendinitis, and from July 14 to August 18 due to right shoulder inflammation. At the end of the season, Nathan had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, and as a result spent the 2001 season in the minors.

During the 2001 season, Nathan spent part of the season at AAA Fresno, but had a disappointing ERA of 7.77, and some time at AA Shreveport, where he played both as a starter and a reliever. He finished the season a combined 3-11 with an ERA over 7, and the 2002 season saw him earn an ERA of over 5 at Fresno with a 6-12 record. However, Nathan worked his way back up to the majors, and at the start of the 2003 season he was back with the Giants. This transition came with marriage as well; Nathan married Lisa Lemoncelli, his girlfriend of five years, in November 2002. The 2003 season was a breakout year for Nathan, as he pitched his way to a 12-4 record in his first season as a reliever. His 78 appearances put him high on the list of most-used pitchers for the season, and he allowed no runs in a span of 15 appearances from July 18 to August 20. He had 12 wins as a reliever, the most during that season.

Nathan was traded from the Giants to the Minnesota Twins on November 16, 2003. The Giants sent Nathan along with pitchers Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski and cash. The Twins decided to make Nathan their closer for the 2004 season. This was a risky move, as Nathan had only one save in six opportunities as a Giant. Nathan had the inside track on the job, competing against J.C. Romero and Jesse Crain. He was signed to a three-year deal on March 4, 2004; Nathan agreed to an intentionally incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $440,000. Nathan won the closing job in Spring Training, and started off the season strong. Nathan allowed no runs in 20 appearances, from April 15 to June 4, and earned 14 saves during the same period. Nathan was also named the American League Co-Player of the Week for the week of May 10, after pitching four innings for the week, earning 4 saves in 4 appearances and facing the minimum number of batters in each appearance. His credentials for the first half of the season, converting 23 saves in 24 opportunities with a 1.19 ERA in 26 appearances, led to his first All-Star appearance in the 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He was the only Twin to earn a spot in the game. He pitched the seventh inning of the All-Star Game, getting Bobby Abreu to strike out, Mike Lowell to fly out, and Miguel Cabrera to strike out. Nathan continued to post impressive numbers throughout the rest of the season, while allowing no runs between June 9 and August 18, and between August 25 and September 16. Nathan finished the 2004 season with 44 saves in 47 opportunities, and an ERA of 1.72. Nathan also earned MVP and Cy Young votes, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting and twelfth in MVP voting. With the end of the first season came the birth of his first son, Cole, on November 9, 2004.

During spring training in 2005, when Nathan signed two year deal that includes club option for 2008. In 2005, Joe Nathan picked up from where he left off in 2004, allowing no earned runs in 15 appearances from April 5 to May 10. He also had streaks of 13 and 12 consecutive save opportunities converted between April and July. As a result, Nathan was named the American League Player of the Week for the week of June 27. Nathan earned another all-star appearance in 2005 for his pitching in the first half of the season. Although his record was 1-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 37 appearances, he had struck out 43 batters in 35.1 innings pitched, and lead the AL with 23 saves in 25 opportunities. Nathan pitched in the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game alongside fellow pitcher Johan Santana. Pitching the eighth inning of the game, he got Morgan Ensberg to pop out for the first out, then gave out a double to Moisés Alou. Felipe López singled, and Nathan was able to get Miguel Cabrera and Luis Castillo out, but not before Alou scored. Nathan finished the season with a 7-4 record, a 2.70 ERA, 43 saves, and a career-high 94 strikeouts. Nathan also became the third pitcher in club history to post consecutive 40 save seasons.

Before the 2006 season began, Nathan participated in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as one of the 30 players selected for the Team USA roster. He played the first game, a 2-0 win against Mexico, striking out the side while allowing one hit. He also pitched the 4-3 victory against Japan, again throwing a shutout inning. Nathan went on to pitch the last game for the United States in the ninth inning against Mexico, again not allowing a run and striking out two.

As the regular 2006 season began for the Twins, Nathan started off strong, allowing no runs from the start of the season to April 25. He also converted 10 straight save opportunities from April 11 to June 17. He recorded his one hundredth career save against the Chicago Cubs on June 24, his 99th save with Minnesota. Four days later he got save number 101, his hundredth save with Minnesota against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the fifth pitcher in Twins history to achieve that mark. Despite putting up great numbers during the 2006 season, Nathan did not make it to the 2006 All-Star Game. He continued to pitch well throughout the season, passing Eddie Guardado for second on the Twins' all-time save list when he earned his 117th save against the Detroit Tigers on September 9. Nathan was also given the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month award for July, going 9 for 9 in save opportunities and posting a 0.75 ERA for the month. He finished the season with some of his best numbers to date: a 7-0 record, a 1.58 ERA, 95 strikeouts, 36 saves, an 18th place finish in MVP voting, and a fifth place finish in Cy Young voting. His 61 games finished were also good for the AL lead. With 36 saves in 38 opportunities, Nathan also became the first pitcher for the organization to earn 35 saves in three straight seasons.

Nathan continued as the Twins closer for the 2007 season. He converted 37 of 41 save opportunities and finished the season with a record of 4–2 and an ERA of 1.88.

On September 25, 2007, Nathan was named as one of 10 finalists for the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award," the third year in a row that he has been a finalist. On October 29, the Twins exercised Nathan's club option for 2008.

Though Nathan was slated to make $6 million in 2008, On March 24, 2008, the Minnesota Twins re-signed Nathan to a four-year, $47 million contract through 2011. The deal also includes a $12.5 million club option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout.

On July 6, 2008, Nathan was announced as a reserve player for the American League in the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

On May 27, 2008, Nathan blew his first save of the season by giving up an inside-the-park home run that scored three runs due to a misplayed ball by teammate Delmon Young; however, Nathan got two outs to end the 9th inning and the Twins went on to win the game.

In the 2008 season he was 39/45 in save opportunities with a 1.33 ERA and 74 strikeouts. He ranked seventh in the MLB in saves and had the lowest ERA of the top 30 save leaders in 2008.

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Francisco Liriano

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Francisco Casillas Liriano (born October 26, 1983, in Juan Barón, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic) is a left-handed Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.

Liriano was acquired by the Twins in one of the more lopsided (in the Twins favor) trades in baseball history. He was traded as a throw-in prospect by the San Francisco Giants along with closer Joe Nathan and starter Boof Bonser in exchange for catcher A. J. Pierzynski (now of the Chicago White Sox). Pierzynski was released after just one season with the Giants. Often compared to former teammate Johan Santana, another hard-throwing lefty, Liriano was touted as one of the "super-prospects" within the Minnesota Twins organization. In 2005, he led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts, with 204.

He made his major league debut in relief on September 5, 2005, against the Texas Rangers. He later joined the Twins' starting rotation and won his first game on September 30, 2005, against the Detroit Tigers. Liriano started the 2006 season in Minnesota's bullpen, but was promoted to the starting rotation in May, exchanging positions with struggling starter Carlos Silva. He won each of his first three starts.

After a 12-3 start to the 2006 season, which included two Rookie of the Month nods and a spot on the American League All-Star roster, Liriano led the Major Leagues with a 2.19 ERA, statistics putting him in discussion for both the American League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, but a trip to the disabled list on August 11 left him with too few innings to qualify as the league's official ERA leader and jeopardized his chances at any such awards in 2006. On August 1, 2006, Liriano was scratched from his scheduled August 2 start because of forearm inflammation after a bullpen session. He missed one start before resuming bullpen work without pain, but was placed on the disabled list after continued arm pain during his last start on August 7, 2006. Liriano began a rehabilitation program on August 22, and threw off a mound for the first time on August 30, throwing only his fastball and changeup, and said that he would like to pitch his breaking ball later that week. Liriano made a rehab start for the Rochester Red Wings on September 9, throwing 40 pitches for four strikeouts and one walk in three shutout, hitless innings. After the game, Liriano reported feeling no pain in his elbow and was reactivated by the Twins. On September 13, 2006, Liriano started for the Minnesota Twins in an afternoon game vs. the Oakland Athletics and went two-plus innings before leaving the game in the third inning with pain in his left elbow, ending his 2006 campaign.

On November 6, 2006, Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery to curtail the pain in his left elbow. Liriano missed the entire 2007 season.

On April 11, 2008, Liriano was recalled from Triple-A Rochester in the place of injured pitcher Kevin Slowey. Liriano made his season debut and his first game since Tommy John surgery on April 13, against the Royals. Liriano pitched 4.2 innings giving up six hits, four earned runs and walking five while picking up a loss.

On April 25, 2008, Liriano was sent back to the minors after a rough start to the season coming of Tommy John surgery. In three starts, he compiled an 0-3 record with an 11.32 ERA.

After recording an ERA of 2.67 and going 10-0 in his 11 most recent minor league starts, the Twins recalled Liriano on August 1, 2008, from Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, replacing Livan Hernandez in the rotation. Hernandez was designated for assigment. In his first start after being recalled, Liriano pitched six scoreless innings and struck out five, recording the win.

Liriano's arrival in the United States for 2008 Spring Training was delayed due to visa problems caused by a prior drunk driving arrest in 2006. Francisco and Johanna Liriano became parents on April 4, 2008. Their boy, Kevin Liriano, weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces.

Prior to undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery late in the 2006 season, his fastball was often in the mid to high 90s, which combined with a ferocious slider and good change-up lead to a large number of strike outs. Since returning from Tommy John surgery his fastball has dropped a bit in velocity, typically ranging from the high eighties to low 90s, occasionally as high as 95. He throws a slider with less movement and velocity, as well as an occasional breaking ball in the mid 70s. Like his former Twins team mate, Johan Santana, he mixes in a strong change-up and racked up a large number of strike outs with it during the 2006 season. He can no longer utilize his slider as an out pitch because of the loss of movement and velocity. He has had to turn to hitting the corners with his fastball and changing pitch speed.

It remains to be seen if he can re-capture his previous success following Tommy John surgery, as he struggled in his return to the majors at the beginning of the 2008 season. After returning from the minors after the All-Star break, however, he went 3-0 in his first three starts with a 1.45 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings despite some control issues.

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Mike Smith (2000s pitcher)

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Michael Anthony "Mike" Smith (born September 19, 1977 in Norwood, Massachusetts) is a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round of the 2000 amateur draft at the end of his college career at the University of Richmond. He played in 14 games for the Blue Jays in 2002, starting six and posting an ERA of 6.62. The Minnesota Twins acquired Smith from the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2005-2006 offseason, but he was not on the Twins' 40-man roster. However, inconsistent pitching from Scott Baker and Boof Bonser and shoulder problems for Brad Radke prompted the Twins to call him up to the major leagues on August 2, 2006. Smith has signed with the York Revolution of the Atlantic League for the 2009 season.

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Source : Wikipedia