Saturday, March 15, 2008

Livan and Jesse need our help

Only a couple weeks left of spring training. Two Twins players who have struggled a bit down there in Ft. Myers need our help.

Livan Hernandez: A veteran acquired in the off season, Livan is listed as the third starter (this from the Twins web site, which admittedly isn't always the best source).

So far as I know, Livan doesn’t have a nickname. His brother Orlando has a very cool nickname —El Duque. I think the nickname helped Orlando and the lack of a nickname held Livan back. A nickname is a powerful thing. It confers some sense of belonging, a touch of confidence, and sometimes a little pressure (that is, something to live up to).

Remember Carl “Big Train” Willis, who pitched for the Twins in the early 1990’s? He’s the pitching coach for the Indians now. That was a cool nickname. Gave Willis a little cachet. Walter Johnson was also sometimes called Big Train.

So, Livan needs a nickname. Here are several possibilities.

LivanLento Tren” Hernandez. It means ‘slow train.’ His out pitch is the slow curve (and he even has a slow fastball, if that’s not an oxymoron). A train, even a slow one, is powerful and relentless. The name would probably get shortened to Tren or Train, which wouldn’t be bad. And if he really went sour, we could start calling him Train Wreck.

Or how about LivanEl Teniente” Hernandez -- the Lieutenant.

Or “El Principe” -- the Prince. That has a nice Minnesota connection. And it could be a reference to his brother’s nickname; doesn’t a prince outrank a duke? Kind of like the Waner brothers: Paul Waner was known as Big Poison and Lloyd as Little Poison.

El Viajero –-The Traveler. Because he’s traveled from team to team (Minnesota is his sixth).

El Camarada -- The Comrade. That’s what Castro calls those loyal to the revolution, so this one would have to be seen as ironic (or maybe just dumb). But he is said to be a terrific teammate, a positive presence in the clubhouse.

Jesse Crain: Here is a snippet from a spring training update that appeared in the Star-Tribune this morning:
Righthander Jesse Crain, who was hit near the right knee by a line drive on Thursday, said it was still a little sore but he planned on trying some
baseball-related activities today.”
That is a tantalizing phrase – “baseball-related activities.” I don’t know what that means to Jesse Crain, and maybe he doesn't either. Here are some suggestions:

  • Eat a bag of peanuts while sitting in the left-field stands
  • Keep score (or just chart pitches)
  • Practice flippy-cup in the bullpen
  • Check out Pat Neshek’s blog
  • Drink a couple of lukewarm beers
  • Sit next to a pretty girl and obnoxiously try to impress her with your baseball knowledge
  • Join a fantasy league
  • Put peanut butter in Mike Redmond’s shin guards
  • Learn the French words to “Oh, Canada.”**

** Jesse, born in Toronto, was nicknamed The Crainadian by the boys at Pulling a Blyleven. But he went to high school in Colorado and college in Texas, so I’m betting that he still needs to work on the French lyrics. He did play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic a few years ago, so maybe he learned it there. In any case, it never hurts to practice.

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