It appears things could get far worse for the Twins besides their mediocre at best, highly over-paid utility extraordinaire Nick Punto.
I for one was still cringing in anguish this spring at the thought of Punto being an everyday player for our beloved Twinkies in 2010, let’s say at third base. But that all changed when what appeared to be a 24-year-old raccoon stepped into the batter’s box for the Twins Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox in spring training action.
If you missed the game on FSN, you missed out on one of the finest knee-slappers I’ve came across in some time. (You also missed Bert circle a moron in the stands with a sign that had his own name spelled wrong. "Burt." But anyway.)
Standing at a whopping 5-foot-3 inches (some sites on the Web have him listed at 5-2 1/2), a gentleman by the name of Chris Cates grounded out to second base and completely made my week. It almost seemed as if the whole scenario was a joke. For starters, Boston catcher Jason Varitek was taller on his knees than this kid, and watching someone under 5-5 try to leg out a grounder in the majors was pure comedy. We’ll just say, a lot of strides, not much speed.
Then there was the jersey, with a big fat No. 90 plastered on the back of it! The "short" sleeves fell to his forearms and he must have had to yank it out of his pants by 8 inches to keep the Twins logo from being tucked under his belt. I’m telling you all, it was money!
I guess I should make a point, and I guess I’ll start by stating the obvious. I’m sure this young man has strived hard to get to where he is (Twins’ A affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle), but come on, man. There’s no way this guy is a big leaguer. Which brings me to another point. Who are the Twins signing and who are they inviting to camp? This whole debacle reminded me of when Billy Crystal suited up for the Yankees for a spring game back in the 90s. It was simply a joke, or if you will a charity case.
In Cates’ defense, I’ll throw in a little info about the minor league shortstop. He was selected by the Twins in the 38th round of the 2007 draft. He was the smallest player in NCAA Division I baseball when he began his college career with the Louisville Cardinals in 2004. Weighing 145 pounds, Cates was named third-team all-Big East while leading the Cards with a .332 batting average and 47 runs scored.
In his pro career with the Twins, Cates represented the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League All-Star game in 2008, and in 2009 he was the starting shortstop for the South in the Florida State League All-Star game.
For the record, the kid has never hit a home run at the professional level. And I’ll buy a round of drinks in a packed bar on a Saturday night if he ever does.
We all love the underdog story. Rudy comes to mind. But, although hilarious, I’d rather tickle my funny bone at the expense of something other than my favorite pro baseball franchise. So with that said, swing away Punto, swing away.