February 2014

Game 1: Twins win Grapefruit League opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Pelfrey tossed two scoreless innings to help lead the Twins to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Chris Colabello added two RBIs on a two-run double in fourth inning, while Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia each had an RBI.

What went right: Pelfrey looked sharp in his first outing, allowing just one hit and throwing 13 of his 20 pitches for strikes.

Left-hander Brian Duensing also turned in a perfect third inning with a strikeout, while right-hander Samuel Deduno tossed two scoreless frames. Deduno also struck out three and walked one. Left-handers Caleb Thielbar and Aaron Thompson also each threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

Plouffe opened the scoring with a single in the fourth inning to bring home Brian Dozier, who led off the inning with a single. Plouffe scored on a single to right field from Arcia that was misplayed by right fielder Bryce Brentz before Arcia came home on a single from Wilkin Ramirez.

The Twins added three more runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Arcia and a two-run double from Colabello. Danny Santana added an RBI single in the seventh before reaching on a run-scoring error in the ninth.

The Twins also looked good defensively, with Plouffe turning a nice double play and Jason Bartlett making a diving play at shortstop.

What went wrong: Not much, but right-hander Casey Fien gave up a solo homer to Brentz in the sixth inning. But given his success the last two years, Fien is a lock for the bullpen this year and is expected to be one of the club’s top setup men along with right-hander Jared Burton.

The Twins also struck out 13 times on the afternoon with Jason Kubel going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Alex Presley, Kennys Vargas, Bartlett and Colabello also struck out twice.

Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who was acquired from the Braves in the trade that sent Ryan Doumit to Atlanta, gave up a run in the ninth inning, allowing two hits and a walk.

What they said: “I don’t know what I want to get [my time between pitches] to but I want to get through an inning without the outfielder or infielder’s feet going numb. So I’m sure they’ll appreciate that, especially in April and May in Minnesota. I don’t know what a good time is personally but I definitely need to be quicker. It’s something that I’m continuing to try to work at and get better at.” — Pelfrey on improving his tempo this season.

What’s next: Left-hander Scott Diamond is set to start the home opener for the Twins at renovated Hammond Stadium against the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Diamond, who is looking to bounce back after posting a 5.43 ERA in 24 starts last year, is competing for the final spot in the rotation along with Vance Worley, Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson. Right-hander Allen Webster is slated to start for Boston in the second straight meeting between the two clubs.

Injury update: Third baseman Miguel Sano is being checked out by doctors this afternoon after feeling something in his elbow on a throw during Thursday’s intrasquad game. Sano is expected to be held out of action the next few days even if the injury is minor.

Miguel Sano to have his elbow examined today

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospect Miguel Sano was originally on the list to play in today’s Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox, but was a late scratch, and now we know why.

Sano felt something in his right elbow while making a throw in yesterday’s intrasquad game, and is scheduled to have his elbow checked this afternoon.

Sano, who was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow this offseason, was cleared to throw heading into camp. He didn’t have any issues until Thursday, when he had to make a throw across his body on a slow grounder hit by catcher Kurt Suzuki.

The Twins remain hopeful the injury isn’t serious but won’t know more until Sano gets his elbow checked out on Friday. Sano is currently ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com

“He made that throw coming in off-balance and he had a little bit of soreness and will get it checked out this afternoon,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “When he came into the dugout, they asked him because that was one of the throws we were going to keep an eye on. You can do it in workouts all you want but until you get into game action and react and make a play. They asked him how it felt, and he said, ‘I felt it a little bit on that one.’ So they took him out of the game and he came in today was still a little sore.”

Antony added the Twins hoped Sano’s elbow issue wouldn’t flare up this spring but now that it has, they’re doing their due diligence to get it checked out.

“It’s not anything that’s a complete utter shock,” Antony said. “But unfortunately he felt a little something and we have to check it out and see where it’s at. They’ll take a look at it and see how it is, and we might have to make a decision sooner or later.”

Twins host intrasquad game at Hammond Stadium

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After 10 days of workouts, the Twins finally saw some game action on Thursday with an eight-inning intrasquad game at Hammond Stadium on Thursday.

Right-handers Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia started opposite each other, and both fared well by throwing two scoreless innings.

Hughes, who joined the club on a three-year, $24 million deal this offseason, threw two scoreless innings with four strikeouts — including strikeouts of top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Hughes, whose fastball was at about 91-92 mph, was pleased with the results, as he threw 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes. He also said he worked in seven or eight curveballs, which is important for him, as he’s scrapping his slider this year in favor of his curveball and a cutter.

“I was just trying to attack the zone,” Hughes said. “It was good to see some live hitters for the first time so that was a positive. … To be able to be in a game setting and see some hitters and some swings was good. Throwing strikes and staying within my mechanics was the biggest thing.”

Correia, was the club’s most consistent starter last season with a 4.18 ERA in 31 starts, didn’t allow a hit, striking out one and walking one, while throwing 23 pitches with 13 going for strikes.

“It was good,” Correia said. “I’ve thrown to some live hitters but it isn’t the same as being in a game situation and trying to make some pitches. It was a good process in the step of getting ready.”

Here are some more notes from today’s intrasquad:

— Catcher Josmil Pinto was cleared to play in the game after being limited by a sore back this week. Pinto caught with right-hander Anthony Swarzak on the mound, and walked in his lone plate appearance.

— Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez fared well, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer off right-hander Lester Oliveros. Second baseman James Beresford also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Shortstop Danny Santana and right fielder Max Kepler also had two hits each.

— Third baseman Miguel Sano, who suffered a strained elbow this offseason, made several nice plays at third base and had no issues throwing during Thursday’s intrasquad game. He went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout while reaching on a throwing error from shortstop Danny Santana. Fellow top prospect Byron Buxton went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.

Also, on a side note, the blog will be very active once Grapefruit League play starts tomorrow against the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET at JetBlue Park. I’ll be doing daily roundups, which will be similar in style to last year’s with photos as well.

Here are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken in the last 10 days while the Twins have been working out at the Lee County Sports Complex.