Buxton, Santana show off speed
SARASOTA, FLA. – Darin Mastroianni, one of the fastest players on the Twins last season, was asked where he would finish in a race between himself, Byron Buxton and Danny Santana.
"I'm not beating Buxton," he said. "Maybe the first two steps but not after that. Watching him is a lot of fun. Danny reminds a lot of Ben [Revere], a shorter guy but with long legs. The same kind of strides."
The Twins' jaws dropped a few times Monday as Santana and Buxton turned the basepaths into a velodrome during a 9-2 split-squad victory over the Orioles. The switch-hitting Santana tripled from both sides of the plate, while Buxton hit a ground-rule double to straightaway center that could have been a triple (or more) had it stayed in the park, then he turned into a blur as he beat out what appeared to be a routine double-play ball in the ninth.
"They can play," said outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, who hit a three-run homer. "You see it right there, speed on the bases."
Santana, who hit .297 with 30 stolen bases last year at Class AA New Britain, could be in the mix to fill in at shortstop if Pedro Florimon (appendicitis) isn't ready for Opening Day. Santana drove in one run with his first triple and two with his second. Both times, he said he was thinking triple as soon as he left the batter's box.
"This guy is pretty exciting," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's got jets."
Buxton, rated baseball's top prospect, lined a pitch from Tim Alderson over the head of center fielder Quintin Berry, no slouch himself when it comes to speed. The ball bounced over the fence just as Buxton closed in on second base.
"It that ball bounces off the wall and Berry doesn't play it right, it's an inside-the-park home run," Mastroianni said.
Buxton, whose double began the Twins' seven-run ninth, chuckled at the thought and said, "I can't control the ball after I hit it."
The Twins were just as impressed when Buxton flew down the line in the ninth inning to avoid a double play.
"That's the fastest I've seen someone run from the righthanded batter's box," Mastroianni said.
The real Vanimal
Vance Worley threw three scoreless innings vs. Baltimore as he tries to show the Twins that the guy in his uniform last season was an impostor.
Worley held the Orioles to one hit and struck out one. He got ahead in the count frequently and didn't reach a three-ball count to any hitter.
"Last year, I couldn't get the ball down in the zone to save my life," he said. "This year I'm 100 percent healthy. Last year I was coming off of the elbow surgery, and I couldn't find a way to get down in the zone. Going to Triple-A last year, I discovered that it was just my arm slot I needed to find. After the shoulder injury last year, I took time off and I just needed to remember where my arm slot was. And here we are."
The Twins will bus to the Atlantic coast to take on the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. Phil Hughes is scheduled to start for the Twins, with Samuel Deduno also expected to go.
La VELLE E. NEAL III