– Ryan Doumit slid into second base, called time, then cracked a joke.

“I asked the second base umpire if I could keep it,” the Twins catcher said. “Wow, it’s been a long time.”

Three years, actually, since Doumit last stole a base, not that he’s been trying to pad his total ever since. Wednesday’s “go” sign was the first he’s gotten in two seasons as a Twin, so he had to make sure he wasn’t seeing things.

“I saw [the sign] and I kind of had to look at the first-base coach [Scott Ullger] and get confirmation,” Doumit said, shaking his head. “And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re going.’ ”

That he was, as Chris Parmelee waited for a 3-2 pitch in the third inning. Parmelee missed a slider for strike three, but Doumit easily beat Brayan Pena’s high throw.

“It was kind of fun,” said Doumit, who now has 11 career steals in 17 attempts. So why doesn’t he take off for second more often? “Because usually, I have the red light,” he shrugged.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said he didn’t think the move was unusual at all. Josh Willingham stole a base only last week, after all, though he jammed his knee in doing so and hasn’t played the outfield since. (Gardenhire said Willingham will be back in left field this weekend.)

“We just picked out a pitch and tried to go,” Gardenhire said. “Pick out a breaking ball and move the runner up.”

Yeah, but with a guy whose last steal came on April 29, 2010?

“It’s bad managing,” Gardenhire joked. “Maybe I ought to run him more often.”

Keeping the ball low

Vance Worley might be encouraged with how he’s throwing, but Gardenhire said he made it clear that the Twins expect more from their Opening Day starter.

“I told Andy [pitching coach Rick Anderson] to make sure we talk [to him] about those things,” Gardenhire said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Boy, I feel great.’ But then you’re giving up six runs — we need him to be better than that.”

Worley said after lasting only 4⅔ innings against the Tigers on Tuesday that “mechanically, everything is coming along fine. … I’d say I’m where I need to be — it’s just the results aren’t there.”

Gardenhire emphasized, though, that it doesn’t matter how good his pitches look if they’re too high in the strike zone.

“It’s still about locating the ball. It’s coming out of his hand [well], I agree with that, but is it coming out where you want it?” Gardenhire said. “All the balls he threw that went out of the ballpark were up. Those are the ones that get hit really hard. I’m happy that it’s coming out of his hand good, that’s a good thing, but he’s got to get the ball down.”

Worley dropped to 0-4 with the loss, and his ERA of 7.22 is the highest in the American League among pitchers with 25 innings.


• Joe Mauer, who played all but one inning in April, was not in the lineup Wednesday for the first time this season. In a bit of irony, Mauer’s off day came four years to the day after he made his injury-delayed debut in 2009 and homered on the first pitch he saw to launch his MVP season.

• Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez struck out nine Twins on Wednesday and reliever Jose Ortega whiffed two more, giving the Tigers six consecutive games of 10 or more strikeouts. That’s an American League record — and the Tigers’ next four games are against the Astros, whose hitters are striking out at a historic pace this season.

• Darin Mastroianni was scheduled to undergo a CT scan Wednesday on the stress reaction in his left ankle, and perhaps an MRI as well, in hopes of being allowed to jettison the walking boot he has been wearing for two weeks. The reserve outfielder still is at least a week away from returning to action.