– It was a quiet 0-for-3 for Eddie Rosario on Thursday, a strikeout and a couple of pop-ups that barely reached the outfield grass. And Rosario was delighted.

“Very good. Good to hit,” the Twins’ regular left fielder said after facing live pitching for the first time in 11 days. “No pain.”

That last part is the most important, because Rosario had been sidelined since March 4 by tendinitis in his right arm. He began throwing again Wednesday and felt so good a day later, he handled two more sets of 15 throws apiece from 90 feet on Thursday.

It’s all been pain-free so far, Twins manager Paul Molitor said, so he’s encouraged. It probably will be another couple of days before they put him in the outfield so he can work on catching fly balls again. Molitor suggested that that might occur in minor league games, with Rosario instructed to simply toss the ball to an infielder rather than put his full strength behind a throw.

“We all know Eddie’s tendency to try to make every throw,” Molitor said. “We want to limit his have-to factor of throwing in a game.”

Molitor said the Twins don’t believe the problem is anything structural, so it’s just a matter of letting the soreness fade, and then being proactive about a training program to keep him loose.

“We just have to get him to understand he has to be a little diligent about whatever program they put him on to get ahead of it,” Molitor said. “We’ve been working with him for a while to try to eliminate some of the tail on his throws.”

As for Thursday’s at-bats, it was a good just to get him back to the plate, Molitor said.

“Probably a little rust for live pitching. The good aspect of his three at-bats was, he got a lot of swings and saw a lot of pitches,” said the manager, who has Rosario schedule to play again Friday night.

Praise for hustle

Kennys Vargas lofted a high pop-up behind third base in the fourth inning, and it fell in fair territory just out of left fielder Denard Span’s reach. Seeing the Rays scramble to reach the ball, Vargas rounded first base and headed for second. But Span recovered and threw him out by a couple of steps. Molitor, though, was far more impressed with Vargas’ read of the situation than irritated by the out.

“It was the right play. Two outs, you’re ahead in the game — he tried to go,” Molitor said. “He’s made some pretty good baserunning plays already. … He takes that pretty seriously. For me, that was the right play, given the circumstances.”

Up next

Spring training is supposed to come with a relaxed schedule, but Molitor has a couple of long days ahead. The manager will run the Twins’ rematch with the Rays on Friday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, then hop in a car and drive five miles to JetBlue Stadium, where another set of Twins will face the Red Sox in a night game. After that marathon, he’ll ride the bus early Saturday morning to Bradenton, about two hours away, to play the Pirates.

Minor leaguers will supplement the split-squad teams, and nobody who plays in the night game will be asked to make the long road trip the next morning.

“It’ll be a lot of baseball in the next [several] hours,” Molitor said.

PHIL MILLER