BRADENTON, Fla. — Monday was a pretty good day for the Twins, even though they lost the B game and tied the A game with the Pirates, because so many of their pitchers were effective. Taylor Rogers and Ricky Nolasco, who started the two games, both looked particularly sharp, with Nolasco making only a couple of bad pitches. Rogers looks headed to Rochester, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the left-hander make his major league debut this year.
Blaine Boyer and Aaron Thompson also were very good, while Logan Darnell pitched two scoreless innings, too.
But there were some annoyances for manager Paul Molitor, too, particularly on the bases. He’s been emphasizing aggressive base-running, but the Twins made a couple of mistakes.
In the morning’s B game, catcher Tyler Grimes was on first base when a pitch scooted off the dirt and past Pittsburgh catcher Tony Sanchez. Grimes hesitated, and looked for a moment that he might not run. Finally, he heeded the yelling from the dugout and took off for second, and it looked like he would make it easily. Grimes must have thought so, too, because he went in standing up, and was tagged out. The play was extremely close, and the call might have been wrong, but nobody came out looking good on that play.
Nor did they when Heiker Meneses and Shane Robinson allowed a high popup to fall between them, or when Miguel Sano allowed a grounder to go right through his legs.
In the afternoon’s A game, Aaron Hicks had a baserunning adventure, too. After a sharp single to lead off the eighth, Hicks took off for second base, only to have pitcher Angel Sanchez whirl and throw to first. Fortunately for Hicks, it was called a balk, and he moved up to second.
That’s when Molitor gave a signal he hadn’t plan to use much early in camp. “Early in the spring, I don’t like to take the bat out of guys hands too much. For the most part, we’ve been letting them swing and try to hit a double and have a good at-bat,” Molitor said. But infielder Doug Bernier was at bat, and he “is the type of player who’s got to move runners,” Molitor said. “I didn’t give him the bunt, I gave him the get-em-over sign; he has the option to bunt, or get him over [with a grounder] to the right side.”
But Bernier took the pitch, and Hicks, anticipating contact, had strayed too far off second base. Catcher Elias Diaz easily caught him to end that threat.
“I’m not sure what happened. I told [first-base coach] Butch [Davis] to go talk to him,” Molitor said. “You’re not trying to maximize your secondary [lead] there, you’re trying to let the hitter do his job. And he got caught.”