FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins held a tuneup game ahead of their tuneup games, and they pronounced themselves ready.
Wilkin Ramirez smashed a three-run homer, Aaron Hicks tripled and Kevin Correia, Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson pitched two scoreless innings apiece in an intrasquad game at Hammond Stadium Thursday as the Twins prepared for Friday’s exhibition opener, the first of 31 scheduled spring training games.
The team managed by Ron Gardenhire rallied behind Ramirez’s homer for a 5-3 victory over the team managed by Terry Steinbach, and both sides got a warm ovation from the roughly 300 fans in attendance after the final out of the eight-inning game.
Gardenhire was happy, too, especially with the work done by his pitching staff. “Hughes threw the ball very well. It really came out of his hand nice,” he said. “Correia does what he does, and it kind of went from there.”
Vance Worley surrendered one run in his two-inning stint, while Trevor May, Deolis Guerra and Yohan Pino pitched a scoreless inning apiece.
Among the positives for the Twins: Gibson’s fastball hit 94 miles per hour on the stadium’s radar gun. Miguel Sano made three strong throws from third base, showing no sign of soreness in his throwing elbow. And Josmil Pinto, expected to sit out because of a stiff lower back, was healthy enough to catch for three innings. “It was nice to see him out there, moving around,” Gardenhire said.
It wasn’t such a great day for Byron Buxton, however. The top prospect in the minor leagues struck out three times in four plate appearances.
The Twins open the exhibition season Friday across town at JetBlue Park, the first of six games this spring against the world champion Red Sox.
General Manager Terry Ryan hasn’t yet begun radiation treatments for the squamous-cell cancer found in his neck earlier this month, but “he’s feeling really good,” Gardenhire said. Ryan called the manager Wednesday night from his home in Eagan, the first time they had spoken since Ryan’s Feb. 11 surgery to remove lymph nodes in his neck.
“It’s driving him crazy” not to be in camp, Gardenhire said, “but he’s staying in touch with people. … He sounded good, doing well, feeling good. Just waiting for them to tell him what the next step is,” once his neck heals from the surgery.
Ryan also called longtime clubhouse attendant Wayne Hattaway on Monday to wish him a happy 75th birthday. “He’s not supposed to do much talking, but he called Big Fella,” Gardenhire said. “That’s Terry.”
2013 stats: 5-7, 3.26 ERA in 31 games (16 starts) for Class AAA Louisville.
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent on Dec. 12.
Role: Starter or long reliever at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know: The Venezuelan played almost seven years in the Twins system but was traded to Cleveland for Carl Pavano in 2009.