FORT MYERS, FLA. – In Mike Pelfrey’s memory, “I don’t know if I threw six [sliders] for strikes all spring training last year.” So the five he threw in his two innings during Friday’s exhibition opener rate as clear progress.
Pelfrey and Samuel Deduno pitched two scoreless innings apiece, and seven Twins pitchers held the world champion Red Sox to just five hits as Minnesota claimed an 8-2 victory at JetBlue Park. Chris Colabello drove in two runs with a fifth-inning double, Deibinson Romero doubled home another run, and Trevor Plouffe contributed an RBI single and a walk as the Twins won the first of six games against their Fort Myers neighbors.
Pelfrey, in his second season back from elbow reconstruction, said he’s far advanced from the cautious approach he used last year. “It’s definitely different. I don’t know what my velocity was, but it was definitely better than last year,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a lot better place than I was at this time last year. I feel normal. I feel good.”
The Twins scored three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings, and since no Twins pitcher gave up more than one hit until Sean Gilmartin in the ninth, they romped to an easy win.
But it came with a momentary scare. Byron Buxton, in his first at-bat, bounced a two-hopper back to Francisco Cordero in the sixth inning and when the veteran pitcher couldn’t handle it cleanly, Buxton beat it out for a hit. As he crossed first base, however, he briefly touched the back of his leg.
Manager Ron Gardenhire gulped. “I had the same thought — Sano, Buxton — out. He pulled a hammy,” Gardenhire said, referring to an elbow injury troubling Miguel Sano. “But no. He’s OK.” Buxton played the rest of the game with no problems.
Florimon to DL?
Pedro Florimon is still at least a week away from being able to return to the field, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. The Twins’ shortstop underwent surgery to remove his appendix Feb. 17, and Antony said he might need to start the season on the disabled list.
“We thought from the beginning that it was going to be close at the end” of camp, he said.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the boardwalk and new seating in the Hammond Stadium outfield, lefthander Scott Diamond will start the first of the Twins’ 16 spring home games. Rookie Allen Webster will pitch for the Red Sox.
2013 stats: 4-3, 2.06 ERA in 40 games (31 innings) for Class AAA Toledo (Tigers).
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent on Dec. 2.
Role: Lefthanded specialist at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? His hometown of Owasso, Okla., is 20 miles from Ron Gardenhire’s boyhood home of Okmulgee.