BRADENTON, FLA. – Miguel Sano thought he had popped up Gerrit Cole's first-pitch fastball Monday, but then he remembered something important. What was it?
Sano just grinned, flexed his right arm, and pointed at the supersized biceps.
Oh, right. Big-league pitchers don't know it yet, but Sano's biceps occasionally blast those "pop-ups" 400 feet to straightaway center field, where they land atop the sun deck. It happened Monday at McKechnie Field, when the Dominican infielder hit his first home run in a major league uniform, and it amounted to the Twins' only offense in a Grapefruit League game that was declared a 1-1 tie after nine innings.
"[I'm] really happy when I see fastball," Sano said.
He's not nearly as happy, however, when pitchers resort to offspeed stuff, the way Vance Worley and Mark Melancon did Monday morning in a B game across town. Sano struck out twice, the latter time while reaching for Melancon's looping curveball that came nowhere near the strike zone.
"[He] might have been guilty of going up there and free swinging. You're not going to have great results when that happens, especially against good pitching," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But he came back. … He just has that power — he stays inside the ball and still hits it very far. It was nice to see."
Molitor enjoyed seeing his pitching staff hold the Pirates to one run, too. Ricky Nolasco made his first start of the spring, and though he gave up back-to-back doubles to Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker in the first inning, resulting in Pittsburgh's lone run, he also struck out three batters, walked none and generally had no problems.
"I felt sharp," Nolasco said. "My sinker was running pretty good [and] I had a sharp breaking ball. I wanted to get a lot of fastballs [inside] early, and I was able to do that."
Five pitchers followed him, and although they displayed varying command, none allowed the Pirates to score.