FORT MYERS, FLA. - Mike Pelfrey doesn't like to use a protective screen when he throws batting practice, because "I'm more worried about the ball ricocheting off the screen and hitting me," he said.
Understandable. That's about the only thing the righthander figures could keep him from being healthy on Opening Day.
Nine months removed from ligament-replacement surgery on his pitching elbow, Pelfrey took another huge step Monday toward starting the season on time, throwing 38 pitches to Twins hitters at full speed and using his full repertoire with no soreness.
"It was better than expected. I got my work in and I walked off the field feeling good," said the 29-year-old Pelfrey, who signed with the Twins after spending seven seasons with the Mets. "I'm pretty pleased. That's my reward for working hard for 9 1/2 months."
His next reward? Waiting only two days to do it again. Pelfrey is being aggressive about coming back from the Tommy John procedure, but he has been on that every-other-day regimen since last Aug. 21.
"I'm going to be ready. I'm going to be ready. I guess it's hard for some people to believe, but I feel great," said Pelfrey, seemingly a lock for the Twins rotation if he's healthy. "There's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to be on the team."The big guy bunts
Best vignette of camp: Rod Carew was conducting bunting practice when Josh Willingham walked over and asked to take part. Carew simply shook his head no, but the slugger, who hasn't successfully sacrificed since 2008, persisted. Carew gave in and gave him a lesson, then soft-tossed a few pitches.
The Twins slugger awkwardly bunted a few, saying, "It feels weird" at one point. After several so-so bunts, his Hall of Fame instructor shook his head and yelled not to worry about it. "They're going to give it to you," Carew said.
Probably true, if the situation ever occurred. But would manager Ron Gardenhire ever order his best home-run hitter to bunt?
"Yeah," Gardenhire said. "If I'm ever trying to get fired."Etc.
• Joe Mauer took ground balls at first base after the regular workout ended.
• Tom Kelly gave private fielding lessons on a back field Monday, first to Miguel Sano, then to Jeff Clement.
• Trevor Plouffe, bothered by a slightly strained calf, didn't take part in fielding drills for a second day.
Acquired: Signed out of the independent Canadian-American Association after the 2011 season.
2012 stats: Batted .284 with 19 homers and a .478 slugging percentage for Class AA New Britain.
Role: Fighting to back up Justin Morneau, but more likely headed to Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? His father played for Italy, so he will too in the World Baseball Classic.
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