MVP hits his first homer of spring
In Justin Morneau's first 31 at-bats of the spring, he had seven hits, all singles. Saturday, in at-bat No. 32, the reigning MVP finally went deep.
"It's nice to know you can still hit home runs," he said. "If I would have gone the whole spring without one, I probably would have been thinking about it."
Morneau went 3-for-3 against Pittsburgh, raising his average to .312. Most of his hits have been to the opposite field.
"His first at-bat, he hit that missile to left-center field -- that's when I know he's starting to feel better, staying on the ball, not trying to do too much," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And then, the home runs come, just like that. The guy [Tony Armas Jr.] made a mistake, tried to come inside, didn't get it in there, and he killed it."
BIG DAY FOR BIG BOPPERS
A 15-mile-per-hour wind howled from left to right field Saturday in Bradenton, Fla., and the heart of the Twins order still took their best shots.
Torii Hunter defied that wind, crushing a ball deep over the left field wall for a two-run homer, his second homer of the spring.
"I thought I've hit some," Hunter said. "But that was a car crash."
Hunter is batting .321.
"Not a bad spring for me," he said. "This is probably one of my best springs."
Morneau actually used the wind to help launch his homer over the right field wall. He had one coming, actually, after losing a sure homer to the wind on March 8 against the Cardinals.
Michael Cuddyer lost one Saturday, as he hit a towering blast to left field in the eighth inning, only to have it land in the left fielder's glove.
"That's what I call deflating," said Cuddyer, batting .378 with two homers this spring. "I could have hit it lower, but I couldn't have hit it any higher."
Juan Rincon, Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan each pitched a scoreless inning in minor league action Saturday. Jesse Crain surrendered a run in his inning against Class AAA Portland, and Jeff Cirillo went 0-for-4 in that game.
Ken Harvey has begun his rehabilitation after having successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Luis Rodriguez hit a run-scoring double in the ninth inning, giving him a team-high eight RBI. Hunter, Denard Span and Garrett Jones have seven each.
Luis Castillo went 2-for-3 with two bloop singles, raising his average to .417.
Lefthander Carmen Cali took a 7-1 lead into the ninth inning. The Pirates scored two runs and loaded the bases before he retired the final two batters, surviving a scare.