At least Liriano's reactions are fast

FORT MYERS, FLA. — Francisco Liriano already is one of those pitchers who doesn't like to throw from behind a protective screen during spring training batting practice. The Twins prefer that their pitchers protect themselves.

Liriano took things one step further Sunday. When Brian Dinkelman hit a comebacker during batting practice, Liriano reached up with his bare left hand in an attempt to catch the ball. It ticked off his hand.

Again: He attempted to stop a comebacker with his bare hand in spring training batting practice.

Liriano dropped his head in embarrassment when a reporter asked him why he would do such a thing.

"I didn't want to," Liriano said. "I just reacted when he hit it."

Just as important, Liriano looked relatively sharp during his session against Dinkelman, Joe Mauer, Aaron Bates and Danny Valencia.

"My last BP was all over the place," Liriano said. "Today, I was locating the fastball better. I tried not to overthrow."

Doumit won't play first?

Ryan Doumit likely will open the season as the Twins designated hitter. He could end up as Joe Mauer's backup at catcher and, on Sunday, he went through outfield drills.

He also has been considered an option at first base, but that is where he's least comfortable. In fact, manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't plan on using Doumit at first base this season.

"I don't think he's that interested in it," Gardenhire said. "I talked to him and he's not that excited about it. He says if there's a position that he's least comfortable at, it would be that. We're going to probably give him some reps over there just like we would anybody else. But it's not something that I'm going to force-feed here."

If Justin Morneau isn't in the lineup, Mauer could slide over there. Gardenhire also has mentioned that he would like to see Sean Burroughs get some work in at other positions, including first. Luke Hughes played 36 games at first last season.

Gardenhire said Doumit definitely will catch, be the DH and play in the outfield. "The bottom line is, I want his bat in the lineup," Gardenhire said.

Camp focus: Aaron Bates

Age: 28 on March 10.

Position: First base.

Stats: Hit .316 with seven home runs and 37 RBI in 106 games with Class AAA Rochester.

Tidbits: He was on his way as a prospect in the Red Sox organization but couldn't hit for power past Class A. ... Still, he's a career .283 hitter in the minors with a .378 on-base percentage. ... His major league career consists of five games in 2009 when he was called up in July to fill in for an injured player and batted .364 (4-for-11) with two doubles and two RBI. ... He was released by Boston during spring training last year and signed in May with Rochester. ... He's in camp as a nonroster invite and most likely will open the season back in Rochester.

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