Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Odds & ends from Twins' spring home opener

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: February 24, 2013 - 6:45 PM

I asked Chris Colabello if he was a hero to his teammates or a villain in the ninth inning, when his infield hit scored Darin Mastroianni from second base and sent the game -- a meaningless spring-training game -- into extra innings. He laughed and admitted, "I should have hit that pitch over the right-field wall," and ended the game.

He only cost his teammates an extra half-hour or so at the ballpark, though, so mostly, everyone was happy for him, and for Brandon Boggs, who bashed a ninth-inning, three-run homer.

Deolis Guerra couldn't keep it tied, though, surrendering a two-run blast in the 10th to fourth-string Rays catcher Mark Thomas, in the 10-7 loss. That ended a long day of baseball that began with a six-inning intrasquad game in the morning. "Squeeze bunts, hit-and-runs, sacrifices, on the [second] day of spring training," manager Ron Gardenhire said, rubbing his face in weariness. "We've seen everything already."

Mastroianni saw more than he planned, too. Everyone who took part in the intrasquad game was allowed to leave early, except him. His manager had a hunch.

"I kept Masti there, and he knew it, because last year I pinch-ran him in the ninth inning of a spring training game, too," Gardenhire said. "He said the exact same thing -- 'You're going to pinch-run me, aren't you?' I said, 'If we get in the right spot, yes.' So he was ready and he ran."

And he scored the tying run.

A couple other leftovers from Sunday's long day of baseball:

-- Attendance at Hammond Stadium was only 5,124, well off the capacity of 8,100. I know the games are starting about a week earlier this year due to the World Baseball Classic, but that was startling for a Twins' home opener. Is it a reflection of decreasing interest after two bad seasons?

-- Gardenhire seemed to enjoy the interest Kyle Gibson's impressive two innings was drawing. Asked what he thought, the manager first deadpanned, "He's just OK." Then he joked, "I told [pitching coach Rick Anderson] not to pitch him again. And we'll start him and go seven on the first night."

-- Aaron Hicks went 0-for-3 in his first action of the spring, but made a nice sliding catch on a Texas Leaguer in the first inning. Joe Benson gets his chance to start in center tomorrow against Pittsburgh.

-- There were a handful of bad plays in the infield, but Gardenhire said that's to be expected. "Sometimes it looks like the ball's a hot potato -- you don't want to hold it too long," he said. "We've got to learn some of our kids to slow down. We're seeing a lot of stuff you can talk about and hopefully make them better at the end."
 

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