Notes from Fort Myers: Payoff for defensive drills shows up on the field

 

The Twins have taken their defensive drills seriously this spring, making several strong plays Tuesday during an 8-5 loss to Tampa Bay.

Reliever Brian Duensing jumped as high as he could in the fourth inning to stab a chopper that was headed for the outfield. He then wheeled and threw to first for the out. He also started a 1-6-3 double play in the fifth.

Shortstop Pedro Florimon raced to his right in the sixth to scoop up a ground ball, then threw off-balance to second base to start a double play.

One batter later, Rays designated hitter Leslie Anderson sent a deep drive to right-center that allowed Joe Benson to show off his speed as he ran it down for the final out of the inning.

After turning five double plays Monday, the Twins added three more Tuesday.

“We really played some great defense out there,’’ manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Woodworked

Trevor Plouffe’s two-run double in the first opened the scoring. And the Twins led 5-2 in the eighth, but the Rays scored five runs off reliever Tim Wood, who hit 94 miles per hour on the gun but lacked command.

Tampa Bay also stole three bases off Wood, who is trying to quicken his delivery to the plate. Hak-Ju Lee stole second and third off Wood, and catcher Danny Lehmann stole second.

“Woody couldn’t hold runners,’’ Gardenhire said. “He was too slow to home. They were running all over him. … He had a rough day. He’ll bounce back in a couple days. We’ll give him the ball again.’’

Nitty gritty dirt man

Groundskeeping guru George Toma, who has manicured the infield at Hammond Stadium since 2002, finally has arrived at camp after recovering from a blood clot in his leg. The clot developed while Toma was working the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Etc.

• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (left hamstring) ran and hit off a tee before Tuesday’s game and hopes to take batting practice Wednesday. Mastroianni hasn’t played since Thursday. “If it was the regular season, I would have missed one day,’’ he said.

• Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia took some swings Tuesday as he recovers from an intercostal muscle strain. He has yet to play in a game this spring.

• Righthander Anthony Swarzak continues to play catch as he works his way back from a couple of cracked ribs suffered during horseplay around TwinsFest; the club remains unsure of when he’ll start throwing in the bullpen. Without Swarzak, the Twins will have to identify someone to be the innings-eater out of the bullpen.

• Australia was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, so infielder James Beresford should be headed back to camp soon. That still leaves 12 players from the organization away for the tournament.

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