FORT MYERS, FLA. – Manager Ron Gardenhire leaned back in his chair following the Twins’ 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday and said, “Defense, defense, defense. We really like defense.”
He wanted to see more of it this spring, and he’s getting it.
Second baseman Brian Dozier added two more excellent plays to his list, and Gardenhire praised the work of shortstop Pedro Florimon and center fielder Aaron Hicks.
Notice that all three are the up-the-middle positions. The spine of the defense.
“Guys are really making plays out there,” Gardenhire said. “Everyone in the middle infield is catching the ball pretty decent. Dozier has been spectacular, and Florimon makes it look pretty easy.”
“With the second-base change, the biggest thing was to feel comfortable,” Dozier said before the game. “At the same time, you have to play some defense over there. It is not an offensive position.”
With Alex Pressley on second base in the third, Hicks chased down a fly ball to left-center, planted and threw to third to keep Pressly from even thinking about tagging up and advancing.
“We were hoping the one guy would try to go on him, just to see him throw,” Gardenhire said. “They’d seen the one ball he caught deep in the outfield [in the first inning] and how quick he set his feet and hit the cut-off man rather than taking five or six quick steps and having to wind up. That’s athleticism.”
The Twins scored their runs on a RBI groundout by Josh Willingham in the first and a RBI single by Brandon Boggs in the eighth.