La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins-Red Sox B game: Morneau to play in back-to-back games

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 7, 2012 - 1:07 PM

Joe C. is handling the coverage in Sarasota today.

The Red Sox beat the Twins 4-1 in an eight-inning B game at Hammond Stadium on Wednesday as Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester and Twins righthander Nick Blackburn got their work in.

But the day was a success for other Twins trying to build for Opening Day.

Justin Morneau, the designated hitter on Wednesday, drilled a double into the right field corner off a fastball from Boston lefthander Drake Britton in the seventh inning. He was 1-for-2 with a walk and was lifted for pinch runner Luke Hughes after that.

``It's a good start, that's the best way to put it,'' he said. ``The timing is starting to feel like it's getting there.''

Morneau said that the best way for his timing to kick in is with consistent playing time. After playing every other day the first few games of spring training, Morneau said he will start on Thursday against Tampa Bay - his first back-to-back action.

His comeback from concussion-related issues and surgeries on his neck, wrist, knee and foot did not come up today. But the fact that he's scheduled to play Thursday can be viewed as a positive development.

Here are more details from the game:

  • Joe Mauer played first base and made a nice backhanded stop in the second inning to retire Jarod Saltalamaccia.
  • Nick Blackburn threw two shutout innings, striking out four, He struck out three batters looking in the first inning. He's moved from the left edge of the rubber to the middle of the rubber this season and he feels he's getting more deception that way.
  • Blackburn, on Mauer's play: ``I looked over there and was like,. `Who is that?' ''
  • Mauer's reaction to Blackburn's reaction: ``Geez, I don't know how to answer that.''
  • Trevor Plouffe, playing left, broke back on Jason Repko's fly ball in the second and couldn't recover in time as the ball fell in and Repko legged out a double. There was a tough wind blowing across the field, though.
  • Joe Benson was 2-for-3
  • Twins pitchers struck out 14 Boston batters, most of whom were inexperienced. Kyle Waldrop looked sharp, striking out two in an inning of work.
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