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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins take on Red Sox as another group of pitchers make spring debut

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nick Tepesch took the first step toward what he hopes is a job on the Twins’ pitching staff on Friday, but he knows his one scoreless inning is only a footnote in building his case. Still, pitching well beats the alternative.

    “Every one of them matters. All of them count,” said the 28-year-old righthander, who pitched the eighth inning of a game started by his fellow Missouri Tiger, Kyle Gibson. “I went out there, stayed in the strike zone, attacked the hitters. And now I try to take that into the next one, and the next one. Build on each outing.”

    Tepesch faced four hitters against the Rays, and while he didn’t strike anybody out, he got three ground balls (one of which scooted past rookie shortstop Engelb Vielma for a single) and a harmless fly ball.

    “I felt really good. I’ve thrown a number of bullpens and a couple of live [batting practices], so it was nice to finally pitch in an actual game,” he said. “I felt like I commanded my fastball pretty well. I threw a couple of cutters, only one curveball. But I was commanding the zone.”

    Tepesch knows he’s only one of 31 pitchers vying for roster spots in camp, and one of eight to pitch in the Grapefruit League opener. Now a whole new roster of Twins hopefuls take their turn today, as the Twins meet Boston at JetBlue Park. Ryan Vogelsong will make his Twins debut, while Tyler Duffey, Adalberto Mejia, Ryan Pressly and Ryan O’Rourke also will be on the mound. Phil Hughes, who hasn’t faced a hitter since suffering a broken kneecap last June, will start for the Twins and throw 30 pitches.

    The Twins’ lineup is completely different today, too; most of last night’s starters stayed behind at Twins camp. The Red Sox, as home team, are using many of their star players. One interesting note: catcher Chris Gimenez will play first base once Byung Ho Park is out of the game, as manager Paul Molitor looks for versatility from his bench players.

    Ben Paulsen, 0-for-2 last night as backup first baseman, serves as DH today. I wrote about him and his chances in Saturday’s paper.

    Here are the lineups for today’s noon (CST) game, which will be televised on MLB Network and broadcast on Go96.3.

TWINS

 

Stubbs CF

Santana RF

Grossman LF

Park 1B

Paulsen DH

Hague 3B

Escobar SS

Murphy C

Field 2B

 

Hughes RHP

 

RED SOX

 

Pedroia 2B

Bogaerts SS

Betts RF

Ramirez DH

Moreland 1B

Young LF

Sandoval 3B

Selsky CF

Vazquez C

 

Elias LHP

Twins open spring schedule against Rays with Gibson on the mound

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are working out at Hammond Stadium right now, wearing their bright red jerseys, as they prepare for their 7 p.m. Grapefruit League opener against the Rays. (There is no TV coverage of the game, though it’s on Go96.3. Tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is being televised by MLB Network.)

    It was a quiet day in Twins camp, with the players ordered (and threatened with having to pay for a team dinner if they disobeyed) to stay away from the ballpark until 2 p.m. After a week or more of 7:30 arrivals, nobody seemed to mind.

    Paul Molitor chose to stick with the lineup he projected yesterday, one that looks like the Opening Day lineup with a couple of exceptions: Kennys Vargas will be at first base instead of Mauer, and Ehire Adrianza will be at second base in Brian Dozier’s place. Kyle Gibson will throw the first two innings (or 30 pitches), followed by an inning apiece from Brandon Kintzler, Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle, Justin Haley, Brian Boshers, Nick Tepesch and Michael Tonkin.

    Rookie righthander Austin Pruitt starts for Tampa Bay.

    Here are the lineups for the first of 35 spring games:

RAYS

 

Beckham SS

Robertson 3B

Miller 2B

Dickerson LF

Gillaspie 1B

Casali DH

Maile C

Peterson CF

Field RF

 

Pruitt RHP

 

TWINS

 

Buxton CF

Polanco SS

Sano 3B

Vargas 1B

Park DH

Kepler RF

Rosario LF

Castro C

Adrianza 2B

 

Gibson RHP

     Now, a confession: I’m not a golfer, and had no idea what an albatross is. (If you saw my rare attempts to play the game, you’d understand why I do know what a “snowman” is.)  So when Glen Perkins tweeted photos of Joe Mauer retrieving his golf ball out of the cup yesterday, I made a basic mistake. I jumped to conclusions.

    Turns out, Mauer didn’t collect a hole in one Thursday night — he accomplished something even more rare. He holed his second shot, from 236 yards out to an uphill green, on a par 5. Perkins called it an albatross — three under par on a hole — but I just thought he was being colorful.

    Mauer was enjoying the congratulations from his teammates this afternoon, and Perkins sounded amazed at how well the first baseman was hitting the ball during his round. He putted well, too, Mauer said — probably the best round of his life.

    No hole in one, though. He’s never had one. So please accept my mea culpa for writing in Friday’s paper that he had.

    But in my defense, Mauer didn’t know what an albatross is, either. “I’ve only heard it called a double eagle. Glen told me it’s an albatross,” Mauer said. “He said the only reason he knew it was because he’s had one on Golden Tee.”

    Fortunately, there is no golf for me to write about tonight — only baseball.