FORT MYERS, FLA. – The time to pay real attention to spring training lineups is during the last week of camp, when the final roster decisions are being made and teams want to win a few games to head into the regular season with momentum.
Anything before that is tinkering, getting players at-bats or buying time until the World Baseball Classic ends. And Twins manager Paul Molitor was in a tinkering mood Wednesday in an 8-0 victory over the Cardinals.
Joe Mauer batted leadoff with Brian Dozier second. And Byron Buxton batted fifth.
“I thought to change it up just to see what it looked like and how it would play out,” Molitor said. “Potentially, you have a couple guys who aren’t here who might be in the mix, too.”
Mauer, whose .363 on-base percentage last season led the regulars, was 2-for-3 on Wednesday and is batting .385 this spring. Buxton, normally at the top or bottom of the order, walked in the third inning and hit an RBI double in the fifth. He’s batting .292.
If you haven’t noticed, the Twins don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter. And Mauer hasn’t fit the profile of a No. 3 hitter — or No. 2 hitter, if that’s where you think the best hitter should bat — since 2013. Any lineup Molitor settles on will take imagination — or a deeper dive into statistical analysis.
“So we’re going to try here a couple games with a couple different looks,” Molitor said. “I think it’s a good way to learn how we want to land once we get started — not that I have the tendency to write out the same lineup very often.”
Righthander Tyler Duffey was originally scheduled to start against the Cardinals but was moved to a minor league game on one of the back fields while Adalberto Mejia faced St. Louis. Duffey gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in three innings while throwing 56 pitches. The third inning was halted when the coaches deemed that he had thrown enough pitches.
Duffey worked on spotting his sinking fastball and throwing a few changeups. His best inning was the third inning, as he began to use his trusty curveball more.
“For the most part, I’ve felt pretty good,” said Duffey, who pitched on an extra day of rest. “The changeup was a little off today.”
Molitor was in attendance for Duffey’s outing.
“Duffy had a good day over there,” Molitor said. “He ran into trouble in the one inning when he could not get off the field with two outs.”
• ByungHo Park was 1-for-3 and is batting .400 with 10 hits in 10 games.
• Brian Dozier was 0-for-3 and is 1-for-14 this spring.
• The next round of cuts is expected to occur by the end of the week.
The Twins head to Jupiter, Fla., on Thursday to play the Cardinals. Righthander Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins while righthander Trevor Rosenthal (lat discomfort) will make his first appearance since March 3.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III