– Twins closer Glen Perkins played catch Friday to test his sore right side and had no problems. He will throw in the bullpen Saturday as he tries to get ready for Opening Day by the end of camp.

Perkins tested himself at the CenturyLink Sports Complex while the Twins headed to Bradenton to play the Pirates.

Perkins’ availability for Opening Day becomes less likely if he has another setback. If all goes well, he can get sharp in time for the regular season because he’s only a one-inning pitcher.

Twins manager Paul Molitor said a reliever probably needs 10 appearances to be ready for the season. Perkins threw bullpen sessions before facing the Gophers on March 4.

“We’re going to try to see what we can do to try to get him back on schedule,” Molitor said. “You can’t really make up for the lost time but if you can adjust along the way, that can be a good thing.”

It’s too early to consider contingency plans, but Molitor said Casey Fien would get the shot to close games if Perkins is unavailable.

Santana not sharp

Ervin Santana had mechanical issues Friday. And his changeup?

“I threw a couple but NOT good,” he said. “It’s OK, it happens.”

After two sharp innings Sunday, Santana labored through two innings and 50 pitches Friday in an 8-3 victory over the Pirates. The good news for Santana? He got his pitch count up and is on track to be pushing 100 pitches by the start of the regular season.

While Santana knows there will be days when his shoulder will fly open and lead to erratic control, he’s not comforted by it occurring during spring training.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “Even though it is spring training, it is still baseball and you have to make an adjustment and throw strikes. It doesn’t matter if it is spring training or not, it is a game and you have to do good.”

It didn’t help that Kennys Vargas lost a Josh Harrison popup in the sun and was nowhere near the ball when it landed in foul territory. Harrison extended his at-bat to 11 pitches before lining a ball off the top of the wall. Left fielder Eddie Rosario scooped the ball up and threw Harrison out at second, but it was an outing in which Santana could not avoid long innings.

Down the road

With minor league camp starting this week, there will be opportunities for major league players to get in extra work. On Monday, Tommy Milone and Trevor May will pitch in camp games there. For Milone, it keeps him on a five-day schedule. For May, it gives him an opportunity to get stretched out after missing several days because of flu-like symptoms.

Look for veterans such as Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Kurt Suzuki to use minor league games to get extra at-bats.

First cuts of camp

And … since the minor league camp is getting started, there’s a place to send cut players from the major league camp. Molitor expects some cuts before the Twins head to Baltimore on Tuesday. The Twins actually have some clubhouse stalls with wheels on them so they can be transported directly to the minor league facility.

On deck

The Twins have back-to-back games against the Cardinals this weekend. They travel to Jupiter, Fla. on Saturday, where righthander Ricky Nolasco will square off against righthander Michael Wacha.