Day@Camp Daily Dispatch From Fort Myers

Players excited to have versatile Gonzalez on board

– Marwin Gonzalez has a well-earned reputation for playing anywhere on the baseball diamond except pitcher and catcher, but Jason Castro says it’s not entirely accurate.

“Oh, he can catch. He would catch bullpens back in the day,” said Castro, who spent five seasons on the Astros with Gonzalez. “He was the unspoken emergency catcher. The guy literally can play anywhere, and do it well. It’s a great signing for our team.”

Gonzalez showed up at Hammond Stadium on Saturday to get fitted for a uniform and have photos taken, then flew home to Houston, with plans to return for good Sunday. The Twins haven’t formally announced his signing a two-year, $21 million contract yet, probably because they have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

But the players who know the newest Twins player couldn’t contain their enthusiasm over the signing.

“It’s great. He’s definitely going to help us,” said designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who spent the past four seasons in the AL West with Seattle. “Veteran guy. World Series experience. And yeah, he used to kill the Mariners.”

Gonzalez has hit 18 of his 76 career home runs against the Mariners.

Cruz said he especially appreciated that the Twins front office jumped at an unexpected opportunity to help the team. “Well, we’re all in, so they should be, too,” Cruz said.

Byron Buxton said he was napping when the news broke, and the buzzing of his phone woke him up. “It shows we want to win,” the Twins center fielder said. “We want to get players around this team who know how to play the right way, give 100 percent hustle. The things he’s done with the Astros, it’s exciting because he’s coming to do the same things here.”

Lewis has oblique strain

 

Royce Lewis has a mild oblique strain, putting his chances of playing with the major league team this spring in jeopardy.

Already sore from the start of daily workouts, Lewis lunged to field a ground ball in the shortstop hole Friday. When he tried to throw the ball to first base, “it just felt like someone was literally stabbing me in the side,” the Twins’ top prospect said. “On the torque, I caught it right there.”

He will be out of action for several days, and perhaps a few weeks, given the danger of aggravating the injury if not given a proper chance to heal, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, adding: “We’re going to be conservative, as you would probably guess. We’re not overly concerned right now. It’s something to take note of as we move forward.”

Lewis, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick who is rated among the top 10 prospects in baseball, had been scheduled to play the second half of Saturday’s game against Baltimore in Sarasota. With minor league camp opening March 7, it’s possible he will be reassigned before being cleared to play.

“I feel like we’re in no rush, even though I’d love to be out there playing,” Lewis said. “But I can still learn from the best.”

Etc.

• Infielder Ehire Adrianza has changed his mind about not switch hitting this spring, saying Saturday his surgically repaired left shoulder feels good enough to allow him to bat righthanded. Adrianza had said last week that he would bat only from the left side during camp, to give his shoulder more time to heal.

• Baldelli spent much of batting practice hugging and shaking hands with his former Tampa Bay colleagues. The new Twins manager spent five seasons on the Rays coaching staff before being hired in October. “Seeing them on the field, it’s very cool. It’s very emotional,” Baldelli said. “It’s something I’ve waited for the whole offseason.”

• Righthander Michael Pineda, inching closer to making his debut in a Twins uniform, pitched a two-inning simulated game Saturday.

On deck

Lefthander Martin Perez, who has the inside track on a spot in the starting rotation, makes his spring debut as the Twins travel across town to face the Red Sox.

PHIL MILLER