Here are some observations following the Twins' 2-1 loss to Tampa on Friday:
Don't sleep on Tommy Milone: The Tommy Milone we saw late last season was not the real Tommy Milone. The one on Friday resembled the guy who is 32-23 in his career.
``He did a nice job at controlling both sides of the plate,'' Twins pitching coach Neil Allen said, ``He elevated a little bit, had some good late life on the fastball, backed some people off the plate. I was really happy.''
I have touted Alex Meyer for a spot in the rotation because he's nasty and he's 25 years old and should be in the majors. But Milone has a little bit of a track record and he's lefthanded. He's already been put in the spot before Phil Hughes throws. That can always be changed, but is also makes it look like Milone is going to have to be knocked out of that spot. And Milone just used a fastball and change up on Friday. He'll mix in his curveball during his next outing.
He's also used to battling to win spots in rotations. He knows how to prepare for a season while showing a team enough to take him north.
``All it is, is that you are going to be pushing yourself a little bit harder,'' Milone said. ``You're trying to win that one spot and sometimes it can get the better of you and you could go out and try too hard. You have to sit back and realize that if I go out there and if I perform I can be the pitcher I know I can be - and they want me to be - and then I have a shot.''
The Twins' only run was scored in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler.
There was a report that a scout for the Astros was turned away by Venezuelan authorities because they suddenly require visitors from the United States to have a visa. I checked with the Twins, and this will not affect them much. Venezuelan prospects can be scouted at the showcases in the Dominican Republic. They send the Venezuelans they sign to their base in Boca Chica, DR. And their main scout, Fred Guerrero, enters from the Dominican Republic. This situation still bears watching, given the issues between the two countries.
Jorge Polanco looked like he had a rough inning when he was charged with a throwing error in the sixth and then was caught trying leg out a double in the seventh. Twins manager Paul Molitor said first baseman Dan Rohlfing should have come off the bag to get the throw instead of stretch, and he felt Polanco was jobbed at second base (my words not his).
Righthander J.R. Graham received last-minute advice from bullpen coach Eddie Guardado before making his Twins debut on Friday.
``He said, `Just control yourself out there,'' Graham said. ``Those words really stuck with me today.''
Graham got into trouble in the seventh inning on Friday but was able to gather himself enough to make quality pitches and throw two scoreless innings. Graham, a Rule 5 draft pick, topped out at 96 miles an hour on the gun and threw a good slider.
The Twins have their first non-flu related injury of spring training, as catcher Josmil Pinto has a strained right quadriceps.
``He's day to day,'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said.
Pinto, who was injured during a drill, is the only position player to not appear in the first three games, which includes Wednesday's exhibition against the Gophers.
The Twins are looking for a backup catcher and have Pinto, Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann among the candidates. Pinto has the weakest defense of the three but definitely the most thunder in his bat. Twins manager Paul Molitor is keeping an open mind as to who will be his backup catcher.
Herrmann, by the way, took a foul tip off a knuckle on his right hand during Thursday's win over Boston but it is not considered serious.
Logan Darnell picked off Jake Elmore at first base in the third inning, the second straight game the Twins have picked off a runner.Aaron Thompson ended Thursday's game by picking Boston pinch runner Matty Johnson to end the game.
Is this a sign that the players are responding to the edict from Molitor? No.
``Darnell and Thompson just have good pickoff moves,'' Molitor said.
Outfielder Jordan Schafer started on Friday, his first action after missing four days because of the flu.