JUPITER, FLA. — Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, born and raised in Miami and a former University of Miami player, announced his return to the area with authority Saturday, clubbing a home run to left field on the first pitch he saw from righthander Ricky Nolasco in the first inning.
Valencia was 2-for-3 on the day as the Twins railed to beat the renamed Miami Marlins 5-2. He was solid in the field -- except for a grounder in the fifth he could have handled more cleanly. Instead, it made his throw to first a hair late, allowing Omar Infante to reach base.
The inning was extended, and Marlins star Hanley Ramirez -- the shortstop-turned-third baseman who is batting .474 this spring -- followed with a two-run homer off Carl Pavano.
Acting Twins manager Scott Ullger said Valencia could have taken a better angle to the ball to make things easier for him.
"He realized it,'' Ullger said.
Valencia leads the Twins in home runs (three), RBI (seven) and total bases (19) this spring. He led an injury-plagued Twins team last season with 15 home runs and 72 RBI and looks ready to build off that.
"He looks really in command at the plate," Pavano said.
Ramirez's home run came on Pavano's 75th and final pitch of the day. Pavano was pleased to get 4 2/3 innings in, although he labored early before finding a groove by the third inning.
"I felt pretty good at the end,'' said Pavano, who has a 3.95 ERA this spring. "I battled myself today. I did get a lot of ground balls but had a tough time putting guys away and really making the pitches with two strikes."
Playing in right field, Ryan Doumit helped Pavano out with a great diving catch of Brett Hayes' sinking liner in the fourth. Second baseman Michael Hollimon was 4-for-4 to spark the Twins offense.