WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – Willians Astudillo showed off his hitting, his speed, his power and his talent for redemption on Saturday.
The Twins fell to the Nationals 10-6 at Fitteam Ballpark, with Washington outfielder Brandon Snyder’s eighth-inning grand slam off lefthander Lewis Thorpe the deciding blow. But for the Twins, it was an Astudillo kind of day.
The Venezuelan sensation, hoping to earn a spot on the Twins roster, fouled off four pitches before singling off All-Star lefthander Patrick Corbin. Then, after taking a pitch off the biceps in the fourth inning, he raced around from first to score the go-ahead run from first base on Ronald Torreyes’ double.
“Just watching him foul those balls off — his hand-eye coordination is something,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s fouling off balls against good pitching that most guys are not going to touch.”
But Astudillo, playing third base, gave the lead back almost immediately, throwing wildly to first base after fielding Wilmer Difo’s two-out ground ball. Carter Kieboom and Adam Eaton followed with back-to-back RBI doubles.
Astudillo wouldn’t stand for it. His next at-bat, against Nationals lefthander James Bourque, lasted one pitch. It landed on the roof of the Twins bullpen in deep left field, his first home run of the spring.
“He’s a performer,” Baldelli said. “You never know what you’re going to see from him, but most of it is good.”
The Twins managed one other run, tying the score on catcher Brian Navarreto’s pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth, but the Nationals offense was too much for the Twins’ young pitching prospects.