Most hitters use the first day of live batting practice to watch pitches.
“Yeah, just a good tracking day as we like to call it,” Twins first baseman Joe Mauer said Saturday. “You need to do that. You need to sit there and look and see that ball coming in. That’s a big part of it, and the next couple days start feeling better, get your legs underneath.”
Phil Hughes, who threw to Mauer, said nobody swung at any of his pitches Saturday. That’s fine on the first day, anyway, since batters don’t have their timing down and are usually dominated.
Actually there was a lot of swinging on one field, as Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas tried to tag Glen Perkins.
“They were swinging at everything,” Perkins said.
The All-Star closer started throwing sliders, and the young mashers swung over the top of them over and over again.
New tradition, Part I
Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and other Twins prospects are expected to play on Wednesday when the Twins face the Gophers in the first of what both teams hope becomes an annual exhibition game.
Indications are that Twins manager Paul Molitor will use that game to look at some of the better prospects in the system. Righthander Alex Meyer was ticketed to pitch in the game, but that could be in jeopardy since he has left camp following the death of his grandfather. Meyer is due back Sunday.
It won’t be all prospects, though. Perkins, like Molitor a former Gophers player, is scheduled to pitch in the game, around the second or third inning, Perkins said he couldn’t pass up the chance to face his former team.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. The game will be televised on FSN Plus.
New tradition, Part II
Chants rumbled across one of the practice fields at the end of Saturday’s workout, as Torii Hunter gathered all the position players for a group cheer.
It’s something the outfielder did during his two years with the Tigers and would like to implement with the Twins.
“It’s that football mentality. Gotta get ’em pumped up,” Hunter said. “We’re going to start doing it in the mornings.”
• Trevor Plouffe hasn’t been feeling well lately, and the club sent him home on Saturday. The third baseman did attend the league’s presentation on domestic violence before leaving the ballpark.
• Catcher Kurt Suzuki crumpled to the ground after a Ryan Pressly changeup caught him on the right knee, but Molitor said he is fine.
2014 stats: Hit a combined .198 in 364 at-bats at Class AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket (Red Sox), but with only six errors playing at three positions.
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent.
Role: The Venezuelan figures to spend 2015 in Class AAA Rochester, trying to recover his batting stroke. He is a career .242 hitter in the minor leagues.
Did you know? His name is pronounced “A-ker,” with a silent H. At only 23, he already has seven seasons of professional experience in the Red Sox organization.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III