FORT MYERS, FLA. – Kenta Maeda’s first pitch with the Twins missed the plate. His second found something — the barrel of Andrew Benintendi’s bat.
Benintendi clobbered the pitch into the right field seats for a welcome-to-the-Fort greeting from a crosstown rival.
Maeda then gave up a line-drive single and a walk for a rather inauspicious start to his Twins career. But he got out of the inning without giving up another run, thanks to second baseman Luis Arraez sprinting to his left to start an inning-ending double play.
The Twins went on to beat a Red Sox split squad 3-2 at Hammond Stadium.
The Twins took a 3-1 lead in the third on a solo home run by Gilberto Celestino and a two-run shot by Nelson Cruz.
Maeda’s second inning went much better than his first, as he retired the side in order to end his day on a better note.
“I was scheduled to go two innings and I’m glad I was able to go through two,” Maeda said. “First time facing hitters so I just wanted to get that feel back. And I wasn’t scheduled to give up a home run on the first hitter, just so you know.”
Home runs do happen in spring training — just not off Maeda. This marks his fourth major league spring training but the first time he has given up a home run.
“Definitely not the best,” he said. “Fastball up in the zone and not good command for the off-speed pitches. But I was able to make adjustments in the second inning so it went well.”
Maeda expressed confidence that as he builds up arm strength his command will improve. And his adrenaline will surge the closer he gets to Opening Day. “I’ve just got to throw in more games.”