The pregame ceremonies became Toriifest on Monday.
Fans roared as Torii Hunter joined Wolves star Kevin Garnett and Duke star Tyus Jones on the field for the first-pitch ceremony. Hunter heard more cheers when he was introduced before the game. The team showed a short video clip of Hunter’s highlights, then spliced together an old recording of the late Bob Casey announcing Hunter in the lineup.
The loudest ovation came when Hunter batted with two outs in the first inning. He stepped out of the batter’s box and tipped his helmet to acknowledge the moment.
“That was great,” Hunter said. “The fans stood up and they clapped. I was going to go to the plate but they kept clapping. I had to step out and [Royals pitcher] Danny Duffy, he did a great job of walking off the mound and allowing it to happen.”
Hunter drew a walk, one of the few highlights on a day in which he was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and was charged with a throwing error in the sixth.
“You still have to try to focus and put it out of your mind and try to help this team win and get something going,” he said. “Got a walk there but your emotions are kind of going crazy and it is tough to focus.”
Nolasco set to throw
Twins righthander Ricky Nolasco feared the worst when he first felt pain in his elbow during his outing against Detroit last Wednesday, but was relieved when an exam only revealed inflammation. While the team completed its road trip, Nolasco got treatment and rehabilitated his injury. He doesn’t know for sure yet, but he hopes to be ready to start by the time he’s scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list, which is April 24.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Nolasco said. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said Nolasco should start a throwing program later this week.
“He had such a good spring,” Ryan said. “He threw the ball well down there, and all of a sudden, that flared up there in the first outing. That’s not what you look for.”
May finds new pitches
Trevor May was moving quickly and efficiently through the Royals’ batting order on Thursday, needing only 55 pitches to get through the first five innings. May looked like a far more confident pitcher than the shaky rookie who worked through his nerves last summer, with only one real mistake: A fastball that Kendrys Morales hit 405 feet for a solo homer.
“I thought I threw some really nice pitches, ones I hadn’t even thrown yet,” said May, the last starting pitcher cut in spring training. “I had a pretty good one going, but they fought some off, and were able to put the barrel on one.”
Casey Fien didn’t appear in Monday’s game, but he could have. His stiff shoulder is completely healed, he said.
“I told them I could throw, but it’s April,” said Fien, who slipped on the mound in Detroit while warming up last Thursday. “It was just muscle tightness. … I came in this morning thinking it could go either way, but got out on the field and my arm felt good.”
Why not last year?
Morales played 39 games with the Twins last year, 17 of them at home, but showed little of the power they were seeking, managing to hit only one home run before he was shipped off to Seattle. On Monday, Morales bashed a second-inning fastball into the lower deck in right field, his second home run for his new team.
• Before the game, the Twins unveiled a plaque honoring longtime executive Jerry Bell, who retired last year. The plaque is located just outside the entrance to the Twins merchandise store by Gate 29.