FORT MYERS, FLA. – Marwin Gonzalez ended up right in the fire Tuesday but emerged with no burns.
In his first game of spring training, Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with a home run, a two-run double and made a strong play at second base during the Twins’ 5-1 victory over the Tigers before a sellout crowd at Hammond Stadium.
Gonzalez had what was described as minor right knee surgery this offseason. He provided more details after the game, describing it as a debridement of his patellar tendon. Consequently, the Twins have taken it easy with him during camp.
“I went, like, two months without doing anything,” he said. “I started working out in late December, little by little, with the low weight that I could handle, and I progressed little by little until I’m able to do pretty much everything now.”
He said the knee still gets sore after workouts, but has felt fine the past two days. He started at second base Tuesday — guessing that manager Rocco Baldelli put him there so he wouldn’t have to move too much — but had to make a diving stop in the first inning on Harold Castro’s grounder to the hole.
“The very first play was that one,” he said. “I was surprised that I was able to do it.”
He certainly didn’t look rusty at the plate, banging a two-run double to right in the second to drive in the first runs of the game, then launching a home run to right in the fifth.
Miguel Sano hit a long home to center in the seventh to make it 4-1.
Gonzalez’s knee will be closely monitored. If the club decides to keep him out of the outfield for the opening weeks of the regular season, that would help Jake Cave’s bid to win what’s believed to be the final spot on the bench.