FORT MYERS, FLA. – Jose Berrios plunked Brian Dozier in the left arm with a pitch in the second inning on Friday. Dozier began to jog to first base but then turned and took a few steps toward the mound.
That's all the Twins needed, their best starting pitching prospect rumbling with their best batter right before the start of the season.
Fortunately, Dozier was kidding.
"I would have taken more steps, but his back was turned," Dozier said.
The Twins and Rochester, their Class AAA affiliate, played to a 3-3 tie on Friday in an exhibition game to cap spring training.
Now it's time for the real games.
"I think we are ready," righthander Kyle Gibson said. "You see offensive guys hitting their stride. You see pitchers with confidence. We've played a lot of exhibition games, and we're ready to play ones that count."
Gibson gave up two runs over three innings in his tune-up before he faces Kansas City on Thursday.
Both runs came in the second inning when ByungHo Park, who was cut from camp on Thursday, singled sharply to right and went to second when Ben Paulsen was hit with a pitch. Park moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored as Mitch Garver hit into a double play.
Daniel Palka followed with an impressive home run just left of the batter's eye in center.
"Don't throw Palka first-pitch fastballs," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Despite the runs, Gibson finishes camp with a 2.30 ERA. The Twins are optimistic that the alterations he's made to his delivery will pay off.
"We're all excited about what he has done here and what it might lead to," Molitor said. "It's a different animal once you get going. Games count. You hope some of that stuff carries over. Not just in terms of his stuff, but the confidence he's throwing it with."
Rochester led 3-1 when Miguel Sano lined a homer to left. Eduardo Escobar's RBI single in the seventh scored Byron Buxton as the tying run.
Sano was 2-for-2 with a homer and a double down the right field line. He has looked awful for a large part of camp but went 4-for-11 over his last four games, including three home runs.
"We've seen the strikeouts," Molitor said, "but we have seen an emergence here of late."
Sano also made a nice diving stop of Garver's grounder in the fifth but then threw wildly to first for his third error of the spring.
"He hasn't had the best spring in terms of throwing the baseball," Molitor said. "A couple high, a couple wide."
•Kennys Vargas, slowed by a sore left foot, was 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Friday. Vargas will play in minor league spring training games on Saturday and Sunday and then be re-evaluated. The Twins want to get him ready for Rochester's season opener Thursday, an indication that he will be optioned or placed on the disabled list.
•Two pitchers and one catcher will remain in Fort Myers. Righthander Phil Hughes will pitch four innings or 60 pitches on Saturday, and Adalberto Mejia will pitch five innings or 75 pitches on Sunday. Chris Gimenez will catch both.
•Molitor did not reveal his Opening Day lineup, but indications are that Dozier will lead off and Buxton bat third.