FORT MYERS, FLA. – Here’s some advice from Twins manager Paul Molitor: When Byron Buxton puts the ball in play, “don’t watch the ball.”
Buxton gave the Twins a reminder of why on Tuesday, when he stroked a one-hop line drive just to the right of Rays left fielder Mallex Smith in the first inning. Again: Smith moved only a few steps and fielded the ball cleanly on one hop.
Buxton wasn’t happy with a single, though. He took a wide turn at first base and just kept moving. By the time Smith threw the ball to the infield, Buxton was pulling into second base, standing up.
“I told him I wish he’d have slid,” Molitor said. “I prefer a slide [to] trying to stop the freight train.”
Still, just add it to the list of Buxton’s speed lore. “He hit a double last week that we went back and timed on replay — 7.4 [seconds] or something ridiculous like that,” Molitor said. “If you have to [move at an] angle to the ball, he’s got a good chance.”
Buxton batted third again Tuesday, with Brian Dozier and Max Kepler ahead of him, and Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano behind. “I like the way that one plays out,” Molitor said of the lineup, despite the 1-0 final score. “This is definitely an option I would consider, at least the top five.”
Roster clarity coming
The Twins’ slow-motion pruning of their roster continued, with the subtraction of lefthanded reliever Buddy Boshers, who was optioned to Class AAA Rochester, and nonroster utilityman Tommy Field, who was reassigned to minor league camp.
Boshers, who appeared in 37 games for the Twins last year, allowed runs in only one of his first seven appearances of the spring and seemed a plausible candidate as a lefty specialist. But nine runs allowed over his last 2⅔ innings unraveled those hopes, and the job went to Craig Breslow.
The cuts bring the Twins’ roster to 36 (since Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen and Bengie Gonzalez already have been told they will be sent to Rochester), only six days before Opening Day. Roster moves will come Wednesday that will bring “clarity,” Molitor said, presumably including naming a fifth starter, a backup catcher and infielder, and the final two spots in the bullpen.
Robbie Grossman went 0-for-4 in a minor league game, but the results weren’t what mattered. Grossman showed no effects of the groin strain that has been bothering him and played the field without incident.
Grossman will play six innings Wednesday, and appears certain to head north as the fourth outfielder.
Young Gardy to Rochester
Toby Gardenhire has been promoted to the coaching staff at Class AAA Rochester, where he will coach third base and pitch plenty of batting practice. Those were tasks usually handled by manager Mike Quade, but a car accident last month necessitated shoulder surgery that has his right arm in a sling. The son of former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, hired to coach rookies in the Gulf Coast League, will remain with Rochester at least until June.
Ervin Santana and Rick Porcello, the Opening Day starters for the Twins and Red Sox, will make their final tuneup starts Wednesday at JetBlue Park.