FORT MYERS, FLA. – Shortstop Jorge Polanco has left the team to take care of a personal matter and is expected to return to the club in a few days. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that Polanco left early Thursday morning.
At Polanco’s request, no further details will be provided. But indications are that Polanco should be able to pick up where he left off once he returns to camp. Polanco last appeared in a game Tuesday, where he was 1-for-3 with two RBI in a win over the Pirates in Bradenton. He’s batting .250 with three RBI.
Righthander Michael Pineda was charged with three earned runs over four innings Friday, but that did not reflect the quality of his outing. For three innings, Pineda flashed the ability that encouraged to Twins to pay him last year just to complete his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, striking out two while inducing five ground-ball outs.
Pineda has a solid fastball — he hit 94 miles per hour on the radar gun — but likes his slider, too. He’s thrown that pitch 36 percent of the time in his career, and that was the pitch the Orioles couldn’t square up Friday. Pineda also worked on an additional weapon.
“We worked in the changeup too,” he said. “I focused on my changeup because I know how my slider dives, so I throw a lot of sliders in the game all the time. Right now, I’m using my changeup more, and it is working really good.”
He struggled some in the fourth inning, giving up an infield hit, bloop single, RBI single then a two-run double. The Twins defense contributed by botching a rundown with a throwing error by catcher Jason Castro. But Pineda has had few hiccups in camp.
“We talked earlier about him spinning the ball, but the changeup applies too,” Baldelli said. “These are things that don’t necessarily always come back immediately, but it’s been a point of emphasis. Initially spinning it. Honestly, I think he looks good, and I think he’s going to be more than ready when we break.”
• Shortstop Wander Javier, who hit an RBI double in the second inning, left the game after the third because of a right quad strain. The Twins said the move was precautionary. Javier has played the past two games since Polanco left camp.
• Lefthander Gabriel Moya continues to struggle with soreness in the back of his shoulder and remains shut down. Baldelli hoped that Moya would be cleared to play catch in a few days.
• Righthander Mike Morin pitched a scoreless eighth and has thrown seven scoreless innings.
Righthander Kyle Gibson, who has thrown five scoreless innings, will start Saturday as the Twins face the Rays in Port Charlotte. Lefthander Tim Collins and righthanders Matt Magill and Morin will follow Gibson. Righthander Yonny Chirinos will start for the Rays. First pitch is at 12:05 p.m., and the game will be televised on FSN.
La Velle E. Neal III