– Kyle Gibson took the mound at Hammond Stadium to throw a simulated game Monday morning, the latest step in his progression to getting in a spring training game. Gibson faced a handful of hitters, taking breaks every few batters to simulate game usage.

The righthander’s offseason was marred by a bout of E. coli, which led to a weight loss of 15-20 pounds. So the Twins are taking things slowly with him while he hits the weight room to regain lost strength.

He eventually will re-join the rotation, and no one is worried about him being behind other pitchers in camp. It’s about making sure Gibson stays in the rotation whenever he is ready.

Gibson, 10-13 with a 3.62 ERA last season, is considered a key to the Twins starting rotation.

Castro makes debut

Catcher Jason Castro was 1-for-2 with an RBI on Monday against Baltimore in his first action of spring training. Castro is coming back after knee surgery limited him to 19 games last season.

He is expected to be good to go for the regular season, but the Twins feel the prudent thing to go is to ease him through camp. So he is expected to get behind the plate only when a projected starter is on the mound. That will give Mitch Garver and Willians Astudillo time to get some innings behind the plate.

“He says he feels great, and he’s ready to go and I’m going to basically probably have to calm him down at times because he feels ready,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But he’s a professional and a veteran guy who knows his body very well.

“He’s going to get some at-bats at the DH slot. He’s going to get back out there, and we’re going to try to get him out there with our major-league starting pitchers, guys that we have penciled in and give him those innings and let him get familiar with those guys.”

Swing away

One pitch before Byron Buxton’s two-run double in the first inning, he fouled off a 3-0 pitch. Yup, Buxton had the green light.

It’s a reflection of how managers let their hitters prepare for the season. It’s spring training and hitters need to get their timing ready for the regular season. And that won’t be achieved by keep the bat on a shoulder.

“I’m sure there will be situations over the course of the spring, just depending on what’s going on in the game, where we might want to calm it down a little bit in situations like that,” Baldelli said, “but that’s up to us, myself and the staff to kind of manage that, but for the most part, I think being ready to swing probably makes the most sense.”

Granite taken off roster

To make room for the newly signed Marwin Gonzalez on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated center fielder Zack Granite for assignment.

Granite, 26, hit .237 in 40 games with the Twins in 2017, and he went through a miserable 2018 after injuring his shoulder diving for a fly ball in spring training.

On deck

Tyler Duffey will make his second appearance of spring training when the Twins play Pittsburgh at Hammond Stadium. Duffey threw a scoreless inning Saturday against Baltimore. Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Romero are among the pitchers scheduled to follow. Max Kepler, Garver and Eddie Rosario are among position players scheduled to play.

La VELLE E. NEAL III