Red Sox make Milone work

It is crunch time for those battling for the final spot in the Twins rotation. And Tommy Milone’s outing Thursday wasn’t exactly one that would encourage the Twins to write his name down in ink.

Milone struggled at times but did retire the Red Sox in order in his final inning. Overall, he gave up three runs over five innings on six hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Eight batters on base and 86 pitches over five innings won’t get a pitcher deep into many games.

“The linescore is not going to look very good,” Milone said, “but I felt very good, I was able to throw some strikes, and I battled, not letting it get to me and shutting it down when stuff is going on.”

Milone gave up two runs in the third, one on a wind-blown double off the fake Green Monster by Mookie Betts, the other on a David Ortiz groundout. Xander Bogaerts added an RBI double in the fourth.

Milone came back with a 1-2-3 fifth inning — against Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pedro Sandoval. He held Ortiz, who has crushed him in the past, hitless in three at-bats, throwing more changeups than he has in the past.

“The previous two innings I started to get too much of the plate, they started swinging early, squaring balls up and finding holes,” Milone said. “It was good to settle down that last inning and get those three straight outs and end it on a positive note.”

Now Milone, who has little experienced working as a reliever, waits to see if he’s landed a job in the rotation — or bullpen — in his battle with fellow righthanders Trevor May and Mike Pelfrey.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Milone said. “I can only control what I can control, so I just pitch.”

Injury updates

Lefthander Brian Duensing could throw in the bullpen Friday after taking a line drive off his left quad Tuesday.

“It’s sore,” Duensing said, “but it’s good.”

Duensing was encouraged by making it through a full workout day routine Wednesday, then backed that up Thursday and now is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Pirates. He has allowed two earned runs over 6ā…” innings this spring.

Josmil Pinto (concussion-like symptoms) worked out Thursday and felt good. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said the club will have to submit paperwork to the league before he can be cleared to return to action.

Back at work

Bullpen catcher Nate Dammann returned to work this week after having a mass removed from the right side of his shoulder on March 16.

How big of a mass?

“Softball-sized,” Dammann said.

Dammann said things were fine at the beginning of camp until someone hugged him around the shoulders and he felt pinching on a nerve. It never improved, so he had it looked at and needed it removed as the mass was growing up toward his neck. There’s still an open wound in the area that needs to heal, but Dammann was able to do some light throwing Wednesday and will eventually return to catching.

On deck

May will face Pittsburgh at Hammond Stadium. Lefthander Jeff Locke will start for the Pirates. Righthander Phil Hughes will pitch in a minor league game elsewhere on campus. Both first pitches are scheduled for 12:05 p.m.

la velle e. neal iii