FORT MYERS, Fla. – How remarkable are the renovations to Hammond Stadium? Torii Hunter played Thursday night.
Eight years after vowing, following a serious beaning, "This was my last night game in Fort Myers — there's not enough light," the new Twins right fielder basked in a big hand from the sellout crowd, then lined a single off Red Sox starter Joe Kelly to score the game's first run in a slugfest the Twins eventually won 9-8.
"They got new lights! This stadium, it's awesome," Hunter said after going 1-for-3 in his first spring game with his new/old team. "Just playing in the outfield, hearing fans behind me — I used to hear gators and water and cows. Now I hear fans out there, cheering."
The Twins, using their projected starters at all eight everyday positions, gave the fans plenty of reasons to cheer in their Grapefruit League opener.
Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Hunter and Oswaldo Arcia collected four consecutive hits in the first inning; Aaron Hicks lifted an RBI triple to right and scored on a Danny Santana double in the second; and Eduardo Escobar launched a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the third.
Kyle Gibson held the Red Sox to one run on two hits in two innings.
"I felt pretty pumped up out there, [and my] sinker was a little flat because of it, and everything was up in the zone," he said. "It was a lot of fun working on some stuff, and having some stuff work out."
They didn't work out so well, however, for reliever Tim Stauffer, who allowed six runs, five of them earned, while retiring only three batters, or Ryan O'Rourke, who relieved Stauffer with the bases loaded and immediately gave up a grand slam to Dustin Pedroia with his first pitch.