FORT MYERS, Fla. – What a welcome.
Four pitches into his spring debut Wednesday, Joe Mauer took a cut fastball from Josh Lindblom off his left forearm.
“Good first spring training at-bat there,” he said. “A cutter up and in. It got away from him a little bit, but it happens.”
Little else happened for Mauer or the Twins, who were limited to five hits in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates at Hammond Stadium. The Twins first baseman, held out of action for the first week of Grapefruit League action because of the unusually long camp this year, walked and struck out in his other two plate appearances, but accomplished some minor goals.
“Right now, I’m just trying to see some pitches, get some timing going,” said the 33-year-old Mauer, who batted second in the Twins lineup. “It was pretty good for the first day. I felt like I was seeing it pretty good.”
Hitters saw Kyle Gibson’s pitches well, too. The fourth-year righthander recorded only five outs in his 45-pitch outing. Gibson surrendered leadoff doubles in both innings and each time, the runner scored. Gibson’s 1⅔ innings included six hits, two runs and a walk.
The Pirates’ other run came on a John Jaso solo home run off righthander Aaron Slegers. The Twins, one day after being shut out 19-0 by the Rays, managed only one run against Pittsburgh and fell to 2-4 in the Grapefruit League. The lone run came in the fourth inning, when Robbie Grossman and Matt Hague smacked back-to-back two-out doubles, Hague’s RBI hit falling just inside the right-field foul line.
Craig Breslow, trying to make the team as a nonroster lefthander, faced four batters and struck out two of them, impressing Twins manager Paul Molitor. Breslow is using a new, lower arm angle and “I’m fairly confident that it’s going to play pretty well to lefthanders,” said Molitor, who also noted that Breslow’s velocity reached 91 mph. “That slinging action that he had, it’s a little different look. To righties, you kind of wonder, but he’s shown he’s not afraid to throw front-door two-seamers to righties to keep them from diving out there.”