Brent Rooker's rookie season with the Twins ended after seven games when he was hit by a pitch and needed surgery to repair a fractured right forearm.
His spring training officially started Tuesday when, in his first at-bat, he homered off Tampa Bay's hard-throwing Tyler Glasnow in the Twins' 6-5 win over the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla.
"I'm intending to homer every at-bat," he said. "It just doesn't happen every time."
Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac hit Rooker during a September call-up when he batted .316 with a home run and two doubles. The former Mississippi State standout underwent surgery shortly thereafter before his arm was put in a hard cast, then a removable splint. He was able to train without discomfort by December.
He is back looking to earn an outfield spot with his arm and swing strong again.
"My goal is to kind of prove that the success I had over those seven games wasn't the result of a small sample size," said Rooker, 26, "that that's who I am a player, that's what I can do if given the opportunity over a long period of time.
"In seven games I didn't prove anything to anybody else, but I know in those seven games I proved to myself how I felt, how confident I was, how comfortable I was in the box."
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called Rooker's opposite field homer Tuesday one hit off a true major league pitch.
"That was a really nice swing," Baldelli said. "We know Glasnow has real swing-and-miss stuff. He's a tough guy to face. But Rook has that ability to hit that fastball that may be a challenging a pitch for a lot of guys … He has power to all fields. I'm not surprised to see Rook hit a pitch against a guy like that.
"But it's always good to see. He looks strong and healthy."
Monday's game was changed from seven scheduled innings to six after Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash — the American League's 2020 Manager of the Year — requested it because of pitching considerations and Baldelli agreed.
Once a Rays coach, Baldelli didn't let the chance to needle his old boss pass.
"That's a Kevin Cash move right there," Baldelli said. "You've got to be pretty big to be able to change the game after the game has started. … Who am I to stand in the way of Kevin?"
Monday's starting lefthander Lewis Thorpe pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a walk. He said he felt "fantastic" after offseason workouts added nearly 30 pounds and leg strength following a disappointing 2020 season.
Thorpe hit Rays second baseman Joey Wendle in the helmet with a 90 mph fastball to start the second inning and Wendle left the game after he was attended to by a team trainer. Thorpe apologized in a video teleconference with reporters.
"That one just got away from me and it happens," Thorpe said. "It's part of the game, but I didn't mean to do that. It wasn't intentional one bit."
Twins center fielder Jake Cave was hit, too, by former Yankees teammate Dietrich Enns with a 75 mph pitch that glanced off his helmet.
"Dietrich's my buddy," said Cave, who had an RBI double. "I know he wasn't trying to me. It was a slow one. But I'll be talking some smack to him for that one for a while."
• Thorpe is one of eight pitchers competing for five starter's spots, but said he's no handicapper about his chances. "I just want to go out there and pitch and show that I belong," he said. "When Rocco gives me the ball, that's when I'm going to go out there and throw."
• The Twins changed start times for Target Field games April 12-14 against Boston from 6:40 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. An April 15 game against the Red Sox remains at 12:10 p.m. That means all seven games in the season-opening homestand will be day games.
• Baldelli when asked if he considered saying "no" to Cash's in-game request for six innings played: "You don't want to know what happens around here when someone gives him an answer like that."