FORT MYERS, FLA. – Twins manager Paul Molitor saw some things he liked on Sunday during a 14-5 rout of the Orioles at Hammond Stadium.
The Twins pounded out 15 hits in the game, with five players collecting multiple hits. The team batting average in Grapefruit League games rose from .260 to .272. Trevor Plouffe led the attack by going 2-for-2 with a home run and four RBI. His three-run homer in the second inning broke a 3-3 tie and put the Twins ahead for good.
“He’s established himself as a very valuable part of what we are trying to do here,” Molitor said of Plouffe.
Several projected regulars, including Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier, had not drawn a walk in a spring training game. Both worked Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez for walks on Sunday to spark the offense. Few are worried about Mauer’s ability to work the count, but Molitor noted Dozier drew 28 fewer walks in 2015 than the year before and would like to see him be more selective for the overall good of the offense.
“There are a lot of pitches he still thinks he can hit a long way,” Molitor said of Dozier, who was an All-Star last season but hit only .236 while swatting a career-high 28 home runs. “We’re trying to increase his discipline because if he is going to be at the top [of the order] we’d like to see those on-base numbers improve a little bit without sacrificing too much of the run production.”
Byron Buxton, who began the day batting .167, lined a double off the left-field wall in the second inning, his hardest-hit ball of the spring. The Twins are waiting for the highly touted Buxton to put his skills into play, and Molitor thinks the young outfielder is starting to figure out some things at the plate.
“I think he’s seeing the ball better,” Molitor said. “Recognition has been better. That is going to be a huge part of how quickly he’s going to be able to develop offensively. Bat speed and all those types of things.
“The better he gets at doing that, we’re going to see him begin to fulfill some of the expectations people have for him. He hit that ball very crisply.”