Last year's Cy Young Award runner-up Kenta Maeda gave up no hits or runs with three strikeouts during his two innings in the Twins' 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.
But his first outing this spring wasn't as simple as it looked.
The Twins' projected No. 1 starter struck out two in a 1-2-3 second inning after he escaped a bases-loaded first inning.
"It was a good situation to be in," Maeda said in Japanese through an interpreter during a video conference call afterward, "though the first outing in spring would have been better if it was a quick 1-2."
Second baseman Jorge Polanco made a throwing error, Maeda hit a batter and shortstop J.T. Riddle committed a fielding error. Maeda ended the inning by getting center fielder Manuel Margot out with a grounder to third on a second-pitch slider.
"To be in a situation, in a jam, that'll just prepare me for the season should those situations ever come in a real game," Maeda said.
He went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his first season with the Twins last year and was runner-up to Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
The Twins, now 2-3 in spring training, loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but Keon Broxton grounded into a force play at second base to end the game.
Byron Buxton provided a highlight at the plate, driving home reserve infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, who had doubled, with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called Maeda's short afternoon a "good preparation" outing.
"He showed us a little bit of everything," Baldelli said. "Pitched himself into a little traffic and pitched himself out. He mixed his pitches well. … Physically, I thought he looked really good."
Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless fifth inning utilizing a slow curve ball after he allowed three runs, two homers, four hits and got only two outs Sunday against Boston.
"Duff has the ability to spin the ball in different ways," Baldelli said. "Not every guy has that ability. A lot of guys can spin the ball, but it comes out one way. Duff can really play with the speed of that pitch and change the shape a little bit, too."
Three-time All Star and 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson is aimed toward his spring debut Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"He's doing really well," Baldelli said. "He feels good. Physically, he's in as good of shape as I've seen him. When he gets out there, I expect he'll have a regular progression, probably playing every other day for a period of time."
Who's that man?
Twins advance scout Frankie Padulo was a pinch runner in Thursday's seventh and final inning while Baldelli tries to keep a roster stretched a little thin healthy this spring. Padulo normally is stationed in the clubhouse during games, sitting in front of video machines, but he wore a uniform Thursday.
Asked for a scouting report, Baldelli said: "Good ballplayer, tremendous instincts and field awareness. Brings a lot to the table both on the field and in the clubhouse. Almost like having a coach on the field."
• Righthanders Matt Shoemaker and Michael Pineda will start the next two games Friday against Atlanta and Saturday against Boston.
• Red Wing's Ryan Boldt started in right field for the Rays, walked and scored a run hitting ninth in the order. He flew out to left in his first at-bat.
• Maeda on throwing in front of fans again: "There was a good buildup of nerves in a good way. I really enjoyed being out there."
• One of eight outfielders competing for perhaps three spots, Kyle Garlick on finding his way to the majors with the Dodgers and the Phillies despite being a 28th-round pick in the draft (852nd overall) in 2015: "Just kept grinding, kept moving along. Being a 28th-rounder and making it to the big leagues just shows my grit and perseverance and love for the game, really."
• Baldelli dropped a teaser about Donaldson's new hairdo, but refused to say more: "I'm not going to be able to help with this in any way. You have to see it to believe it."