BRADENTON, FLA – The World Baseball Classic is set to return in 2016, and Team Puerto Rico might be tough competition.
The Twins on Friday benefited from the exploits of their young Puerto Rican contingent during an 8-3 victory over Pittsburgh at McKechnie Field. First basemen Kennys Vargas and outfielder Eddie Rosario each homered and righthander Jose Berrios pitched three scoreless innings in relief. The eight runs were the Twins’ second-highest output of the spring, coming one day after they beat Miami 7-6.
Berrios and Rosario played for Puerto Rico in the last WBC in 2013. Vargas, listed at 6-5 and 289 pounds, should join them next year.
Vargas went 3-for-3 with an opposite-field homer to raise his spring training average to .375. There was a breeze to left-center on Friday, but his home run was crushed.
Rosario clubbed a two-run, opposite-field homer to left in the fifth inning, giving the Twins at 7-0 lead.
“Every pitcher [Friday] threw sinker away, sinker away,” said Rosario, who is batting .313.
Rosario and Vargas have homered in the same game twice this spring.
“I think Vargas and Rosario have some kind of contest going on,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Berrios replaced starter Ervin Santana in the third and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up four hits while striking out two. Indications are that the first cuts of camp are coming as early as Sunday, and Berrios could be sent to the minor league side to continue to stretch out for the regular season. But Molitor has been impressed with Berrios’ six scoreless innings this spring.
“He’s done everything we could ask him to do,” Molitor said. “That’s all I can tell you at this point.”