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Updated: March 4th, 2011 3:38pm
Live from Florida, Day 16: Nathan 'more comfortable'; Young still out

Live from Florida, Day 16: Nathan 'more comfortable'; Young still out

by Phil Mackey
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Friday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Friday's result

Twins 5, Rays 4

• RHP Kevin Slowey pitched three innings, allowing only one hit.
• RHP Kyle Gibson allowed one run on one hit and a walk in his inning of work. He also struck out one.
Jason Kubel went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka made his second start at shortstop. He made a throwing error in the first inning and went 1-for-3 with a single, a stolen base and a run scored.

Health watch

• RHP Joe Nathan (elbow) made his second spring-training appearance on Friday, pitching a 1-2-3 fifth inning. Nathan threw nine pitches struck out catcher Jose Lobaton swinging on a curve ball to end the frame. He also induced a warning-track flyout and a lazy foul pop-out.

"I think the last hitter, especially, it really started feeling like my timing was getting better," Nathan said. "It's getting a little more comfortable."

Nathan is pleased with his command so far, which is a positive sign. Most pitchers struggle to regain command quickly after Tommy John surgery.

Nathan said his surgically-repaired elbow was "definitely sore," the day after his last outing, but he added, "I think expected soreness, nothing over the top."

"I was able to still come in and do the drills and play catch and all that, but it was sore. But stuff I could throw through. And then the day after that was fine. I felt like I could have pitched in a game the following day."

Nathan is actually slightly more interested in how his arm reacts the day or two after pitching, as opposed to the actual results of the outings themselves.

"We're still looking to be able to throw back-to-back," Nathan said, "and that's the goal."

• LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) threw 36 pitches in a 'B' game Friday morning -- his first spring-training outing of the year. Liriano struggled with control, telling reporters afterward, "I wasn't able to locate my fastball today. I think I was overthrowing. It was my first outing and I think I was pretty excited to be out there throwing. I think I just have to calm down, make an adjustment, stay back and locate."

• OF Delmon Young (turf toe) is "not close" to playing, according to manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's not playing in the near future. He's day-to-day."

"We thought he might be ale to get going, but it's kind of acted up again. He's not going to play for the next few days at least."

• C Joe Mauer (knee) could begin catching bullpen sessions as soon as Sunday, Gardenhire said.

Catching up with ... Scott Diamond

The Twins have two handfuls of pitchers competing for what will likely be three open bullpen spots on the 25-man roster. One of the names at the top of that list is 24-year-old left-hander Scott Diamond.

The organization likes Diamond a lot, and if he doesn't land a spot on the 25-man roster, the Twins -- per MLB Rule-5 draft rules -- must offer him back to the Atlanta Braves, which means he'll receive more than a fair shot this spring.

"The Twins' philosophy is strike one and attack hitters, and that's kind of where I've always gauged my own focus and philosophy on," said Diamond, who played for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

"Each organization has their own ideas. I really like this Twins' idea and the philosophies that they have. From their big-league staff down to the minor leagues, it's the same ideas passed on. And a lot of the coaches are on the same page. That really helps. No matter who you talk to, they're all going to help out."

Diamond posted a 3.46 ERA with 123 strikeouts to 54 walks in 158 2/3 innings as a starter between Double- and Triple-A last season, and he allowed only six home runs all year.

With the Twins, Diamond is viewed as a bullpen arm.

"I'm trying to get used to it," he said. "Just trying to keep warm out there, and try to keep the body loose. I'm still going to try to throw strikes and attack guys, and I actually like it because I can gear up with a little more and try to punch out, or throw a little harder. It helps me cut loose a little."

Diamond's repertoire consists of a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, and his strength lies in inducing groundballs.

Numbers game

95: The Hammond Stadium radar gun flashed 95 mph on one of Nathan's fastballs Friday, which is almost certainly inaccurate.

"I don't think that's right," Nathan said.

Nathan is believed to be throwing his fastball somewhere in the upper-80's to low-90's right now.


"Maybe if Manny was playing."
-- A little kid, after being asked by one of the Twins' equipment managers if he wanted to be the Rays' batboy for Friday morning's 'B'-squad game. As it turns out, Manny Ramirez did make the trip to Fort Myers, and he went 1-for-2 with a double in the 'varsity' game.

On deck

The Twins travel to Port Charlotte on Saturday to face the Rays once again. Right-hander Nick Blackburn is scheduled to face right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd