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Updated: March 6th, 2011 12:45am
Live from Florida, Day 17: Hughes, Kubel off to hot starts

Live from Florida, Day 17: Hughes, Kubel off to hot starts

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Saturday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Saturday's result

Twins 6, Rays 1

• RHP Nick Blackburn threw three scoreless innings, recoring two strikeouts and five groundball outs.
• LF Rene Tosoni went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles.
• 1B Chris Parmelee struck out four times. But he also hit a solo home run.
• C Jair Fernandez was stung in the mouth by a bee in the Twins dugout while drinking from a Gatorade cup. The training staff had to remove the stinger from his mouth during the game. Fernandez later singled.

Who's hot?

• RHP Nick Blackburn: Not only has he thrown five scoreless innings this spring, but he also has peace of mind knowing that manager Ron Gardenhire views him as "one of my guys" in the starting rotation.

• INF Luke Hughes: Through the first week of games, Hughes has been one of the Twins' two best hitters. In 13 at bats, Hughes is hitting .385/.467/.846 with two home runs and five RBIs. He has played second base and third base, and Gardenhire plans on using him at first base as well. The more positions Hughes can make himself comfortable at, the better chance he has of contributing to the 25-man roster in April or May.

• OF Jason Kubel: After going 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and an RBI on Saturday, Kubel is now 7-for-13 with four doubles, a home run and five RBIs this spring.

Who's not?

Too early to tell.

Numbers game

89: Gardenhire said right-hander Pat Neshek's fastball was clocked at 89 mph in his last outing. If accurate, this is a very good sign for Neshek, whose velocity dipped into the low-80s at times near the end of last season. Neshek is two years removed from Tommy John surgery.

2: The number of games Tsuyoshi Nishioka started at shortstop before he and Gardenhire decided that second base was the better fit.

Health watch

• C Joe Mauer (knee) could catch a bullpen session on Sunday, but Gardenhire made no promises.

• OF Delmon Young (turf toe) is not likely to see his first spring-training action for at least the next few games. "He's not running," Gardenhire said. "His toe is not there. It's in the joint. A little tendinitis in the joint. As we thought it was improving, then he had a setback."

Overheard

"We're going to try to get away from the drifting away. I called Dobie Gray on that one."
-- Gardenhire, after a reporter suggested that Alexi Casilla tends to drift in and out mentally on the baseball field.

On deck

The Twins return home on Sunday to host the Orioles at Hammond Stadium. Left-hander Brian Duensing will take the mound in what will be the first of three straight home games.

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