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Updated: March 14th, 2011 4:08pm
Live from Florida, Day 26: Kevin Slowey not sweating uncertainty

Live from Florida, Day 26: Kevin Slowey not sweating uncertainty

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

Today's result

Twins 9, Marlins 0

• RHP Kevin Slowey pitched four innings, allowing zero runs and only two hits while striking out three.
• RHP Nick Blackburn pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one.
• INF Luke Hughes went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer -- his fourth of the spring.
• 3B Danny Valencia went 1-for-3 with a mammoth two-run blast off the "PedsOrtho" sign in left field.

Who's hot?

• Slowey is doing everything in his power to make manager Ron Gardenhire's decision about the final rotation spot as difficult as possible. Slowey breezed through four innings on Monday, and he has now thrown 10 scoreless innings in his last three appearances, including a 'B' game against the Pirates.

A 10-inning spring sample size certainly shouldn't trump the major-league track records of Slowey and his main competition, Scott Baker, or even Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing, but posting zeros on the board in March likely helps the right-hander.

So exactly how much does Slowey sweat these last two weeks of spring?

"None, really," he said. "It's not really worth sweating it. I think you ask any one of the guys in this clubhouse, we'll do anything it takes to help this team win. And I think we've seen that the last couple years.

"You've seen a guy like Jim Thome, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he doesn't get 300 at-bats last year. He's not complaining one bit. He's talking about how excited he is to be a part of a championship team. I think if a guy like that can be satisfied with just being part of the team, certainly I can do the same."

• Hughes' four home runs and 13 RBIs lead the team by a vast margin this spring. He also leads the team with 10 strikeouts, but if the season started today, it would be hard to deny Hughes a spot on the 25-man roster. He also played shortstop for a few innings on Monday.

The good news for Hughes, who is not necessarily a defensive wizard, is that Gardenhire doesn't ask for utility guys "to be gold-glovers or anything like that. I just ask them to be serviceable players who make the routine play and get the routine out."

• Thome was hitless in his first 14 spring at-bats, but he singled and walked in three plate appearances on Monday. This hardly qualifies him as being "hot," but it definitely pulls him out from the "who's not" category.

Who's not?

• INF Trevor Plouffe has had a disappointing camp all-around. He made two bobbles at second base on Monday and now has five errors this spring. Not to mention, his throwing has been erratic, at best, at both shortstop and second base. Offensively, after going 1-for-4 on Monday, he is still just 5-for-29 with one walk this spring.

Numbers game

45: The Twins sent 14 players to minor-league camp on Monday, trimming the roster from 59 to 45. Among those demoted were right-hander Kyle Gibson and outfielder Joe Benson, both of whom will likely see major-league action at some point before the year is over.

51: Kirby Puckett, who died on March 6, 2006, would have turned 51 years old on Monday.

Health watch

• Keep an eye on catcher Joe Mauer (knee), who may find himself in the lineup as a designated hitter on Wednesday.

• 1B Justin Morneau is "feeling really good, and actually is not having any signs at all -- actually feeling great," Gardenhire said. Morneau is wanting to "push the envelope," which is clearly a positive sign.

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka is nursing a mild quad strain. Gardenhire said the injury would likely not cost Nishioka any games if this was the regular season.

• OF Michael Cuddyer (foot) continues to progress. Regarding the hole in Cuddyer's foot that was previously inhabited by a wart, Gardenhire said, "the hole's almost not a hole anymore. We're getting there."

Overheard

"I asked him, 'Mate, have you ever played shortstop.' He went, 'Are you serious?' And I went, 'Very serious.' Then I went, 'Nevermind the question, just go play short.'"
-- Gardenhire, recounting a conversation with Hughes in the dugout during Monday's game.

On deck

The Twins have an off-day Tuesday before hosting the Mets at Hammond Stadium on Wednesday. LHP Brian Duensing is scheduled to face RHP Mike Pelfrey.

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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