Live from Florida, Day 2: Alexi Casilla hoping to hit himself to No. 2
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Friday at Minnesota Twins spring training:
Catching up with ... Alexi Casilla
The diminutive infielder appears destined for one of the starting jobs up the middle, depending where Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka ends up.
And if that works out, Casilla knows where he wants to land in the batting order.
"I'd like to be in the second spot," Casilla said. "I'm not going to deny that."
Last season, the Twins' primary No. 2 hitter was departed 2B Orlando Hudson, who spent 126 games there.
Casilla, 26, made 23 of his 69 appearances in the No. 2 slot -- and in that limited action there bettered Hudson in batting average (.301), on-base percentage (.358) and slugging percentage (.466).
"But I can be in the ninth spot, too," Casilla said. "In the second spot, I've got the ninth spot in front of me and Joe Mauer behind me. In the ninth spot, I'm working like I'm a leadoff hitter, too."
In an abbreviated infield session on Thursday, Casilla was at second and Nishioka at shortstop. And just like in the field, Casilla's spot in the batting order probably will depend on his new teammate.
Nishioka was a leadoff hitter in Japan and probably has the inside track on the Twins' No. 2 spot behind CF Denard Span entering the exhibition season.
45: The number of pitches thrown by Joe Nathan in his bullpen session Friday -- 28 fastballs, 10 breaking pitches and seven changeups. Nathan threw a 40-pitch session on Wednesday and reported no discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow.
0: The number of fans watching Tsuyoshi Nishioka work out on the back practice fields. Fans crowded mostly around the main practice fields to watch bullpen sessions and batting practice.
1: List of Japanese baseball terms Gardenhire printed off the Internet in hopes of improving communication with Nishioka.
• 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) remains in Arizona, isn't expected to join the Twins until position players report on Tuesday and still must be cleared by doctors before he's allowed to face live pitching. "Right now, it's just getting him here," Gardenhire said. "He's cleared to work out and cleared to do all that -- the last step is getting him cleared to play in games." Position players must report to Florida by Wednesday.
• C Joe Mauer (knee surgery) showed no obvious signs of trouble while taking batting practice with a group of minor leaguers. He also worked on signs series but didn't catch any bullpen sessions. "The things we can guard against is him sitting back there and squatting all day and catching bullpens," Gardenhire said. "That's not going to keep his legs underneath him. especially early in camp. Once we get going towards the games, we'll mix it up and play him when we think we have to and let him get some swings in, DH, stuff like that."
• RHP Scott Baker (elbow surgery) backed off throwing earlier this week after feeling some discomfort, but he was back to playing catch on Friday. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said everything is fine with Baker, who will likely throw a bullpen session this weekend. "He's full-go," Gardenhire said.
• LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) had his bullpen session cancelled because of soreness and tightness. But both Liriano and coaches downplayed the issue, and Anderson said he expects Liriano to resume throwing next week.
"If you put a wristband on Casilla, it's going to cover his whole arm. We'll work it out -- believe me, we will."
-- Gardenhire, on the possibility of having players wear Japanese phrases on armbands to help them communicate with Nishioka
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to work out again on Saturday morning.