Live from Florida, Day 35: Liriano K's 9 as band gets back together
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Wednesday at Minnesota Twins spring training:
Twins 5, Orioles 2
The band is back together.
For the first time all spring, manager Ron Gardenhire penciled in his "A" lineup on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium:
CF Denard Span, 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, LF Delmon Young, DH Jason Kubel, RF Michael Cuddyer, 3B Danny Valencia and SS Alexi Casilla, with LHP Francisco Liriano on the mound.
Piecing together this collection has been no small feat over the last month. At one point in early March, Mauer (knee), Morneau (concussion), Young (toe) and Cuddyer (foot) were all sidelined at the same time.
One by one they all emerged back into the lineup, with Cuddyer being the last to join on Wednesday night. Cuddyer finished 1-for-2 with a double and a walk in his official spring debut.
Morneau finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double down the right-field line -- his first official hit in five spring games. He also played seven innings at first base.
Young went 2-for-3 with a double and a run, and Mauer went 1-for-3 with three RBIs while catching five innings.
• In his first outing since officially being named a member of the Twins bullpen, Kevin Slowey pitched one inning, walking one and striking out one.
Odd outing for Liriano
In one of the weirdest stat lines of the spring, Liriano threw 76 pitches in three innings and recorded all nine outs via strikeout. He also walked three and allowed four hits, including a mammoth solo home run by Adam Jones that hit near the top of the batter's eye in center field.
"A little bit out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But he got his work in."
"I would think Frankie would probably say he's a little bit disappointed in the way he threw the ball tonight, but the thing is is he's healthy, he's feeling good, and now we just got to get him in the zone."
Liriano's fastball topped out at 94 mph on the Hammond Stadium radar gun, but he had trouble locating it all night.
That said, his stuff was nasty enough to tally nine punchouts.
"To be honest, I feel pretty good," Liriano said. "I think I was rushing tonight again."
Liriano, who suffered some bad luck in 2010, said in order to go deeper into games, he may throw more fastballs.
"Whatever it takes to go deeper in the game, throw more innings," he said. "Whatever pitch I have to throw to get some quick outs."
"Percentages": In the first inning on Wednesday, Span was on second base with nobody out, and Nishioka took it upon himself to bunt him over to third base.
"I played the percentage, and with Joe up next I figured it was better to bunt," Nishioka said through his translator after the game.
Mauer eventually drove Span home with an RBI groundout, putting the Twins up 1-0.
"You really thought that I put that on?" manager Ron Gardenhire said, with a smile, about Nishioka's bunt. "I'm a good manager sometimes, like four days out of seven."
"I told him, rather than sacrifice in those situations, I'd like to see him bunt for a base hit.
"When you get late in the game, maybe I'll put it on. Maybe I'll say I want you to bunt him over in the eighth and ninth inning, when you finish it out. But a lot of times -- and I told Nishi this -- he's a really good hitter. So I trust him to be able to swing and maybe knock them in too.
"But I want him to be able to play the game, and we don't like robots. If he wants to bunt there, if he wants to swing there, I'm OK with it. He's a pretty good player. He has a job to do and that's get him over, but he can hit it that way, he can bunt it that way, bunt for a hit. I don't have a problem with it."
1.1: The number of runs -- on average, over the last 20 years -- a team scores in an inning after having a runner on second with nobody out.
0.9: The number of runs a team scores in an inning after having a runner on third with one out.
The percentage of bunting a runner from second to third with nobody out actually decreases a team's run expectancy.
That might not be as much of an issue late in games, however, when one run has more value.
29: The number of players who still have a shot to crack the 25-man roster after the Twins announced the latest cuts on Wednesday.
• Cuddyer (foot) said he will not wear anything special in his shoe to cushion the area in his foot where a wart was removed. "Just an orthodic," Cuddyer said, "just like 90% of the people in here have. Nothing special."
As for the hole in his foot, Cuddyer said, "It's still there. There's still a hole there. Obviously not as big as when I first had the procedure done, but there's still a hole there, and I still feel it. But it's manageable. That was the goal, was get it to the point where it was manageable, and go out and play."
Cuddyer said playing could slow the healing process, but he still plans to play every day. "I'd rather be out there playing, because it's not affecting me."
"I can deal with the pain, that's not a big deal."
"I yelled at Ryo. He wasn't that happy. Ryo's going to take a lot of heat this year. Nishi's too nice, so I just yell at Ryo."
-- Gardenhire, jokingly talking about yelling at Nishioka's translator, Ryo, after the second baseman made a baserunning blunder in Wednesday's game.
The Twins travel to Clearwater on Thursday for a match-up with the Phillies. RHP Nick Blackburn is scheduled to pitch against LHP Cole Hamels.