Notebook: Low-key approach is the name of the game as workouts begin
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Ron Gardenhire had a simple message for his pitchers and catchers on Wednesday morning before the Twins went through their first day of spring training workouts at Hammond Stadium.
"Basically, today was get out there, don't try to do anything silly and overextend yourself," the Twins manager said. "No one is going to make a baseball team today. Go out there, go through the process, do your work. It's about being healthy.
"Once we get to the games then do your thing. Go through it, pay attention to the details and understand that we all have a job to do here. Acknowledge the people who come out to watch you, shake a few hands, say hi to a few people. It's spring training. Above everything else, don't try to do too much. We have a long spring here."
It would have been difficult for anyone to do too much on Wednesday.
A group of pitchers threw bullpen sessions, including Kevin Correia, Rich Harden, Kyle Gibson and Brian Duensing. Newcomer Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Thursday. Many of those in attendance on Day One simply went through pitchers fielding practice.
The Twins have 34 pitchers and nine catchers on their initial spring training roster, but Nick Blackburn (wrist surgery) and Lester Oliveros (Tommy John surgery) are rehabbing on the minor league side.
The Twins' full squad is scheduled to report on Friday and Saturday will be the first workout. There is a group of position players already in camp, including Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni.
Those six have good reason to want to arrive early and make a good impression. Hicks, Mastroianni and Benson will compete for the wide open center field job; Plouffe is the favorite to break camp as the Twins' third baseman but he is entering a crucial year; Parmelee looks to have a shot to win the right field job; and Dozier will be making the transition to second base.
"Guys are anxious," Gardenhire said of the early arrivals. "Once you get through TwinsFest and (Winter) Caravan and everything, guys are pretty pumped up about getting down here and getting going. I expect that.
"There are a few guy that don't come right away, whether its visa problems or what, you are going to miss a few like that but the reporting date isn't until Friday. This is a good turnout. Most of the guys are here. It's fun to see.''
Getting on the same page
Catchers Joe Mauer (U.S.) and Drew Butera (Italy), closer Glen Perkins (U.S.) and first baseman Justin Morneau (Canada) are among those on the Twins' 40-man roster who will leave camp this spring to participate in the World Baseball Classic.
The first round of games will be March 8 through 10 in Phoenix and the finals will be held March 17 through 19 in San Francisco.
Gardenhire said he has talked to United States manager Joe Torre about limiting the amount of innings Mauer catches in the tournament.
"We're pretty lucky to have Mr. Torre running that team," Gardenhire said. "He's managed and he understands what it is all about. I think he will do a nice job of protecting our players and everyone's players and not over-extending them because it's early.
"No matter how much we can give them here it is still going to be early. Joe is going to probably end up, talking to him and talking to them, doing some DH-ing and catching a game, five or six innings. ... It's going to be nice."
Tom Brunansky, not Joe Vavra, will be the Twins' hitting coach this season, although Vavra remains on the big-league staff as the third base coach and spring training coordinator.
Gardenhire said he does not anticipate any problems with having three men who have served as hitting coaches on the staff.
"I think we're all in it together as a staff," Gardenhire said. "Bruno is the hitting guy and, obviously what he wants will get done. But Joe has been one, Scotty Ullger has been (a hitting coach). We all have to work together here. I don't think there will be anyone stepping on anyone's toes. Everything will go through Bruno. Obviously, he's the hitting guy but Joe has worked with all of these guys. If Bruno is tied up with one guy, Vavra can help out. I think we all are going to work together pretty good."
Ullger, who has been the Twins' third base coach, hitting coach and bench coach, will now work at first base.
No need to rush
Scott Diamond would have been the logical opening-day starter for the Twins, but the lefthander underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery this offseason and might not be ready for the start of the season.
Diamond was the Twins' top starter in 2012, finishing with a 12-9 record and a 3.54 earned-run average, He had 90 strikeouts and 31 walks in 173 innings.
"I haven't gotten there yet," Gardenhire said when asked about Diamond's status. "We'll see how it goes during spring. We don't have a time frame for him. If he's ready, he's ready. If everything goes along fine and he's ready to go, he'll go with us. If he's not ready then we will back him off and do something different. Pretty simple stuff here. We're not going to force the issue. It's going to be dictated by the way he feels."