BRADENTON, Fla. -- Third baseman Danny Valencia had an impressive day at the plate against the Pirates on Saturday, going 2-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer in the Twins' 4-2 win.
Valencia showed opposite-field power with a double in the fifth, before turning on a pitch for a three-run shot over the left-field fence in the sixth. Both hits came against left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes.
"That was nice," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Danny has been working at it. He's been on the extra field taking extra swings, doing things in the cages. He's told himself he's going to use the whole field and drive the ball. When he starts looking around and tries to hit the ball where they ain't, is when he starts to get in trouble. But when he gets the barrel out on the ball, he can drive it with anybody, so that was nice."
Gardenhire has been impressed with Valencia's propensity to hit the ball to the opposite field with power so far this spring, as he said that Valencia got away from that last season.
Valencia went through a sophomore slump of sorts last year, when he hit .246/.294/.383 with 15 homers in 154 games, after hitting .311/.351/.448 with seven homers in 85 games as a rookie in '10.
"He's so stinking strong," Gardenhire said. "When he doesn't try to get so goosey and hit the ball in the upper deck, he can do a lot of things. It's just better fundamentals. He has better balance at the plate and he drove the ball today. You saw that. That ball was crushed into the wind at the time."
Baker has difficulty in 'B' game vs. Bucs
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Scott Baker struggled in a "B" game against the Pirates on Saturday, but said after his outing that he wasn't worried about the results and feels fine.
Baker was scheduled to start the game, but because the team bus didn't arrive until 30 minutes before gametime, he didn't pitch until the third inning.
Baker pitched in two innings, but recorded just four outs, surrendering six runs (five earned) on six hits -- including a two-run homer by Matt Hague.
"I stunk," said Baker, who threw 44 pitches. "I didn't get the ball down. I wasn't finishing pitches. Obviously, I'm not a robot, but it just happened to be a poor day. I don't know if the bus ride had anything to do with it or not. I felt fine. I just wasn't finishing pitches, just wasn't very effective."
More importantly, Baker said that he's not experiencing any issues with his elbow and expects to be stretched out to about 55 pitches in his next start.
"Physically, it's fine," Baker said. "I do get sore. I get sore, I recover, I get sore, I recover. I've been like that my whole life, so it's a progression. So you have probably the same soreness after every outing, just general soreness, and then your pitch count goes up until you're where you need to be to start the season."
Doyle struggles in outing against Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got his first look at Rule 5 Draft pick Terry Doyle, who started against the Pirates on Saturday at McKechnie Field.
Doyle, though, didn't have his best stuff, as he allowed two runs on seven hits -- including three doubles -- and a walk over 2 2/3 innings.
He particularly struggled in the third, giving up four straight hits, only to be bailed out by Nate McLouth getting caught stealing and Rod Barajas getting thrown out at home on a double by Casey McGahee.
"It looked like he got tired," Gardenhire said. "I mean [the ball] really kind of started ballooning up there late. He said he felt fine, but the ball quit diving, and it definitely started floating up there the last couple hitters."
As a Rule 5 pick, Doyle must stay on the active roster the entire season or offered back to the White Sox. But Doyle said he's trying not to let the pressure of making the club affect him, as the decision is ultimately out of his control.
"Results matter. But at the same time, you can see today I didn't have my good stuff," said Doyle, who threw 43 pitches. "If I had my good stuff and I had given up seven hits, I would have been a little bit more happy with the outing, I guess. But it's kind of a mix of stuff and results, at this point."
The one positive that Doyle said he can take out of the outing is that he's feeling healthy so far this spring.
"I fell behind hitters early in the count today, but I felt pretty good," Doyle said. "That's probably the only thing I'm going to take out of today. I felt strong and felt fresh, which at this point of Spring Training is a good thing. I'm not wearing down or feeling any fatigue, which is what a lot of guys are struggling with, right now."