FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka has a sprained left pinkie finger and will miss Monday's game against the Rays, according to general manager Terry Ryan.

Nishioka, who sprained the finger while making a tag at second base, is day to day. He was originally slated to be in the starting lineup against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla.

"He was scheduled to play," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's not going to go tomorrow. He's going to stay here for the next couple days -- today, tomorrow -- and then we'll see where he's at the next day."

Nishioka, who is battling for a spot on the roster as a backup infielder, is hitting .278 in 18 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Span a late scratch with neck stiffness


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins outfielder Denard Span was a late scratch from Sunday's starting lineup against the Yankees with neck stiffness, and he's considered day to day.

Span, who was slated to start in center field and bat leadoff, was replaced by Joe Benson in center. Left fielder Ben Revere moved up to the first spot in the order, while Benson batted eighth.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that Span's injury is not serious and didn't come as a result of a play in Saturday's game against the Pirates. The injury is also not related to any concussion-like symptoms that Span has been dealing with since sustaining his initial concussion in a home-plate collision on June 3.

"I think he came out of that game yesterday and felt a little stiffness in his neck," said Ryan, who added that Span could return to the lineup as early as Monday. "He's day to day. He might've slept on it wrong. I don't think it's anything other than a little stiffness. If this is the biggest injury we have to worry about, I think we'll be in good shape."

Gardenhire pleased with Blackburn's stuff

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Even though right-hander Nick Blackburn tossed three scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut against the Yankees on Sunday, helping the Twins to a 5-1 win, he wasn't fully satisfied with his outing.

Blackburn, who had thrown scoreless innings in two "B" games against the Red Sox, said he wasn't as consistent as he has been this spring. He allowed three hits, hit a batter and struck out one over three scoreless frames.

"My mechanics up until today had felt so good," said Blackburn, who threw 41 pitches, with 29 going for strikes. "But I'm still fairly pleased with today. It's not like I was all over the place, or falling off the mound or anything. It just wasn't as smooth, and I think it had something to do with adrenaline. So once I get that under control, I think I'll be fine. I was still able to get the ball in and mix speeds. So I'll take it."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was happy with Blackburn's outing and noticed the right-hander's mechanics are in better order this spring.

"I just like that the ball's going over the plate, and it's a really heavy ball," Gardenhire said. "He's powering it in there really good -- good, hard sink. He's cutting it a little bit, but he's got a good angle, standing on that back leg and standing up a little taller. That keeps that arm up and the whole package. The ball's got good angle and good sink. Heavy, heavy ball.

'Loud' homers a good sign for young Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After hitting just three homers through their first nine Grapefruit League games, the Twins finally showed some power by doubling that total in their 5-1 win over the Yankees on Sunday.

Joe Benson was the first to homer, with a solo shot in the fifth inning before Danny Valencia hit a solo homer in the sixth and Michael Hollimon crushed a three-run blast in the eighth.

"It's called Jim Thome getting loud," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked. "We're getting loud. That's our new theory in hitting -- we're going to start getting loud. We'll see what happens. I like to see the ball fly. Get the barrel on it and see what happens."

Benson's homer gave the Twins an early lead, and it marked his first home run in quite some time, as he didn't hit any as a September callup with the Twins or during his time in the Venezuelan Winter League.

"It felt good," Benson said. "I didn't have any home runs in September and didn't have any in Venezuela. I kind of hit a dry patch, so it felt good to give us a 1-0 lead and kind of get us going for the day."

Valencia was the next go yard, hitting his second homer in as many days. He had hit a three-run shot against the Pirates in the Twins' 4-2 win on Saturday.

"It makes it all the more worthwhile, that's for sure," Valencia said. "It makes you feel like you're not out there taking 100 swings and getting blisters all over your hands for nothing. It's not so much the results I'm looking for, but the comfort in the batter's box and the feeling of my swing being short and direct to the ball."

Hollimon, a non-roster invite, continued his hot hitting, as he's 4-for-6 with a walk in five games this spring.

"I got the pitch that I was looking for," Hollimon said. "I just tried to put a good swing on it and it found my barrel, which is good."