03/20/2013 9:16 PM ET
Plouffe nears return to Grapefruit League action
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Third baseman Trevor Plouffe fared well in Minor League games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and if all goes well on Thursday, he could return to Grapefruit League play on Friday against the Yankees.
Plouffe, who has been out since March 8 with a strained right calf, played third base on Wednesday after serving as designated hitter on Tuesday.
"He did great down there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got one hit off the wall. He's running fine with no problems. He'll do it again tomorrow in an early game here."
It's the second time this spring that Plouffe has been slowed by a strained right calf, as he also missed the first three Grapefruit League games with the same injury. But Gardenhire said Plouffe is fully recovered this time and that it won't be an issue heading into the regular season.
"He didn't feel it," Gardenhire said. "It's not sore at all. So that's a good thing."
Wednesday's game vs. Rays postponed by rain
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins' scheduled game against the Rays on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium was postponed due to rain, marking the second straight game affected by weather, as Monday's game against the Marlins was called after five innings because of rain.
The rain forced the Twins to adjust their schedule, as right-hander Mike Pelfrey was slated to start against the Rays but will instead travel to Sarasota to pitch against Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate on Thursday.
Right-hander Liam Hendriks will make his scheduled start against the Yankees in a night game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
Several Twins players, including Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll and Trevor Plouffe, will stay back at the club's Spring Training complex and play in Minor League games. The travel list to Tampa was not altered as a result of the rainout.
"They'll all be hitting and playing in Minor League games all over the place," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And all the guys we had going on the trip are going."
Deduno's Classic performance impresses Twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Samuel Deduno's performance in the World Baseball Classic certainly wasn't lost on Twins executives and coaches.
Deduno, who is a non-roster invite to Spring Training after making 15 starts with the Twins last season, started three games for the Dominican Republic in the Classic, and posted an 0.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 13 innings.
He also threw five scoreless innings in the championship game against Puerto Rico to lead the Dominican Republic to its first World Baseball Classic title. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire watched it on television and came away impressed with the way Deduno pitched.
"I'm really happy about how he did there," Gardenhire said. "I think it says an awful lot about what he can bring to the table. He was facing a lot of really good hitters, so it says an awful lot about how he can get guys out. And we saw that last year."
Twins general manager Terry Ryan also liked what he saw from Deduno, who showed improved command, compared to last season when he had a 4.44 ERA, but walked 53 in 79 innings. But Ryan wants to see him go deeper into games, as he only reached the seven-inning mark four times last year and never pitched more than seven frames.
"Starting pitchers you're hoping are going to go seven," Ryan said. "So what's he going to do when he goes seven? They certainly have strict pitch limits in the WBC, but we're looking for innings and wins. And we've said this before, but when he throws it over, he doesn't get hit."
Deduno is expected back to camp on Thursday, and the Twins are trying to figure out a way to work him into some Grapefruit League action, as he's in the mix for the a spot in the rotation along with Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries and P.J. Walters.
Gardenhire said they hope to pitch him on Sunday against the Blue Jays and might even have other pitchers throw in a Minor League game to make room for him.
"We'll try to keep him on pace so five days from last night," Gardenhire said. "So we'll try to fit him in there somewhere."
Swarzak throws first live bullpen session
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Anthony Swarzak threw his first live bullpen session since fracturing his ribs in a horseplay incident in late January.
Swarzak, who is expected to start the season on the disabled list, threw about 30 pitches to a group that included Drew Butera, Dan Rohlfing, Jeff Clement, Eduardo Escobar and Ray Olmedo on Wednesday.
"It was good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He threw the ball over. That was good. He felt great. He said it felt great to be back on the mound again so that was good."
Swarzak is scheduled to throw a second live bullpen session on Friday, but will not pitch in the Grapefruit League this spring, according to Gardenhire. The Twins plan to stick to pitching him in Minor League games so they can retroactively place him on the DL before the season.
"We got build his arm strength up and that's going to take a little bit here," Gardenhire said. "This was just his first time live BP and I'm sure he'll have to do it again. And then he'll start throwing down there [in Minor League games]."