03/28/2013 11:18 PM ET
Mauer getting extra work in with new pitchers
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The first three pitchers in the Twins' rotation -- Vance Worley (Phillies), Kevin Correia (Pirates) and Mike Pelfrey (Mets) -- are new to the organization this season. That alone would have meant a steep learning curve for All-Star catcher Joe Mauer. Throw in the fact that played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and the degree of difficulty only increases.
Terry Ryan isn't worried.
"We've had a lot of pitchers come and go over the last several years. He's had a lot of opportunity to get used to the change," the general manager said before Thursday night's 6-1 loss to the Red Sox at Jet Blue Park. "He had to get used to the WBC pitchers this last month. So I don't think it takes him all that long. He certainly has been around long enough. A couple times through the lineup or a couple times through their starts, I'm sure he's somewhat acclimated now."
Just to be sure, Mauer is getting in all the work he can with the new guys. He caught Worley on Wednesday. He caught Correia on Thursday night. And he'll catch Pelfrey when the Twins wrap up Grapefruit League play on Saturday.
"He's trying to get as familiar with those guys as he can. And he's pretty adept at knowing what he's trying to accomplish with these guys," Ryan said.
Mauer had a double, one of Minnesota's five hits against Boston. He's batting .448 for the spring. Ryan is encouraged not only by how well he's performed, but at how much work the catcher's getting behind the plate. Last season, coming off knee problems, Mauer started 144 games, but 42 were at designated hitter and 30 were at first base.
"I think he's probably as prepared to go into the season as he's been in a number of years," the general manager said. "He's healthy. He's been out there quite a bit and it's been behind the plate for the most part. It's not been at first or any of that stuff. I think he's well prepared. He looks good. He's swinging the bat well. I think he feels comfortable behind the plate. So I suspect he's ready to go. He's probably itching to go."
Hendriks, Diamond impress with progress
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins got good news on the health of two pitchers after right-hander Liam Hendriks threw in the bullpen and left-hander Scott Diamond pitched in a Minor League game Thursday.
Hendricks was hit on his pitching hand by a line drive off the bat of Baltimore's Brian Roberts on Tuesday, and he had to leave his start after 2 2/3 innings. But his side session went well.
"[Special instructor Tom Kelly] said everything looked great, that he was kind of surprised he looked that good," said manager Ron Gardenhire.
Diamond is on the 15-day disabled list as he continues to recover from offseason arthroscopic elbow surgery, but he remains on track to make his first start of the regular season on April 12 against the Mets at Target Field. Until then, he'll stay in warm weather. He's scheduled to pitch in a Minor League exhibition game on April 2, then a game for the Class A Florida State League Fort Myers Miracle on April 7. If all goes well, he'll be activated in time to start against the Mets.
"We're going to keep him in the warm weather. Who knows what [Triple-A] Rochester and [Double-A] New Britain will be like?" Terry Ryan said.
The general manager acknowledged that it's likely to be pretty raw in Minneapolis on April 12.
"That's not important then," Ryan explained.
Diamond threw 65 pitches in the Minor League game on Thursday. He allowed five hits, including a home run. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. He also didn't get a lot of help from his defense.
"It was kind of ugly down there. We missed a lot of balls," Gardenhire said. "It was just one of those rough days. You've got to be able to pitch through it. He did OK. He got his [work] in, the whole package."
'Confidence-builder' for Correia in spring finale
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Facing a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fifth inning Thursday night at Jet Blue Park, Twins right-hander Kevin Correia pitched like it was a playoff game. Or at least the second game of the regular season, when he's scheduled to start against the Tigers.
Correia struck out Daniel Nava. He got Dustin Pedroia to ground out. He got out of the inning without allowing a run.
"If that's a regular-season game, that's a pretty important inning when you've got a guy like [Boston's Clay] Buchholz throwing as good as he was," Correia said. "You don't have room to give up many runs if you want to win the game. So to get out of that inning was huge. You're always trying to get an out. You're never out there like, 'Oh, I don't care if this guy gets a hit and they score some runs.' You're always trying to do what you can do. I've had some jams in some other games, so I've had a lot of opportunities to practice that and get ready for the regular season."
Said manager Ron Gardenhire: "That was fun to watch Correia. The ball was moving, he used his pitches well. What we're looking for is them to get their arm strength built up, their pitches built up and at the end here, finish up with a good performance. And he did all that. So it ended up being a nice spring for him. He did all that.
"That [pitching out of trouble] is a big moment. He was about at his pitch limit, so if he gives up two or three runs? You don't want to end like that. So him getting out of it, that's a confidence-builder for him. He made some pitches when he had to. In Spring Training, you don't put too much stock in that, but you want them to finish good." Overall, Correia scattered five hits and a walk over five innings, allowing just one run.
"It was a good one to end on," he said. "It was my most efficient outing so far in the spring probably. It's nice to have that as your last one before the season starts."
First baseman Justin Morneau was scratched from the lineup with mild back tightness shortly before Thursday night's game. Manager Ron Gardenhire wasn't overly concerned and said Morneau was willing to play. "But this is not something you want to mess with with two days left in Spring Training," the manager said.
There has still not been an announcement on whether right-hander Tim Wood (strained rotator cuff) will open the season on the disabled list. "Wood is still on hold," said general manager Terry Ryan. "We'll make that decision here in the next couple days."
The Twins had just five hits Thursday night, but Gardenhire said that's not a concern. "I think they're all worn out a little bit now," he said. "We've played a lot of baseball. We've had a lot of travel. Some of our big boys are a little gassed. But we're getting there. We'll get back up north and I think everything will be refreshed."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.