3/8/2014 7:00 P.M. ET
Buxton flashes power with first spring homer
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Byron Buxton's first stint in big league camp may be winding down, with a round of Spring Training roster cuts potentially coming soon. But he said Saturday that he's become more comfortable in big league camp the last week or so, and he looked the part at the plate in the third inning Saturday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Buxton, the top prospect in baseball, swatted his first homer of the spring to left-center field off Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison, driving in Max Kepler and giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead. While the center fielder is often praised for his game-changing speed -- he stole 55 bases in 125 Minor League games last season -- the deep shot into the trees was a reminder that he also possesses considerable power at the plate.
The 20-year-old Buxton said the homer was just a matter of putting a good swing on a hanging slider, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire called it a "big home run." Buxton hit 12 homers to go along with 19 doubles and 18 triples between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers in 2013, giving him a .520 slugging percentage on the year.
Buxton entered Saturday's game hitting .143/.143/.214 this spring and finished the day 1-for-5 with a strikeout. He played for the second day in a row Saturday, as Gardenhire said he wanted to see as much of his talented young players as possible before they're sent over to Minor League camp.
"We're getting pretty close to deadlines on player movement and all those things, and I don't want to take any chances of not getting at least a look at them and letting them have some at-bats," Gardenhire said. "If they ask me to send them out or something like that, get them back over there where they're playing every day, I want to have my look at them. The only way I can do that is play them.
"I'm getting to know them a little bit, getting to see them play firsthand rather than somebody else's reports. That's it. Expectations? None. I just let them play and see what happens."
Buxton said he knows that he hasn't established himself quite yet, and he wants to cut down on his strikeouts, get on base more often and put himself in position to score more runs. More than anything, though, Buxton is just hoping to soak up as much of the experience as he can in his first Major League Spring Training.
"I just like coming out here and seeing a lot of competition, trying to see what I need to improve on and get myself better at," Buxton said. "That's what I'm still working on here. I'm going to keep working hard."
Hughes off to strong start in Spring Training
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Coming off a disappointing season with the Yankees, Phil Hughes will admit that he wanted to get off to a good start in his first spring with the Twins. So far, so good.
The 27-year-old right-hander allowed only one hit and a walk, while striking out two over three scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday, lowering his Grapefruit League ERA to 1.59 through two outings. While it's still extremely early, Hughes is looking for any way to put last year's 4-14 record and 5.19 ERA in New York behind him.
"You never want to struggle at any point. I think coming in after the year I had, to get off on a pretty good note is big," Hughes said. "But again, it's still Spring Training. Once the season starts, that's the biggest thing. It's all part of the process coming into this, get everything I want to get going in the right direction, and I feel like that'll translate once April rolls around."
Hughes threw 38 pitches on Saturday and reported back feeling good about his fastball and curveball, but not so much his changeup. He said he only threw two or three, and none of them were what he was hoping for. It's possible for him to survive without that offspeed pitch, but he said he'll often rely on it during outings where he's pitching without his best stuff.
"It's when I have those games when I really have to scrap together a good start, you'll see the changeup more often than not in those situations. When I maybe don't have my best fastball or my best breaking ball, it's a pitch that I can go to in situations to get some key outs," Hughes said. "Those 15-plus starts where you don't have your best stuff is when you really need those secondary, third pitches. It's necessary. When I'm going really good, I may not use it a whole lot, but those other times I need it."
Hughes said he plans to focus more on that pitch as the spring rolls on and his pitch counts continue to climb.
"Going three innings, sometimes the concentration goes on making a pitch and getting a guy out," Hughes said. "Before you know it, maybe you haven't thrown as many changeups, curveballs, cutters, whatever it is, as you'd like to."
Rosario to arrive at camp 'as soon as he's ready'
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Saturday that Eddie Rosario, the club's No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, has been given permission to report late to Spring Training as he deals with "personal issues" at home.
Rosario spoke last week with Twins farm director Brad Steil, but there is no target date for his arrival. Antony said Rosario will report "as soon as he's ready and he gets his stuff in order."
Rosario received a 50-game suspension without pay in January following a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The 22-year-old second baseman hit .302 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs in 122 combined games with Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain last year.
Antony said Rosario will work out but not play games during extended spring training while serving his suspension, and when he returns, the Twins expect him to play second base and all three outfield spots to increase his versatility and give him a better shot at making the Major League roster.
"That versatility plays in his favor," Antony said. "He made so much progress defensively at second base that we're confident in him playing either position."
• Antony said he spoke with general manager Terry Ryan for about 30 minutes on the phone while en route to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Saturday. Ryan is expected to begin a six-week radiation treatment program soon, but he stopped by his office at Target Field a few times this week and is doing well, Antony said.
"He didn't indicate whether or not he would be paying us a visit [in Florida during Spring Training], but I think he's pleased with the progress," Antony added.
• Left-hander Edgar Ibarra is still undergoing blood tests as the Twins doctors look into "a little bit of a medical condition that's not an injury," Antony said. Antony added that the team's doctors told him Ibarra did not have Hepatitis B, and it's too soon to predict when he'll be able to pitch in a game.
"Right now, we're not too concerned about that," Antony said. "I know he'd love to get out there, but right now we want to make sure he's healthy and check out all that stuff."
• Right-hander Kyle Gibson is scheduled to pitch against the Phillies on Sunday, Antony said.
• Right-hander Matt Guerrier could pitch in a game as soon as Tuesday, Gardenhire said. Guerrier is working his way back from mid-August surgery to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow and could still break camp with the Twins.
"He's a reliever. All he's got to do is be able to go back out there for an inning or so. We'll see," Gardenhire said. "We like him. Just see how he does, see how his arm comes along and go from there."
• Don't expect to see outfielders Oswaldo Arcia (stomach virus) and Aaron Hicks (right elbow discomfort) in a game until Tuesday at the earliest. The Twins are "just being a little cautious" with Hicks, according to Antony. Hicks has said he feels fine when he throws and feels "just a little tightness" when he swings.