FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins couldn't have scripted their Grapefruit League opener any better.
Not only did the club come away with a 7-3 win over the Rays at Hammond Stadium on Saturday, Denard Span, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer combined to go 4-for-8 with two RBIs.
But more importantly, the three key players got through the game without any issues, which pleased manager Ron Gardenhire -- even though it was still just their first exhibition game.
"I'd rather have them playing like [that] on April 3, but it's the first day of Spring Training," Gardenhire said. "But like everybody else, it's nice to see them out on the baseball field playing and feeling good. Absolutely."
The three players combined to play in just 221 games last season because of various injuries, including Morneau and Span's battles with concussion-like symptoms and Mauer's early season knee problems that forced him to miss 57 games.
So it was good sign for the Twins to see them all playing together in the same lineup for the first time since Aug. 13.
"It feels good, even just to get to the field and see the lineup card and see everybody in there," Span said. "And also today, to get through Day 1 with everyone walking off the field in one piece. So it's definitely good for us, right now, and a good feeling."
The trio didn't do much in the first inning, as they combined to go 0-for-3 against left-hander David Price, including Mauer and Morneau striking out looking.
But Span singled in the third inning before Mauer picked up his first RBI of the spring with a sharp single back up the middle against right-hander Jhonny Nunez.
"It was a good first day to hit the ball on the nose and hit with a guy on base," Mauer said. "It's fun getting back out there, and playing games and getting that adrenaline going.
It marked Mauer's last at-bat of the day, but it was an encouraging sign to have him out there so early in spring, as he didn't make his Grapefruit League debut until March 16 last year because he was coming off offseason knee surgery.
"I feel a big difference," Mauer said. "I've said all along that this spring is night and day compared to last year. I'm just trying to stay that way."
After striking out and popping out in his first two at-bats, Morneau asked to remain in the game for a third at-bat in the fifth inning.
After Span hit a leadoff single off right-hander Alex Colome, Morneau got his chance with two outs and a runner at third base. Morneau went with a fastball the other way -- with the infield shifted to the right side -- to pick up an RBI and end his day on a high note.
"I'll definitely take it," Morneau said. "Runner on third, the third baseman has to be over, gives you a lot of room. I'll take it. Not a bad start to the first day."
Morneau added he's happy about the way camp has been going so far, as he's been getting through his workouts without any problems and hasn't felt any concussion-related symptoms since January.
It's been a change of pace for him, as he played in just 69 games last year after battling concussion symptoms and undergoing surgeries on his neck, left wrist, left knee and right foot.
"It's been good," Morneau said. "I've been very happy. Some real long days. We've had to make sure we've done all of our defensive fundamentals every day. We've done a lot of stuff, more stuff than we've done in past camps -- at least the past few camps since I've been here. Hopefully, it pays off. But at the same time, it's been a good test to get through those days -- and this is an even longer day -- and I'm happy so far."
Span, who dealt with concussion-like symptoms last year after sustaining a concussion in a home-plate collision on June 3, has also been symptom free in camp.
He was tested on Thursday, when he collided headfirst into the center-field fence during a simulated game, and had a few more scary moments on Saturday, as he fell down twice while making catches in center field.
"I'm trying to test this thing out, get everything thing out of the way," Span joked. "I'm just crashing and running into everything like that now."
But so far, Span, Mauer and Morneau have passed every test this spring, including in the Grapefruit League opener, and the hope is that they stay healthy heading into the season.
"It's always exciting," Mauer said. "The first home game is usually the projected lineup. Anything can happen in spring. But hopefully when Opening Day comes, we'll have a lot of us guys in there and ready to go."