Span sits out game, hopes to play Tuesday
Battling neck stiffness, center fielder sees chiropractor
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Twins center fielder Denard Span stayed back at the club's Spring Training complex on Monday to take some swings in the cage and see a chiropractor after missing Sunday's game with neck stiffness.
Span said he tweaked his neck during outfield practice before Saturday's game and started to feel stiffness in his neck early in the game. But Span said the injury is not related to the concussion-like symptoms that plagued him last year upon suffering a concussion in a home-plate collision on June 3.
"It feels better than it did [Sunday]," Span said. "There's a lot more range of motion. So I'm staying back, and I'll try to take some swings in the cage and see how it feels. So I'll also go to the chiropractor and get checked out. But hopefully I'll be back in there [Tuesday]. I'd like be on the field, but I'll leave that up the trainers."
Span has fared well, with a .385 batting average and .467 on-base percentage in five games this spring. He's also pleased that he hasn't suffered from any concussion-like symptoms.
"I feel like it's still early in spring, but I've felt good up there," Span said. "I've been able to keep up with the speed of the game and I feel all right."
In his third start, Pavano pleased with velocity
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Carl Pavano allowed one run on four hits over four innings against the Rays on Monday, and he came away pleased with his outing.
Pavano, who had allowed three runs over five innings in his first two starts, said it was the best he'd felt all spring. His velocity was also up, as he said he was hitting 88 mph on the radar gun after throwing 84 in his previous start.
"I felt better," Pavano said. "I think my arm strength was better. I was able to peek at some velocities. It's showing the arm strength is better and some of the pitches were sharper than they were the first two outings. So that's a good sign. My pitch count went up, and I felt a little fatigued at the end, but I still felt like I could've went another inning, which is a good sign. So it was just another good step in the process."
It also marked the first time that Pavano worked with Ryan Doumit behind the plate, and he liked what he saw from the catcher. Doumit threw out two runners at second base, while Desmond Jennings stole second despite a pitchout from Pavano.
It was a good sign for the Twins, considering Doumit has thrown out only 20 percent of attempting basestealers the past two seasons.
"Sometimes for me, it's been a footwork issue," said Doumit, who took full blame for the high throw on Jennings' steal. "I can get a little long with my feet. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel, the muscle memory, and we've been doing a lot of throwing this spring and it's been good for me. It paid off today."
Hughes feels good after playing 10 innings
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Luke Hughes made a big step forward in his recovery from a strained right shoulder, as he played 10 innings at second base and hit the game-winning home run in the Twins' 2-1 win over the Rays on Monday.
Hughes, who injured his shoulder in a home-plate collision in his native Australia in early February, launched a solo homer off Tampa Bay right-hander Albert Suarez in the 10th inning.
"It felt good today to actually get some at-bats, four at-bats, and see some more pitches, which was great," said Hughes, who went 2-for-4. "It was nice to get through it. Everything felt good. It was good to actually be out there and run around a little bit and get on the diamond and get in the game a little bit more. I like doing that a lot more than DHing. It was nice to get through it and everything went well, so it was good."
And while the box score indicated Hughes was the only Minnesota player to homer, Brian Dozier was apparently robbed of one by the umpires in the first inning.
Dozier hit a deep fly ball off right-hander James Shields in the first off a wooden deck above the left-field fence, but it was ruled in play. Dozier had to settle for a triple, and he ended up going 2-for-4 with a walk.
"I thought it was [a homer]," Dozier said. "Then Desmond Jennings, my buddy -- he's from where I'm from, and he was in the outfield -- he said it's clearly a home run. But at the same time, I'll take a triple."
Plouffe making smooth transition to outfield
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Trevor Plouffe, making the conversion from shortstop to outfield, made his fifth Grapefruit League appearance in left field against the Rays on Monday.
Plouffe has looked comfortable in the outfield -- he reached over the fence in foul ground to make a nice play against the Rays in the second inning on Monday and made a running catch at the warning track against the Pirates on Wednesday.
He's only played in left field this spring, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Plouffe will get some starts in right field later this spring. He's also expected see some time at shortstop, as he could be used in a utility-type role this season.
"He's doing fine," Gardenhire said. "I think he can go to either corner pretty easily. We're not afraid to stick him out in right, either."
Gardenhire also said that Josh Willingham hasn't had any issues playing right field despite his inexperience. Willingham has played in 693 career games in the outfield, but has only played in right field 35 times.
"He's seeing the ball good and seeing all the angles and the way the ball slices," Gardenhire said. "He hasn't misplayed a ball, so he's been fine."
Hollimon appreciates opportunity to play
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Twins infielder Michael Hollimon has been turning some heads early in Spring Training, as the infielder is hitting .667 (4-for-6) with a home run, four RBIs and a walk in five games.
Hollimon, a former top prospect in the Tigers' organization, split time at Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester last year, hitting .231/.326/.416 in 126 games. He fared better at Triple-A, with an .830 OPS in 29 games.
It came after he had surgery to repair a torn right labrum in 2009 and played independent ball in '10.
"Hollimon can hit a little bit," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He blew out his arm. Last year, he came back and got a chance in Spring Training. They kept him, and as the season went along, he put some good swings on the ball. He didn't hit much for average, but he put some swings on it. His arm strength's getting a lot better. He's a good athlete."
Gardenhire added that Hollimon is best at second base, but can handle third base as well. Hollimon was drafted as a shortstop and said he's open to playing the outfield.
"Getting to be here is just fantastic," Hollimon said. "I got the opportunity with these guys last year and they were gracious enough to invite me to camp. So it's all about opportunity, and so I'm just trying to play as hard as I can for as long as I can. I'm just trying to make the best of the opportunity. It's all I can do."