FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It comes as no surprise, but Ricky Nolasco will be the Opening Day starter for the Twins on March 31 against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters in Tampa, Fla., on Friday.
Nolasco, 31, joined the Twins on the largest free-agent deal in club history this offseason with a four-year deal worth $49 million. It'll be the third time he's started on Opening Day in his career, as he also did it in 2009 and '13 with the Marlins.
"Nolasco is going to start on Opening Day, and we're just going to work it in from there," Gardenhire told reporters before Friday's split-squad action against the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field.
Nolasco has made two Grapefruit League starts, giving up two runs on six hits over six innings. He also saw one of his scheduled starts washed out due to rain March 6, but threw a simulated game that day to stay on his normal schedule.
Nolasco has been lined up to start on Opening Day since the beginning of Grapefruit League play, but Gardenhire didn't make an official announcement until Friday.
Gardenhire praised the right-hander earlier this week for the way he carries himself on the mound. Nolasco posted a 3.70 ERA in 199 1/3 innings with the Marlins and Dodgers last season, and has a career 4.37 ERA in eight big league seasons. He's also thrown at least 185 innings in five of the last six seasons.
"He just knows what he's doing," Gardenhire said. "He goes about his business pretty good. He's pretty tough out there on the mound. You can tell he doesn't like to [mess] around too awful much. He goes right at them, uses his pitches, knows how to add and subtract, all those things that you hope when you brought him over here."
Pelfrey happy with his longest spring outing
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey turned in his longest outing of the spring on Friday, pitching into the fourth inning against the Orioles at Hammond Stadium.
Pelfrey, who went three innings in his last outing, asked to come back out for the fourth inning on Friday, as he told pitching coach Rick Anderson his arm was still feeling good.
Pelfrey was mostly solid on the afternoon, giving up one run on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings.
"I don't know if I ever say I'm totally ready for the start of the season because I still have three more starts and I have to take advantage of that," Pelfrey said. "I still have arm strength to build up. But I feel good about where I'm at right now and I'll continue to build on it. But it's night and day from the way I felt last year, so I'm pretty optimistic."
Pelfrey also pitched out of a jam in the second when he loaded the bases with nobody out, only giving up one run on a sacrifice fly from Quintin Berry.
"I'd prefer not to be in those situations, but they're going to happen and I thought it was good damage control," Pelfrey said. "But I kind of shot myself in the foot walking [Nolan] Reimold when I was ahead of him."
• Shortstop Pedro Florimon, who had his appendix taken out on Feb. 17, saw his first action of Spring Training in a Minor League game. Florimon played three innings at shortstop, making one error in the field. He also went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
• Right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier, who had surgery in mid-August to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow, made his Grapefruit League debut against the Orioles on Friday. He tossed a scoreless inning and struck out two. His first outing of the spring came in a Minor League game on Tuesday, when he also threw a scoreless inning.
• Right-hander Kyle Gibson had his first rough outing of the spring in Minnesota's split-squad game against the Yankees in Tampa. Gibson, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in five innings this spring, gave up three runs on four hits over four innings. He's in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, but remains a long shot with Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond and Vance Worley out of Minor League options. Deduno, who threw three scoreless innings on Thursday, remains the favorite.