03/02/2013 4:42 PM ET
Mauer, Morneau, Perkins among Classic-bound Twins
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Glen Perkins all played in their final game with the Twins on Saturday before departing for Arizona for the World Baseball Classic.
Mauer and Perkins -- both native Minnesotans -- are set to play for Team USA, while Morneau is slated to play in his third Classic with Team Canada.
Morneau went out with a bang, as he crushed a solo shot off Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves in his final at-bat in the fourth inning.
"Hopefully it means we're ready to go," Morneau said with a smile. "It's a good way to head in there, that's for sure."
Morneau has played well this spring, as he's hitting .471 (8-for-17) with a team-high eight RBIs in six games. He said it was important to play in six of the club's first eight Spring Training games to get ready for the Classic.
"As soon as the game starts, you know your intensity will be a little higher than it would be during this point in spring," Morneau said. "I'm not saying I'm not trying here or anything like that, but I have to know I'll be ready to play in playoff-type baseball in a few days. I think everyone knows what's at stake and that's what makes fun."
Perkins also fared well against the Red Sox, as he retired all three batters he faced in the fourth, including two strikeouts. He's yet to give up a run in 3 1/3 innings.
"To get selected to play with a group of guys like that is humbling more than anything," Perkins said. "It's been a long road to get there, so I'm excited for it. I'm looking forward to ride the coattails. There are so many players there who are better than I am."
Mauer, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 and is hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a .563 on-base percentage in five games. He caught five innings before being replaced by catcher Chris Herrmann.
Other Twins players playing in the Classic are Andrew Albers (Canada), Samuel Deduno (Dominican Republic), Chris Colabello (Italy), Shairon Martis (Netherlands), Tom Stuifbergen (Netherlands), Jose Berrios (Puerto Rico), Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico) and Drew Butera (Italy).
"A bunch of guys are leaving, that's for sure," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We tried to get them plenty of action and we were able to do that. I think they're ready to play in games and that was our goal. They're healthy leaving and hopefully they come back healthy."
Diamond feels 'awesome,' ready for next 'pen session
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins left-hander Scott Diamond threw his first full bullpen session on Thursday without any issues and is scheduled to throw another on Sunday.
Diamond, who had a bone chip removed from his left elbow in December, threw 30 pitches on Thursday and is expected to throw about 45 pitches on Sunday.
"Everything felt awesome," Diamond said. "Mechanically, everything is getting back in sync. It wasn't the sharpest, but it was only the first one of the year. But everything went well and I'm feeling strong. Everything is starting to get back."
Diamond, though, said it's still too early to predict whether he'll be ready by Opening Day on April 1 against the Tigers. He said he plans on pitching in his first Grapefruit League game in mid-March and it'll be up the coaching staff and training staff to see if he'll be stretched out enough to be ready for the start of the regular season.
"We'll figure that out when it comes," Diamond said. "It depends on what the coaching staff wants to do."
Gibson feeling good, working to improve command
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson said he was happy with the way he felt physically on Saturday, but that the results just weren't there against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.
Gibson, who had Tommy John surgery in September 2011, gave up one run on three hits over 1 2/3 innings. He needed 48 pitches to record five outs in his first Grapefruit League start after tossing two scoreless innings in relief on Sunday. He said he's still looking to improve his command.
"It's not where I want it to be," Gibson said. "I'm getting closer. I think my first outing I was little better. I think this outing I was trying to do a little too much. I was down in the zone, but sometimes that's not good enough. Sometimes you've got to bring it up a little bit to get them to swing on those low ones."
Gibson, the game's No. 49 overall prospect, according to MLB.com, said he's having trouble locating his slider, which is usually one of his better pitches and the one he said felt best during his Arizona Fall League stint last year. But he added he's had no setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and is happy with where he's at with about four weeks left before Opening Day.
"Physically, I feel pretty good," Gibson said. "I'm getting there. Obviously, there are some things I need to work on, but I feel pretty good."
Swarzak progressing in recovery from rib injury
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Anthony Swarzak played catch for the first time this spring on Thursday, and again on Friday, and said everything is progressing on schedule.
Swarzak, who cracked two ribs in a wrestling incident with teammates while in Minnesota for TwinsFest on Jan. 25, threw from 60 feet on Thursday and 90 feet on Friday. He took Saturday off from throwing, but is expected to keep stretching out from farther distances until he's ready to throw a bullpen session.
"I'm very pleased with the way things are going," Swarzak said. "Everything is going well. Now it's just a matter of getting my arm into condition to throw off a mound."
Swarzak added there's no exact timetable for when he'll throw off a mound or get into a Grapefruit League game.
"I'm pretty much in the trainers' hands right now," Swarzak said. "I don't think they have a set day. It's more of a feel thing and how I feel every day. So it's going to be a pace yourself type of thing. But everything has felt great the last two days I've thrown a baseball."