Notes: Crain feels fine after first start
Right-hander hadn't pitched since shoulder surgery in May
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There was a time last season when it seemed a long shot that Jesse Crain might be ready to pitch in any sort of game this spring.But on Monday, Crain made his first game appearance since he underwent right shoulder surgery in May to repair a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum. The right-hander pitched one inning in a "B" game against the Red Sox at City of Palms Park, allowing one run on two hits while walking one. The results were secondary for Crain. He said he was just happy to have made what he felt was a big step in his progress. "I felt strong. I was just a little jumpy," Crain said after his outing. "I mean, I'm excited because it's been a long time since I was out there." Crain threw a total of 25 pitches in his one inning. It was a little more than had been anticipated due to the bit of trouble the right-hander found. After recording a one-pitch out against the first batter he faced, Crain gave up two straight hits -- a double and a single -- and even issued a two-out walk. "Hopefully, the next time I'm out there, I'll be a little more comfortable and I'll be able to stay back instead of jumping out and leaving some balls up," Crain said. "And hopefully, I'll command the zone better than I did today." "He had to labor a bit, for sure," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire added. "But he got through it and that's all that matters." The biggest question of the day was just how Crain's shoulder might feel after having the added adrenaline of a game situation. But Crain said his shoulder felt strong and he no longer thinks about it when he's on the mound. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said they will see how Crain feels on Tuesday before deciding his next step. It's likely that he will have a light throwing session on Wednesday, with his next game action coming possibly as soon as Friday. Who's on First: Brian Buscher saw his first game action at first base in the late innings of Monday's game with the Reds. The position is one that Buscher had never worked at prior to this spring. With the Twins looking for backup options at the spot and Buscher fighting for the 25th spot on the roster, they had the infielder begin taking balls there. Buscher replaced Justin Morneau in the sixth inning and played five innings at first base after the game went to 10 innings. Gardenhire seemed pleased with what he saw, along with how Buscher has progressed this spring. "He's worked very hard and he came in working very hard on his defense at third base," Gardenhire said. "Now [we've] asked him to go over and learn a new position, too. Like I've said before, he's moving around as well as anybody in this camp."
Slipping and sliding? Carlos Gomez's blazing speed has been on display in nearly every game he's played this spring, but on Monday, his burners may have been on just a little too high.After hitting a ball off the wall in left-center field in the seventh inning, Gomez looked to be in for a stand-up triple. However, when he was rounding second base, the outfielder slipped and fell face-first into the dirt. He was thrown out when trying to return to second base. But the play was cause for a few laughs in the dugout. "He dove a little early it looked like," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "He was flying. Sometimes, when you go that fast, you lose your step, I guess. I never went that fast, so I wouldn't know." Long day at the office: Jason Pridie, who is one of three outfielders in competition for the center-field spot, has yet to get a start there this spring. But he did do something on Monday that most players have yet to do: play more than an entire game -- in one day. Pridie started the club's "B" game in right field and then he took over for Gomez in center field for the top of the eighth inning against the Reds. In total, he played 12 innings of baseball on Monday. Tied up: Any controversy on whether the "B" game with the Red Sox counted toward the two team's annual Mayor's Cup competition was averted. The contest ended in a 2-2 tie. Scott Baker started the game and pitched three scoreless innings. He cruised through the first two before getting in a bit of a jam in the third inning. He was able to work his way out of it as he didn't give up a run and allowed just two hits in the outing. Twins tidbits: Francisco Liriano is still scheduled to throw another batting practice session on Tuesday morning. If all goes well, the lefty could make his debut in a game either on Thursday or Friday ... The Twins are going to reduce Tommy Watkins' load this spring by removing him from catching duties. All the work behind the plate had been causing Watkins to be a tad more sore than usual, so they'll have him focus on playing the infield and the outfield.
Quotable: "I think they know what I can do. I don't know how many [starts] I made in the Minor Leagues, but every game I pitched was a start. Obviously, I haven't gotten the opportunity up here, but I don't think they are worried. I probably would have gotten a chance to start last year if I hadn't gotten hurt. That set me back a little bit. I just want their confidence that I can go and get guys out, whether it's starting or relieving." -- left-hander Glen Perkins when asked about whether he feels the Twins are looking at him for a starting roleUp next: Right-hander Boof Bonser returns home for his second start of the spring. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Al Lang Field at 12:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The Rays will send right-hander Edwin Jackson to the mound. It will be a return home of sorts for Pridie too, as he faces his former team for the first time since the trade that brought him to Minnesota.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.