DUNEDIN, Fla. -- All three Twins players competing for the center field spot this spring started against the Blue Jays and made an impact in the Twins' 8-4 win on Tuesday.
Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson started in left, center and right field, respectively, and combined to go 4-for-12 with four RBIs, three runs and a walk.
"We had them all out there together, and they're all doing fine," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hicksie, that was nice to see, he had a real nice ballgame. Selective at the plate. Benson goes deep, and Masti had a nice ballgame. So they all got out there and ran around. I thought we ran the ball down really well out there."
Benson started it off by crushing a two-run homer in the second inning before drawing a walk in the seventh and scoring on a two-run blast from prospect Eddie Rosario.
"It was nice," said Benson, who hit the homer on a cutter from left-hander Ricky Romero. "I got a hit in the 'B' game the other day and it felt good to run the bases, but it felt even better to get a hit today in an actual Spring Training game.
Hicks also picked up two hits and just narrowly missed a homer, as he doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth and came around to score on a single from Mastroianni. Hicks later added an RBI single to center in the fourth.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get good pitches to hit and I'm trying to hit them solid," said Hicks, whose double came on a quick-pitch fastball from right-hander Esmil Rogers. "I'm not too worried about results. Right now, I just wanted to hit the ball solid and get good pitches to hit."
Morneau plays third straight game at first
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Justin Morneau got his wish.
While manager Ron Gardenhire was holding his media session after Minnesota's 5-4 win over the Pirates on Monday, Gardenhire received a text message from Morneau asking if he could play first base instead of serving as designated hitter against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Gardenhire already had him listed as designated hitter, but switched him to first base with Chris Colabello getting the start at DH. It marked Morneau's third straight game at first base, which is something he didn't do until March 22-24 last Spring Training.
Morneau said the reason for playing at first so much early in camp is to gear up for the World Baseball Classic, as he's scheduled to leave Sunday to join Team Canada.
"I just want to get my legs underneath me," said Morneau, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI against the Blue Jays and is hitting .444 this spring. "There's a big difference between playing five innings and playing nine. Playing three days in a row, I think, will speed that process up a little bit."
Morneau added that he also didn't want to just sit around and DH after a nearly 150-mile bus ride from Fort Myers.
"Two and a half hours on the bus and then get an at-bat, then sit there for an hour, then go up and try to get another at-bat, it's a little tougher," Morneau said. "Maybe if we were home, being DH might make a little more sense today. But it's kind of hard to stay loose in the dugout. You're just better off being out there, staying loose."
Plouffe goes 1-for-2 in spring debut
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Third baseman Trevor Plouffe made his Grapefruit League debut against the Blue Jays on Tuesday after missing the first three games of spring with a sore right calf.
Plouffe didn't show any signs of rust, as he went 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored in Minnesota's 8-4 win over Toronto at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
"It felt good," Plouffe said. "You just want to have quality at-bats no matter what goes on. But, obviously, it felt good to get an RBI and help the team get a win like that. So, I feel 100 percent."
He also played four innings at third base before coming out for Mark Sobolewski in the bottom of the fifth inning. But Plouffe didn't get a chance to test out his calf, as no one hit the ball to third during his four innings in the field.
Plouffe, though, said his calf feels just fine after giving it a few extra days of rest.
"I feel good," Plouffe said. "Everything was full-go, just like we expected. Two extra days isn't such a big deal anymore to me now that I'm back. I'm happy we waited."