FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Francisco Cervelli homered twice off Kyle Gibson on Friday, leading a Pittsburgh Pirates split squad to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Three-time AL batting champion Joe Mauer went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. He is batting .158 in 19 spring at-bats.
”His at-bats are OK,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ”He’s not getting a lot of results right now, but I think he’s seeing the ball fine so I’m not too concerned about that.”
Cervelli, who has 10 career homers in parts of seven big league seasons, doubled in his only regular-season at-bat against Gibson.
”So he’s got my number right now,” Gibson said with a smile. ”I’ll change that this year. That’s all right.”
The Twins visit Pittsburgh for a pair of interleague games on May 19-20.
Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar got his team-leading 10th RBI with a fourth-inning single off Cole.
Shane Robinson also drove in a run for the Twins with a double.
Before the game, the Twins optioned highly rated prospect Alex Meyer to Triple-A Rochester. Meyer, a hard-throwing right-hander, issued seven walks in 5 2-3 innings this spring.
”He needs polish,” Molitor said. ”He’s a high prospect for a reason. He’s a gifted young man. My impression is he puts a lot of pressure on himself. I feel like, when he goes out there, he’s always got the weight of the world on him right now.”
Pirates: Cole scattered four hits, walked none and struck out three in five strong innings. He also included several changeups in his 74-pitch outing.
”I threw some good ones and quite a few bad ones,” Cole said. ”The spin on the breaking ball was good. I got that down today. The next step with the breaking ball is starting to locate it better.”
Twins: Gibson, slotted as the Twins’ No. 4 starter, walked three, including one to Cole with the bases loaded in the third. Gibson was pulled after 73 pitches with two outs in the fifth inning. He said he was pleased with his first-strike rate (18 of 23 batters).
Pirates: CF Andrew McCutchen, out with lower-body discomfort, stayed back in Bradenton and took batting practice on the field for the first time since his issue was revealed. … Outfielder Jose Tabata (left ankle) also took batting practice.
Twins: Closer Glen Perkins came through Thursday’s Triple-A outing without any issues. He is slated to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday in a split-squad home game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano will start at home on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.
Twins: LHP Tommy Milone will start at home against Baltimore on Saturday. RHP Trevor May will start Saturday’s split-squad game at Tampa Bay. Milone and May join veteran RHP Mike Pelfrey as the remaining candidates in the race for the final rotation spot.