MINNEAPOLIS — It’s not often Minnesota’s pitchers make their way to the batting cage for early batting practice, but that’s what the Twins did Monday as they prepare for next week’s interleague series.
Minnesota travels to take on Atlanta beginning next Monday for a three-game series. Of course, that means the Twins’ pitchers will have to take their hacks in the batter’s box while they’re in a National League park.
This year’s Twins rotation has three new faces, all of whom have plenty of experience in the National League. Right-hander Kevin Correia spent 10 years in the NL with the Giants, Padres and Pirates before signing with Minnesota this past offseason. Mike Pelfrey pitched seven years for the New York Mets and Vance Worley was in Philadelphia for three seasons.
“Some of the National League guys have a little more savvy about hitting than some of our other guys,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You’ve got the bases to worry about, you’ve got all kinds of stuff — seeing they get on the bases. It’s just added stuff we need to do here to protect those guys. Hopefully they can help themselves win a game.”
Gardenhire said of the three NL pitchers the Twins acquired this offseason, Correia handles the bat the best. In 276 career at-bats, Correia has 32 hits (.116 average), including five doubles, and has driven in 12 runs. He also has 41 career sacrifice bunts, something Gardenhire would be happy with if his pitchers can do.
“Just put it in fair territory,” Gardenhire said. “As far as the hitting part of it goes, do the best you can. They don’t get through this very often.”
Hicks, Florimon return to the lineup: Outfielder Aaron Hicks and shortstop Pedro Florimon were both out of the Twins’ lineup the last few days with minor injuries. Hicks was slowed by an elbow injury that kept him out two games, while Florimon missed three games after he injured his hamstring on Thursday in Boston.
Hicks was in the lineup Monday batting eighth and playing center field, while Florimon was hitting one spot behind him.
“(Florimon) says he’s good to go, but he’s said that for three days here,” Gardenhire said. “I’m hoping he is good to go. I would hope that he’s letting us know the truth here. I know he wants to play, but to me that’s always worrisome when you have a hamstring and you get back out there. But he’s done everything they’ve asked.”
Gardenhire added that reliever Anthony Swarzak might not be available for Monday’s game after needing 38 pitches to get through two innings of relief on Sunday against Baltimore.
“He’s going to tell you he can pitch every day, I promise you that,” Gardenhire said. “No matter how many pitches he throws, he’ll tell me he can give me something, but we’ll back off him.”