Blue Jays 7, Twins 4

Toronto’s speedy outfielder Rajai Davis showed he has some

power, too.

Davis went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs for the Blue

Jays in a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Davis stole 50 bases – second-most in

the AL – for the Oakland Athletics last season before coming to the

Blue Jays in a November trade for a pair of minor leaguers. Davis

doesn’t have a steal yet this spring, but he has two homers. He’s

hitting .292 with two walks and four RBIs in 23 at-bats in

exhibition games.

”I just think I’ve been able to be more consistent,” Davis

said.

Inconsistency was a problem for him last season. He endured a

2-for-31 midsummer slump and found himself bumped from the leadoff

spot for much of July and August before finishing September

strong.

Davis batted first on Thursday, but Blue Jays manager John

Farrell has yet to decide where Davis will be on opening day.

”He’s a guy we feel like when we acquired him. He’s a

premium-type of outfielder,” Farrell said. ”In Oakland, he was

certainly putting some things together. We love his speed. We love

his athleticism. The past four or five days, he has really put

together some exciting at-bats.”

Farrell added: ”He allows us to do a number of things out

there, not just with his ability to steal a base and swing a bat

but with his defense, too. His bat is much more consistent earlier

in camp. He’s a multidimensional guy. He can be an exciting

player.”

Twins starter Nick Blackburn, picked for the rotation last week

by manager Ron Gardenhire, gave up two home runs, to Davis and

Brett Lawrie. The right-hander allowed five runs, three earned, and

seven hits in three innings. He struck out one and walked none.

”I threw a couple of good changeups and curveballs later,”

Blackburn said. ”I’m trying to work on getting my sinker over for

strikes. It obviously wasn’t fun. I wasn’t locating my pitches, but

they were also hitting the pitches were there.”

Twins relief pitcher Joe Nathan, continuing his comeback from

elbow surgery last March, pitched a hitless fifth inning. He struck

out one and walked one and has not given up a run this spring in

four appearances.

”I felt great, but as far as pitches go, it wasn’t one of my

better ones,” Nathan said. ”Now I’m trying to get my slider a

little better and get that to where it needs to be. So I think

today I was maybe trying a little too hard. Everything’s been

pretty good. I feel like I can get back out there and throw

again.”

Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch, vying for a spot in the

rotation, struck out one, walked two and gave up two runs off three

hits in 3 2-3 innings.

”He was maybe wild in the zone,” Farrell said.

”Unfortunately, we didn’t turn a double play. He continues to

maintain his stuff. We had him at 65 pitches, and we’re going to

continue to advance that number.”

NOTES: The game started an hour late because of rain. Because of

the soggy field conditions, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire scratched

LF Delmon Young, 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka and DH Jim Thome from the

lineup. Young is expected to play on Friday for the first time this

spring, due to a turf toe injury. Nishioka has a sore leg muscle.

… Twins 1B Justin Morneau is also on track to play in his first

Grapefruit League game on Friday; a concussion ended his season

last July 7. ”I’m sure he’s excited to get back out there,”

Gardenhire said. ”He’ll probably be a little nervous. It’s just

another ballgame for most of us, but for him it’s a little bit

different.”