Notes: Young displays versatility
Twins outfielder shows range at plate not limited to power
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There has been only a week of Spring Training games, but outfielder Delmon Young has already made quite an impression on his new team.Labeled as the offensive replacement for the departed Torii Hunter, Young has not disappointed at the plate early in spring. Following a 3-for-3 day against the Orioles on Thursday, Young is now hitting .615 (8-for-13) with a home run and four RBIs in five Grapefruit League games. It hasn't just been the number of hits that's caught the attention of the coaching staff, but the variety of ways that Young has been delivering them. One day after belting his first home run of the spring against the Yankees, Young showcased that his range as a hitter isn't limited to just power. Of Young's three hits on Thursday, two were shots the other way into right field and one was an infield single down the third-base line. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that the club had seen glimpses of this when facing Young while he was with the Rays last season. Gardenhire also said that infielder Brendan Harris, who was acquired along with Young in a trade with Tampa Bay, told the coaching staff that they might be surprised at the outfielder's versatility at the plate. "Harris told us that he's not afraid to give himself up -- shoot the ball that way and use the whole field," Gardenhire said. "Harris said Delmon's very unselfish in the game, and as the game goes along, if it calls for shooting the ball over that way, he'll do it. He's a young hitter and wants to drive the ball, but he's not afraid to use the field." One thing that Gardenhire highlighted from Thursday's performance was Young's hit to right field off Orioles right-hander Daniel Cabrera in the first inning. Cabrera has been notorious for shutting down the Twins, but the skipper liked the way that Young didn't try to do too much with one of Cabrera's cutters. "When he's throwing that cutter down and away, if you try to pull it, you get a roll over," Gardenhire said of Cabrera. "But Delmon stayed right with it and banged it the other way. I'm hoping that some of our other guys see that. I think he uses the whole field pretty good. From what I've seen, we have a pretty good young hitter here." Hernandez struggles: Even after a successful first spring start for Livan Hernandez this past Sunday, the pitcher warned that he never seems to perform well during Spring Training.
Hernandez demonstrated some of those annual struggles on Thursday when he gave up six runs, five earned, on 10 hits over three innings. He threw close to 50 pitches over that span.The right-hander blamed the rough performance on an inability to locate his pitches. He said he was focusing on throwing sinkers outside, but could not consistently hit his spots. Gardenhire said that while poor results like Thursday's can sometimes raise red flags, in this instance the skipper is not too concerned. "If a young kid does that, you get worried," Gardenhire said. "If a veteran does that, you call it Spring Training." Liriano watch: Gardenhire said that the plan is to have Francisco Liriano throw between 40-50 pitches in his first spring start on Friday. While it will be Liriano's first game action of the spring, the club isn't worried about the left-hander being ready for the start of the regular season. Gardenhire said that he feels there is plenty of time to get Liriano's pitch count up to between 80-100 pitches before the club breaks camp on March 29. Taking a spill: Thursday's contest between the Twins and Orioles included a few humorous moments, including one from the team's newest comedian. On a hard hit single through the hole at shortstop by Orioles catcher Guillermo Quiroz in the third inning, third baseman Mike Lamb somehow tripped and fell on his behind with his back facing home plate. Lamb sat on the ground for a few minutes as he retied his shoelaces. And that's when Lamb showed off a bit of his humor. After getting back on his feet and returning to his spot near third base, he tipped his cap to the crowd in jest. "He was working on his decoys," Gardenhire said of the fall. "It was pretty funny actually. Considering the way things were going, it fit." Twins tidbits: Right-hander Matt Guerrier left camp following Monday's workout to tend to a family issue. Guerrier is expected to rejoin the team sometime on Friday. ... The Twins are expected to hold their first set of cuts this Sunday. Gardenhire said that he expects it to be a fairly significant first cut so the Twins can get to a more workable number of players. Up next: The Twins prepare for their only split squad of the spring on Friday. Liriano, who is coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, will make his spring debut in a start against the Red Sox at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers at 12:05 p.m. CT. Left-hander Glen Perkins will get the start in the second contest as the Twins head to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays in another 12:05 p.m. CT start.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.