As Joe Christensen puts it:
"The Twins' Opening Day starter had both dugouts rolling after some fancy footwork in his final spring tuneup."
That's not nearly enough credit due Livan Hernandez for what he and first baseman Justin Morneau accomplished earlier today.
Former Twin Jason Bartlett, now with the Tampa Bay Rays, described the play as "awesome."
The Twins were playing the Rays in the third inning at Hammond Stadium. There were no outs, and speedster Elliot Johnson was up to bat. Noticing pitcher Hernandez's hefty size, 6'2'' and 245 pounds, he tried a bunt down the first base line.
While Hernandez lumbered toward the ball, Johnson took off toward the base. When Hernandez finally reached the ball, Johnson was a good three strides ahead of him.
The logical thing would be to reach down, pick the ball up, and attempt to throw out Johnson the classical way. Twin's manager Ron Gardenhire didn't think that would've worked out too well:
"He probably would have ended up on his face if he did."
Instead, Hernandez reached out with his foot and kicked the ball knee high for about ten feet...right into Justin Morneau's outstretched glove. One away.
After a second of silence, Tampa Bay first base coach George Hendrick started clapping, soon followed by the entire crowd attending the Spring Training game - around 7,968.
Players in the Ray's dugout started removing their hats and bowing to the Twin's pitcher. Hernandez just shrugged it off:
"You're going to see a lot of plays this year. Maybe not like that one, but ... different...Maybe one day I miss it, and people get mad."
Former Twins Jason Bartlett couldn't hold in his admiration for both of the players:
"Any other first baseman it probably would have hit off their knee or something. But Morneau had that hockey instinct. Everybody in our dugout was taking their hat off and just bowing to [Hernandez]. To kick it and to hit it in the air right at Morneau's glove -- it's impossible, but he did it."