Today's spring training contest against the Yankees in Tampa started on a rather scary note. In his first at-bat, Denard Span laced a foul ball over the Twins dugout. In an astonishingly unlikely twist of unfortunate coincidence, the ball struck Span's own mother, who had taken the opportunity to see her son play in his hometown. Span sprinted into the stands to be with his mother as medical aide was summoned, but thankfully she was not seriously injured and the Twins' center fielder was able to return to the game, albeit it a little shaken.
The Twins' other split-squad game, played against the Rays back in Ft. Myers, also started out in a frightening -- though far less serious -- manner, as Scott Baker was absolutely pummeled in his final spring tune-up, coughing up eight runs on 12 hits in just 2 2/3 innings. Certainly not a great way for the Twins' Opening Day starter to cap off his spring training, but he had been stellar all month up this point so there's no reason to sound the alarms.
Baker's early deficit gave the Twins little chance of beating the Rays, which is just as well since the offense had a fairly quiet day. They scratched three runs across, but no player managed multiple hits. Alexi Casilla went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and also committed an error in the field. He's hitting .128 and has struck out 11 times in 47 at-bats, furthering my puzzlement that the Twins continue to show faith in him despite his consistent lack of production.
Fortunately, the Twins did manage to dispatch the Yankees at home -- a good feeling even in a meaningless exhibition match. Brian Duensing, making his second start of the spring, tossed five innings of one-run ball against a New York lineup that featured Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and a few other starters. The strong showing should help him keep his name in Ron Gardenhire's mind should Francisco Liriano falter early on. Meanwhile, Brendan Harris went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .375, though nothing he can do at this point will stop Nick Punto from trotting out to third base on Opening Day.