Twins have a blast at practice

Published 8:35 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

(MCT) — Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas engaged in a batting practice shootout Wednesday morning at Hammond Stadium.

The young Twins prospects took turns putting dents in the brand-new batter’s eye beyond the center-field wall, and Sano also christened the grassy berm beyond the wall in left.

But the most memorable connection came off the bat of Vargas, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound switch hitter. Swinging from the left side, he delivered a rocket blast that struck the top of the light tower in right-center field.

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That object’s supersonic flight pattern took it directly over Twins pitchers Casey Fien and Logan Darnell, who were shagging flies, and bounced back 30 feet into the field of play.

“Well, I guess off the bat it was pretty impressive,” Darnell said.

“It hit the top of the lights and came back down. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen a ball hit that far in a long time. It hit the very top light.”

Did it do damage?

“There’s a cover on it, so no,” Darnell said. “He probably almost cleared it, but man, that was pretty impressive. I’m not going to lie.”

This was no one-time phenomenon. Sano and Vargas have been in the same hitting group since full-squad workouts opened Saturday.

On Tuesday, back on Field 3, Vargas swung so mightily that he missed the ball entirely in BP. Sano, standing outside the cage, laughed uproariously.

Without speaking a word, Vargas destroyed the next pitch, pulling it over the wall in left, nearly knocking over a palm tree.

“Right back at ya!” Double-A New Britain manager Jeff Smith barked.

It was during the round that Vargas, flipping over to the left side, bombed one over a pair of fences: the one ringing Field 3 and the one on Field 5. That caused a stir on the Gardy Field, manager Ron Gardenhire’s preferred viewing area.

“Kennys and Sano, they take good hacks during BP,” Darnell said. “(Vargas) is hitting them a long way right now.”

How about Vargas’ personality?

“Good guy, always has a smile, always having fun,” Darnell said. “That’s just kind of his personality, I guess: have fun and hit homers.”


Guerrier nearly ready

Reliever Matt Guerrier threw all his pitches in Monday’s bullpen session and plans to throw at least one more bullpen, on Thursday, before facing hitters for the first time this spring.

It’s possible Guerrier will throw another bullpen Saturday and face hitters next Tuesday and Thursday.

March 11 at Tampa Bay, up the road in Port Charlotte, has been circled as Guerrier’s likely spring debut. That was deemed “maybe more realistic” than March 9, which is a home game against the Phillies.

The main thing, of course, is that Guerrier’s postsurgery throwing arm is holding up.

“I’m feeling good,” he said.



Left-hander Edgar Ibarra is completely over the hepatitis B he contracted last month and threw his first bullpen of the spring. … Right-hander Mike Pelfrey will face Anthony Ranaudo, one of Boston’s top prospects, in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said no decisions have been made on the weekend starters. … Gardenhire is still hoping to stage Thursday’s 9 a.m. (CST) intrasquad game in Hammond Stadium, but the construction project could bump the game to a back field. Bench coach Terry Steinbach will manage one side, infield coach Paul Molitor the other. … Right-handers Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia will start the exhibition and are scheduled to work two innings apiece. Kyle Gibson and Vance Worley also will work two innings apiece in a game scheduled to last eight innings. … Josmil Pinto (back stiffness) will not play Thursday. Darin Mastroianni isn’t on the play list either, but it’s not because of any injury concerns. Among those joining him on the back fields during the instrasquad game: the starting infield (Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Trevor Plouffe) and the projected starting outfield of Josh Willingham, Alex Presley and Oswaldo Arcia.