By Joe Christensen
FORT MYERS — Some quick thoughts from Hammond Stadium:
(*) Kevin Youkilis worked the count full and fouled off a few pitches before hitting a two-run homer off Kevin Slowey, which broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Youkilis had several great at-bats like that last October. Jason Varitek followed with another home run, an opposite-field shot just over the left field wall.
(*) Boof Bonser was solid, allowing just one hit in his two innings.
(*) 2B Nick Punto made a terrific play in the first inning, racing behind the pitcher’s mound to field a high chopper from Dustin Pedroia and then throwing across his body to get the out at first base. Punto also had a good first at-bat against Hideki Okajima, fouling off several two-strike pitches before flying out to the left-field warning track.
(*) In his first at-bat in a Twins uniform, Delmon Young lined a single to center field against Dice-K Matsuzaka. One thing I’ve learned about Delmon is that he seems to have an encyclopedic memory about pitchers he’s faced.
Looked it up, and sure enough, he faced Dice-K several times last season, going 3-for-11 (.273). It was also striking how much the Red Sox infielders played Young to pull. They’ve got a long book on him, too.
(*) Carlos Gomez replaced Denard Span in center field to start the fifth inning and made an immediate impact. With Dustin Pedroia on second base, Joe Thurston singled to center field, and the stadium braced itself for a play at the plate. Well, it wasn’t even close. Gomez threw a no-hop strike to home plate and got Pedroia by several steps.
One batter later, Jason Pridie got a chance to show off his arm from right field, and it was nowhere near as impressive, as Thurston scored on a single.
(*) OK, Gomez can throw. We get it. But he just cost his team an extra base. Coco Crisp flared a single into short right-center field, and with George Kottaras well past third base, Gomez tried to be Superman and throw him out at home. It wasn’t close and Crisp trotted to second base. You can bet after the game, both of those plays will be on Gardy’s mind.
(*) Brian Buscher homered off Julian Tavarez, leading off the sixth inning, finally putting the Twins on the scoreboard. Counting the workouts and the Concordia game, Buscher has raised his stock more than any other player in Twins camp.
Fifteen innings into the Grapefruit League season, the Twins have their first extra-base hit.
(*) Gomez just hit a tailor-made double play ball to third base … and beat the relay throw to first base. You see lefthanded hitters get down the line that quickly, but it was eye-opening seeing a righthanded hitter do it.