FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Joe Nathan had his first poor outing of spring training.
He’s not worried.
Nathan, coming back from elbow-reconstruction surgery gave up six runs while getting just one out in the Minnesota Twins split squad’s 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
“Stuff like that happens,” said Nathan, who had “Tommy John” surgery on his right ulnar collateral ligament last March 26. “There are going to be some situations that I haven’t seen in a while.”
Nathan had not given up a run or even a hit in four previous one-inning spring training outings.
He said his right elbow still felt fine.
“It’s not a pretty inning by any means, but it’s a good thing that I came out of it and felt good. All in all, it was nice to just get out there and have a long inning.”
Twins starter Francisco Liriano, in line to start the second game of the regular season, struck out two, walked two and gave up four hits and no runs in three innings.
Phillies starter Michael Stutes, expected to begin the season in Triple-A, struck out one, walked one and did not give up a run or a hit, lowering his spring ERA to 1.00.
Nathan saved a career-best 47 games for the Twins in 2009. He said he knew his recent streak of hitless innings would end at some point, and he’s glad it did during the fifth inning of a spring training game.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would wait until the end of camp to name a closer with Matt Capps also in contention for that role.
Delwyn Young, starting in left field for the Phillies, hit a three-run homer off Nathan, who also gave up doubles to Phillies second baseman Michael Martinez, third baseman Josh Barfield and center fielder Wilson Valdez.
“It’s not going to be one, two, three perfect innings every time you go out there,” Nathan said. “So it’s nice to get one of these out of the way. Obviously you don’t go out there planning for this to happen. I left some pitches up there, and they hit them.”
Twins starter Francisco Liriano, in line to start the second game of the regular season, struck out two, walked two and gave up four hits and no runs in three innings of work.
Liriano twice escaped jams with two runners on base. In the first inning, he got John Mayberry Jr. to ground into a double play. In the second inning, Liriano struck out Freddy Galvis swinging.
“He made some pitches when he had to,” Gardenhire said. “He got some groundballs when he had to. It’s just a work in progress. You could see he’s not really comfortable right yet with everything. He’ll get a few more times out there. That’s all we’re looking for.”
Liriano did not pitch winter ball, which he said left him behind entering camp.
“I’m doing much better locationwise,” Liriano said. “I’m throwing right down the middle. I’m just trying to get better. I’m getting ready for the season. I know I’m a little bit behind, but I’ll get there.”
Liriano hopes to build on last season, when he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 191 2-3 innings.
“My changeup was going much better,” Liriano said. “I feel like I had much better control. Definitely the location of my fastball was better. It feels better than my last outing.”
Phillies starting pitcher Michael Stutes, expected to begin the season in Triple-A, struck out one, walked one and did not give up a run or a hit, lowering his spring ERA to 1.00.
“It’s something to face Jim Thome and Justin Morneau,” said Stutes, who held both of those batters hitless.
Morneau went 0 for 2 with a strikeout in his second Grapefruit League game after missing the second half of last season with post-concussion problems.
“It’s one of those things where 10 years ago, I’d watch on TV and wonder what I’d do if I could face that guy,” Stutes said of Thome. “Now I get to go out there and actually do it.”
NOTES: Twins catcher Joe Mauer caught a bullpen session for the second day in a row Sunday and said he felt fine after both sessions. He has yet to play in a spring training game after having surgery in the offseason on his left knee, but he said he remained confident in being ready for opening day. … Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer took batting practice with the team Sunday and appears closer to being game-ready after having a wart removed from his foot. … Gardenhire said 14 players will be sent to minor league camp on Monday but did not announce who they were.
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