BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Joe Mauer and Delmon Young both missed some time in spring training. They haven’t missed a beat since.

Mauer had two hits and an RBI and Young also rapped out a pair of singles to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Monday.

Mauer, who had knee surgery in the offseason, started at catcher for the second time this spring and played six innings. He singled twice and drew a walk, finishing 2 for 3.

Young, who has recovered from a toe injury, singled in his first two at-bats against left-hander Paul Maholm.

“I told the guys in our dugout, ‘Why do you guys come to spring training so early and swing so much? Just do what Joe and Delmon are doing, skip 10 or 12 games and just start hitting,”‘ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They’re right on line. Their swings look great.”

Left-hander Brian Duensing pitched five innings for Minnesota, allowing an unearned run and three hits. He walked one and struck out two.

“The ball came out of his hand really good,” Gardenhire said. “He had all of his pitches working. His location was outstanding. He was moving the ball in and out, using both sides of the plate. He had a great little breaking ball that he could slip over any time he wanted to.”

Duensing struggled with mechanics in his previous start, when he yielded two runs and five hits in four innings against the New York Mets.

“I worked on some stuff the past few days, keeping my shoulder square to the plate,” Duensing said. “The ball came out a lot better. I felt like I had balance with my finish and followthrough. That’s been my biggest problem this spring, but today it was really good.”

Maholm worked six innings, his longest outing this spring. The left-hander gave up two runs and six hits, walked two and struck out five.

“A lot of baserunners,” Maholm said. “The Twins are an organization that likes to run the pitch count up on guys. They have great at-bats.”

In the fifth, the Twins loaded the bases with none out. But Maholm got Young to ground into a double play and worked out of the jam allowing just one run.

“Exactly what I was looking for,” Maholm said. “I threw in a good bit today and everything was working. They hit a couple changeups that were decent, not horrible. They only had one extra-base hit, so they weren’t teeing off on me.”

Jason Jaramillo had an RBI single for the Pirates. Jaramillo, batting .500 this spring, is competing for the backup catcher’s job.

NOTES: Twins closer Joe Nathan pitched two innings in a minor league game. … Twins OF Michael Cuddyer (foot) and 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) also played in a minor league game. Both are expected to play Wednesday night against Baltimore. … Pirates GM Neal Huntington said LHP Scott Olsen no longer is in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation and likely will begin the season on the disabled list. Olsen missed the first month of spring training due to a strained left hamstring and has been ineffective in two relief outings. … The Pirates released INF Garrett Atkins and reassigned LHP Justin Thomas and RHP Fernando Nieve to minor league camp. … Pirates LHP Joe Beimel took a cortisone shot in his elbow and hopes to resume throwing by the middle of the week.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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