Notes: Ponson sees progress in loss
Sinker shows life as he's dinged for four runs in two innings
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Sidney Ponson came to Spring Training this year knowing that to make the Twins roster, he must prove he deserves a starting spot in the club's rotation.But even a rough outing in his first Grapefruit League action Friday, when he gave up four runs on seven hits in just two innings against the Dodgers, hasn't left the pitcher feeling like he's behind in the race just yet. "Giving up four runs in two innings isn't proving yourself to nobody, but I'm pretty happy with the way I threw the ball," Ponson said following his start in Vero Beach. "And that's what counts." The Twins coaching staff was also pleased with what they saw out of Ponson despite the numbers he put up on the board. One of the reasons for the team not feeling overly troubled was most of Ponson's hits came on ground balls -- a sign Twins coaches took to show his sinker is in good form. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also said catcher Joe Mauer informed him many of Ponson's pitches were just missing the zone. The hope is with a bit more time and adjusting his location by just an inch or two, Ponson can improve those numbers. And even though the performance didn't match Ponson's two scoreless innings in his "B" game start Monday against the Red Sox, the club feels things coming along. "If he keeps throwing like that, we're going to be happy," Gardenhire said. "That was pretty good. We'll see if he can do it again, and maybe the results will get better and better as we go." Results are something that every pitcher wants, and Ponson is no different. With so many young, talented arms like Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey in camp, the Twins don't have to rely on the pitcher they signed to a non-guaranteed Minor League deal. And despite his lack of distress after the outing, Ponson is well aware the Twins can go in other directions if he's not producing. p /> "I mean, I know the situation I come into," Ponson said. "It's not a secret. It's not like they said, 'The job is yours.' I know I have to work for it. If I don't do the job, they're not going to take me. That's what it comes down to." Between the lines: Numbers are often very telling for a pitcher, but a bad line doesn't always mean a performance was as rocky as it appeared. Take Carlos Silva's outing Friday when he went four innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on eight hits while striking out one. Most of the damage done in Silva's outing came in his first inning when the Dodgers delivered bloop single after bloop single and put the pitcher on the hook for three early runs. Those were the only earned runs Silva gave up on the day, and he settled in to record six straight outs to finish his outing.
"All we've been looking for is that sinker to start, and you could see the last two innings when he started breaking bats and snapping them in half that his ball was really moving," Gardenhire said. "We saw some good things there."Silva's numbers Friday certainly looked worse than in his previous start when he threw three scoreless innings, but Silva echoed Gardenhire's feelings when he said his stuff felt much better this time around. "The best game I had thrown in a long time was today," Silva said. "My sinker was good today. I was a lot more comfortable with my pitches -- especially with my changeup. " Injury update: Outfielder Lew Ford, recovering from a torn meniscus in right knee, has suffered a setback in his rehabilitation. Just days after the club announced surgery likely wasn't in the outfielder's future, Ford had to shut down a running session when he felt something again in his knee. Gardenhire said he didn't know what the next step would be for Ford but that he would talk more with doctors once the club returned to Fort Myers. Home run bonanza: Infielder Luis Rodriguez isn't known for his power ability with the bat, but he certainly didn't show that Friday. Rodriguez hit as many home runs in the Twins' 8-7 loss as he did all last season, belting two long shots. The infielder's first dinger came in the second inning off Randy Wolf, and his other, a two-run blast, came in the sixth off lefty Scott Elbert. It was a day full of long balls for the Twins as Torii Hunter and Rondell White each delivered homers off Elbert in the sixth as well. Twins tidbits: Despite Silva being inked on paper as the starter for Friday's game, it was Ponson who took to the mound first. Gardenhire said the change was a result of the club feeling like Ponson was a tad anxious to get on the mound and Silva being willing to change. ... First baseman Garrett Jones is 2-for-23 (.087) so far this spring. ... Hunter's .417 average (5-for-12) leads the team's everyday starters. Quotable: "It was hot. With no roof on the dugout, it was smoking in there. Maybe that's what we need -- to take the roof off our dugout so guys can get hot and swing." -- Gardenhire, on the Twins' offensive outburst as they delivered seven runs on 11 hits, including four homers, in Friday's loss Coming up: The Twins will host the Devil Rays at Hammond Stadium on Saturday in a 12:05 p.m. CT contest. Right-hander Ramon Ortiz is scheduled to get the start as he faces Tampa Bay's right-hander Brian Stokes.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.