FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Donaldson announced his presence loudly.
The Twins third baseman made his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against Tampa Bay, going 1 for 2 during his appearance. He grounded out in his first at-bat, though he smoked the ball at 106.9 miles per hour toward short. The next time up, Donaldson hammered a home run out to center. The ball traveled an estimated 417 feet and was struck at 110.2 mph.
Thanks in part to Donaldson’s three-run home run, the Twins beat the Rays 8-4 at Hammond Stadium.
“JD looks real good. That ball he hit out to center field with the wind basically blowing in was a pretty impressive swing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s a swing we’ve seen a lot of throughout the years from him.”
And one they hope to see a lot more of in the years to come. In order to do that, the Twins and Donaldson have been crafting a plan to keep the 35-year-old healthy and on the field, hence the late spring debut.
Donaldson has dealt with calf issues throughout his career and was sidelined for a good chunk of the year — playoffs included — in 2020. The Twins have a schedule laid out for him that they’ve been sticking to and have been continually seeking feedback from Donaldson.
That schedule is about to normalize as the season draws nearer. Baldelli said he thinks Donaldson will be out again right after Monday’s scheduled off day.
“He’s going to be out there on a regular pattern, most likely playing every other day for a period of time,” Baldelli said. “That’s the goal. I mean, obviously, day to day, we can make adjustments. But he’ll be out there more in line with an every-other-day pattern.”
If Lewis Thorpe was happy with his first start this spring — and he was — he has to be ecstatic about his second outing.
Thorpe threw a pair of scoreless innings in his first start. In his second, it took him just 13 pitches to strike out the side in his one inning of work.
Thorpe attacked the strike zone, throwing nine of his 13 pitches for strikes and getting five whiffs. His fastball touched 93.7 mph against the last batter he faced, last year’s postseason hero, Randy Arozarena.
“(I) took the confidence from that first outing and just pounded my zone, trusted my stuff and it went well. I got the swings and misses that I wanted to,” Thorpe said. “The off-speed was down in the zone and the fastball was up.”
Because of Saturday’s rainout, the Twins needed to get more pitchers in Sunday’s game. After his one inning, Thorpe headed to the bullpen and got in another 20 pitches or so, bringing the same intensity he would bring to a game, he said.
Off day off
The Twins have their first off day of the spring, and Baldelli is hoping it’s just that — a day off — for a majority of his players.
“We encourage all of our people to enjoy their time because we don’t get a ton of it from the beginning of camp until really, the end of the season,” Baldelli said. “Any time that we get is kind of precious.”
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who arrived in camp Sunday after being held up in Curacao with visa issues, will be put through a quick workout with some staff members, Baldelli said, ensuring that his second day cleared to participate isn’t spent at home.
Starter Kenta Maeda is also scheduled to get some work in because he’s supposed to start on Tuesday, Baldelli said.
He’d prefer everybody else stays away.
“I hope the place besides that is locked down,” Baldelli said.
Maeda, Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey are among those scheduled to take the mound in Tuesday’s home game against the Orioles. … Outfielder Keon Broxton hit a three-run home run Sunday that traveled an estimated 419 feet and was struck at 110.1 mph off the bat, per Statcast.