FORT MYERS (AP) - The Twins needed more offense from the backup catcher position and a couple of utility players.
Ryan Doumit is providing help in both areas this spring training.
The free-agent signee added to his strong start for his new team by getting two hits, including a home run, Saturday in a 15-3 win against his former club, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
``I feel good,' Doumit said. ``I want to save something for the season, but right now, I'm right where I want to be.'
Doumit's day was only part of a horrible outing for Pirates starter Kevin Correia. He gave up 10 runs and 12 hits in only 2 1-3 innings, more than doubling his run total through his first 14 innings of work this spring.
``When that kind of stuff happens, you've got to get everything heading in that way,' Correia said. ``You've got to make some bad pitches and they've got to hit some good pitches. It's weird. You always seem to see those things now and then in spring training; I don't know why.'
Correia started strong last year before fading late to finish with a 12-11 record and 4.79 ERA. He wasn't too concerned with this bad outing, though.
``The only difference between this and a regular start is I don't really know those hitters,' Correia said. ``I haven't really pitched against the Twins, so we don't really go over scouting reports. The guy I did know, Ryan Doumit, my old teammate, hit a home run and another hit off me. I've been around long enough to not dwell over a bad spring training outing.'
Doumit has little to dwell over. The solid showing bumped his spring batting average to .325. After sending last year's backup catcher, Drew Butera, to Triple-A Rochester on Saturday for what general manager Terry Ryan said was a lack of offense, Doumit appears to be just what the Twins are looking for.
The Twins have also made full use of his versatility, starting him in the outfield Saturday. He has also played at first base and behind the plate this month. With uncertainty about how much Justin Morneau will play at first after spending much of spring training at designated hitter and a competition for the right fielder spot, that flexibility should serve Doumit well.
``He's a joy to have on a baseball team,' said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. ``He's game on. He's shown us that he can move around just anywhere that we put him, and he's shown that he's really one of those whatever-you-need kind of players. We really like that around here.'
Doumit is part of a Twins offense showing some signs of life. After a slow start to the spring, the Twins have scored seven or more runs in four of their last five spring training games after finishing second to last in runs in the American League last year.
Denard Span went 4 for 5 with a double and Morneau went 2-for-4 with a double. Catcher Joe Mauer hit a double and drove in four runs.
``Offense is contagious,' said Doumit, who hit .303 in an injury-shortened season last year. ``The last couple games, once guys start hitting, it seems to be contagious, and it's been a lot of fun. I think it's an indication of things that are yet to come.
Morneau has come on since making the switch to designated hitter. In 11 games since focusing on the DH spot he's hitting .255, but in the last seven he's 11 for 24 (.458). He's batting .226 overall.
NOTES: Gardenhire announced the rotation for the first week of regular-season games. Carl Pavano will start the season opener April 6 at Baltimore, followed by Francisco Liriano, Liam Hendriks and Nick Blackburn, who will start the home opener April 9 against the Angels. . General manager Terry Ryan said pitcher Scott Baker will start the season on the disabled list, retroactive to March 27. The right-hander, who has struggled with elbow tendinitis this spring, threw four innings of a minor league game Saturday, giving up four hits and one run. The Twins' other expected starter, Jason Marquis, has been out for several days to be with his daughter, who was injured in a bicycle accident. . Minnesota reassigned infielder Michael Hollimon to minor league camp. . The Twins placed pitcher Kyle Waldrop on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow.
The Associated Press News Service
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