PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - Kyle Farnsworth joked that he's had more graceful moments.
The Tampa Bay closer misplayed a slow roller to the right of the mound, chased it down after the ball glanced off his glove and then threw wildly to first base for an error that allowed a run to score during a 2-1, 10-inning spring training loss to the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
Not exactly the spring debut Farnsworth anticipated. But since the results don't count, it was easy to laugh off.
``That's what we work on during spring training - little comebackers like that,' Farnsworth said. ``It's embarrassing to miss that, but sometimes the slow ones like that are the worst ones because you have time to think about it.'
Farnsworth allowed two hits in the fifth inning, including the dribbler off Ben Revere's bat that was ruled an infield single. The run that scored on the reliever's throwing error was the only one the Twins managed until Luke Hughes homered off right-hander Albert Suarez with one out in the top of the 10th.
Meanwhile, starter James Shields took another step toward his opening day assignment for the Rays by working four scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed three hits, walked two and struck out two in his second spring appearance, building on the two perfect innings he tossed against the New York Yankees last week.
``I'm definitely progressing the way I want to progress right now. I'm kind of mixing my pitches up a little bit more as we go,' said Shields, a 16-game winner who finished third in last season's AL Cy Young Award balloting. ``It was a good outing. Four innings, pretty solid.'
Carl Pavano allowed one run and four hits in four innings for the Twins. Tyler Robertson worked one scoreless inning to get the victory, and Daryl Thompson walked two batters in the bottom of the 10th before working out of a jam to earn the save.
Hughes and Brian Dozier each had two hits for the Twins. Joe Mauer made the trip from Fort Myers to Port Charlotte and went 0 for 2 with a walk as Minnesota's designated hitter. Ryan Doumit started at catcher and threw out Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce attempting to steal second base in both the second and fourth innings.
Dozier had a first-inning triple off Shields that nearly cleared the center field fence for a home run. Hughes, who has been slowed in camp by a shoulder injury, homered to left to snap a 1-all tie.
``I think that's a big lift for him,' Twins manager Rod Gardenhire said of Hughes. ``He's been fighting through it. Because of the shoulder he's been set back a ways, so that's a big deal for him getting that homer.'
Tampa Bay made several roster moves Monday, optioning pitchers Alex Cobb, Alex Torres and Chris Archer to the minor leagues and reassigning infielder Juan Miranda, pitcher Ricky Orta and catchers Nevin Ashley and Mark Thomas to minor league camp.
Cobb was 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts as a rookie last year, when his season ended was cut short by season-ending surgery to remove a blood clot and blockage in the area of one of his right ribs. The right-hander reported to camp, hoping to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.
``It's not a total shock, but it's not exactly the time you want to be sent down,' said Cobb, who thought the move might come later in camp.
``I was a little bit surprised that it was this early. But after talking to them and (hearing) what their plans are, and their reasoning behind it, it makes more sense to go down there and get my innings in and get stretched out a little bit,' Cobb said. ``It's just a numbers game right now.'
All five starters are back from young, talented rotation that helped the Rays make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons last year. One of the spots, however, could be up for grabs with highly regarded rookie left-hander Matt Moore expected to make a push for a job on the opening day roster.
Moore, Cobb and Torres all are expected to make starts for Tampa Bay at some point this season.
``They're pretty certain that I'll be a big part of this year,' Cobb said. ``That's very reassuring.'
The Associated Press News Service
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