Hughes a strike-thrower in first Twins action
New Minnesota righty K's four in two scoreless innings in intrasquad game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was a successful Twins debut for right-hander Phil Hughes, even if it was just an intrasquad game against his teammates on Thursday at Hammond Stadium.
Hughes, who joined the club on a three-year, $24 million deal this offseason, threw two scoreless innings with four strikeouts -- including whiffs of top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Hughes, whose fastball was at about 91-92 mph, was pleased with the results, as he threw 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes.
"I was just trying to attack the zone," Hughes said. "It was good to see some live hitters for the first time, so that was a positive. ... To be able to be in a game setting and see some hitters and some swings was good. Throwing strikes and staying within my mechanics was the biggest thing."
Hughes added that one of his biggest goals this spring is to work on his curveball, as he's ditching his slider in favor of a cutter and a curve. He said he threw about seven to eight curveballs during his outing and will continue to mix in more this spring.
Hughes threw his slider a career-high 23.8 percent of the time last year while not throwing a cutter and using his curveball 8.6 percent of the time, according to data at Fangraphs.com.
Hughes said he'd like to get back to his success from 2010, when he was an All-Star and threw his cutter 16.1 percent of the time and his curveball 20.6 percent of time. Hughes said he didn't even start throwing his slider until late in the 2012 season, and will also mix in a few more changeups this season.
"I threw a lot of sliders last year, but I'm hoping to get away from that," said Hughes, who missed nearly all of Spring Training last year with a bulging disk in his back. "I'm just going with a little bit firmer cutter and get my curveball back on track and where it needs to be. It has the potential to be good, but last year it wasn't, so I had to figure it out on the fly, and it wasn't a recipe for good results. Now that I have a full Spring Training, if I can get that curveball where it needs to be, I can get back doing those things I've had success with."
Correia among pitchers with solid early results
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Correia threw two scoreless innings in Thursday's intrasquad game at Hammond Stadium, and the Twins right-hander said he was happy with the results.
Correia didn't allow a hit, striking out one and walking one, while throwing 23 pitches (13 for strikes).
"It was good," Correia said. "I've thrown to some live hitters, but it isn't the same as being in a game situation and trying to make some pitches. It was a good process in the step of getting ready."
Correia, who was the club's most consistent starter last season with a 4.18 ERA in 31 starts, added that his arm feels good and he isn't bothered by a sore neck that caused him to miss a bullpen session earlier in the week.
"At this point, you're just looking for command and the feel of being back out there and building arm strength," Correia said. "So I'm right where I expected and right where I want to be right now."
Fellow right-handers Vance Worley and Kyle Gibson, who are both competing for a spot in the rotation, also fared well on Thursday.
Worley allowed a run that was aided by an infield single to first baseman Kennys Vargas, and he struck out one over two innings, while Gibson threw two scoreless frames. Gibson allowed two hits and struck out two.
Ryan relays positive message in talk with Gardy
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke Wednesday night to general manager Terry Ryan for the first time since Ryan underwent surgery to remove a cancerous lump from his neck on Feb. 11.
Gardenhire said that Ryan told him that he's doing well and is still recovering from the surgery at his home. Ryan, 60, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma earlier this month after a lump was found in a lymph node in his neck. He underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic and was released from the hospital three days later.
"He's feeling really good," Gardenhire said. "He just doesn't want to get too goosey about it. He's going to do what the doctors say and all those things, but he is doing really good."
Gardenhire added that Ryan has not begun radiation treatment, as they need his neck to heal from the surgery. He also said it's tough for Ryan not to be down in Fort Myers with the rest of his staff for Spring Training.
"It's driving him crazy, but he's staying in touch with people," Gardenhire said. "That's the first time I've talked to him. I told him, 'I'm not going to mess with you and I'll leave you alone.' I fired him a text, and then he called me back last night about 10 o'clock. He sounded good, doing well, feeling good. Just waiting for them to tell him what the next step is and go from there."
Gardenhire added he's still not sure if Ryan will make it down to camp this spring, as it's too early to tell.
"Who knows," Gardenhire said. "But like I told him last night, and he knows it, it's about getting well. You get well and go from there. Don't try to rush anything. You don't need to do anything silly. Just get well."
• Catcher Josmil Pinto was cleared to play in Thursday's intrasquad game after being limited by a sore back this week. Pinto caught with right-hander Anthony Swarzak on the mound, and he walked in his lone plate appearance.
• Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez fared well in Thursday's game, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer off right-hander Lester Oliveros. Second baseman James Beresford also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Shortstop Danny Santana and right fielder Max Kepler also had two hits each.
• Sano, who suffered a strained elbow this offseason, made several nice plays at third base and had no issues throwing during Thursday's game. He went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout while reaching on a throwing error by shortstop Danny Santana. Fellow top prospect Buxton went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.