FORT MYERS — The Minnesota Twins got their first up-close look at the front end of their starting rotation on Thursday night.
It will also probably be the last one for a while.
Staff ace Johan Santana and No. 3 starter Carlos Silva will break Twins camp today for Clearwater, training home for the Venezuelan team in the World Baseball Classic.
Santana and Silva combined for four scoreless innings, with Santana earning the win over the visiting Boston Red Sox in Minnesota’s 6-3 win in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.
“I threw some changeups, I threw some sliders,” Santana said. “The good things about them was they were down. Even though they hit the ground, that’s what you want to see. You want to see your changeup going down and locate your fastball.”
Boston center fielder Coco Crisp, who finished 3-for-3 in his first Red Sox outing, led off the game with a single, but that was the only hit Santana surrendered. The 2004 AL Cy Young Award winner did walk two, but was pleased with the 35-pitch outing.
“I was happy with the way I was doing things tonight, even though I got two walks,” Santana said. “It’s part of the game. As long as you feel like your pitches are there, I’m fine with that.”
Silva allowed three hits, but to no one’s surprise didn’t walk a batter. Last season Silva walked just nine in 188-1/3 innings.
The pair will drive to Clearwater today and begin preparing for Venezuela’s WBC opener Tuesday against the Dominican Republic, another early tournament favorite.
“That’s what people want to see,” Santana said, “two of the best teams going after each other, so we’ll see how it goes. Whoever plays the game the right way is going to win.”
Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who homered in his first at-bat of the spring Thursday night off Jonathan Papelbon, said he’s concerned about Santana — and all the other players involved in the tournament — reaching back for too much too soon.
“I hope (Santana) doesn’t try to do too much,” Hunter said. “When you’re a competitor and you’re an athlete, when you get out on the field, you’re trying to do the best you can. You’re going to play as hard as you can, you’re going to run as hard as you can. That’s what I’m scared of, and not just for our players with the Twins.”
Santana said he’s been working out throughout the winter, and is guarded against doing “anything stupid.”
“I know what I’m doing, that’s for sure,” Santana said. “I know what I am, and we’ll see how it goes. You might have to take a little extra because you’ll be in a game situation where you have to win. I’m pretty sure most of the players are going to be the same way. They don’t want to overdo things and hurt themselves.”
- INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA: See our 2006 Spring Training Guide
- ON THE WEB: Go to our special Spring Training section
- PODCAST: Paul Pfiefer and Oppedisano recap Thursday's opening night of spring training
- AUDIO: Opening Night audio interviews
Silva said the workloads between normal spring training and the WBC will be similar, especially for a pitcher that can drop in a sinker right away.
But that doesn’t mean players will forget about their responsibilities to their teams.
“This is important, to represent our country, but we have to be ready for the start of the season,” Silva said. “We have to look at it like this: we have to ready. These guys, the Minnesota Twins, are the guys that pay us to play. We have to be ready for them and for ourselves.”
Not that there won’t be pressure for Venezuela to win. Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are overwhelming favorites to advance out of Pool D against Italy and Australia.
“Baseball in Venezuela goes beyond what the game is all about,” Santana said. “Fans go beyond the game. It’s passion. People love the game. They know the game.”