FORT MYERS — Brad Radke has done this a time or two.
Radke, entering his 12th and possibly final season with the Minnesota Twins, said he feels on target for the beginning of the regular season.
But this spring Radke is focusing some of his attention on a new weapon, a new weapon targeted at left-handed hitters — a variation of his fastball with additional movement.
“For sure,” Radke said. “I feel pretty good. By the time April rolls around, I should be ready to go.”
Radke took the loss Thursday in Boston’s 4-3 win at City of Palms Park. Radke allowed six hits and two runs while throwing 64 pitches in three innings.
The Red Sox scored on Manny Ramirez’s RBI groundout in the first and a two-out, run-scoring infield single by Kevin Youkilis in the third.
Trot Nixon had the most solid contact off Radke, a rocket to right in the first inning that hit off first baseman Terry Tiffee’s glove. It was originally ruled an error but was later changed to a double.
“I felt like I could go more,” Radke said. “I felt pretty good. The ball’s coming out of my hand real well. Three more starts and I’ll be good to go.”
MEANWHILE: The Twins’ other split squad blasted four home runs in a 12-5 win over Cleveland in Winter Haven. Ruben Sierra, Justin Morneau, Shawn Wooten and Doug Deeds all went deep for Minnesota. Darrell May was the winning pitcher.
WELCOME BACK: Johan Santana and Carlos Silva — two big parts of the Twins starting rotation — returned to camp Thursday after pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Three pitchers — Joe Nathan of the United States, Dennys Reyes of Mexico and Francisco Liriano of the Dominican Republic — remain with their WBC teams.
Even without some of their top-line pitchers, Minnesota’s staff has been among the sharpest in the AL this spring. The Twins lead the American League with a 3.89 ERA and have issued the second-fewest number of walks.
MOVING AROUND: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s still committed to getting Sierra some playing time at first base this spring. Sierra has never played at first, though he has played 1,338 games in the outfield during his 19-year career.
The added versatility could help get him more playing time on a roster already heavy on corner outfielders and has Rondell White written in at DH.
“We’re going to work on it, we’re getting there,” Gardenhire said Wednesday. “He’s been working at it and I want to get him over there.”
Gardenhire also said he’s reluctant to move White out of the DH slot and into the outfield in any situation short of an emergency.
“My goal is not use (White) out there very often, if any at all,” Gardenhire said. “I want him to be my DH and protect him that way, keep him healthy.”
SPRING TRAINING - 2007
- INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA: See our Spring Training Guide
- ON THE WEB: Go to our special Spring Training section
- PODCAST: 2006 Sawx pawdcast featuring Dana Oppedisano
- PODCAST: 2006 Twins podcast featuring Paul Pfiefer
- AUDIO: Spring training audio interviews
- PHOTO: Spring training photos
- VIRTUAL STADIUM:Red Sox-City of Palms park
- VIRTUAL STADIUM:Twins- Hammond Stadium
COMING UP: The Twins travel to Lakeland today to play the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. Scott Baker will face Detroit’s Mike Maroth. Minnesota returns to Hammond Stadium on Saturday to play the Devil Rays at 1:05 p.m. Kyle Lohse will pitch for the Twins against the Rays’ Scott Kazmir.
TWIN BILLS: The Twins are now 10-7 this spring. ... The team reassigned 2005 first-round pick Matt Garza to its minor league camp on Thursday. Garza allowed four hits and one earned run in 7Ð innings while striking out three. Garza was the Twins’ starting pitcher Wednesday against Pittsburgh. ... Thursday was Boston’s first win over the Twins in four tries this spring. ... The Twins had nine hits against the Red Sox, marking the first time in seven games they had not reached double figures in hits. ... Tiffee went 1-for-3, lowering his batting average to .406. Shortstop Jason Bartlett went 1-for-2, upping his average to .435. ... Right hander Jesse Crain struck out three in two scoreless innings. ... Morneau went 3-for-4 with three RBIs against Cleveland. Luis Rodriguez was 3-for-3.