As lone lefty for No. 5 spot, Milone impressing

As lone lefty for No. 5 spot, Milone impressing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Tommy Milone continued his impressive start to Spring Training, as the left-hander tossed three scoreless innings in the Twins' 5-2 loss against the Rays on Wednesday.

Milone, who is competing for the fifth spot in the Minnesota rotation, gave up just two hits and struck out three. He's now thrown five scoreless innings in two starts this spring, scattering three hits with no walks.

"Any time whether you feel good or not and you throw up zeros, it's a good day," Milone said. "I felt good. Throwing the fastball where I wanted to, especially in, was important. It was good to face a lineup with a lot of lefties."

Twins manager Paul Molitor came away impressed by Milone's outing, and the first-year skipper also noted that Milone did a good job of controlling the running game. One of the biggest emphases for Molitor this spring has been limiting opposing basestealers after the Twins struggled with it last year.

"I thought it was another good day," Molitor said. "He's using his fastball plenty for a guy throwing it 86-87 [mph]. His deception is good enough, and his command of his offspeed pitches so far in the first couple outings has been effective. He's jamming right-handers and getting them with changeups. So it was a good day, and he did a really nice job with baserunners, too."

Milone is the lone lefty competing for the final spot in the rotation, as he's going up against right-handers Mike Pelfrey, Trevor May, Alex Meyer and Tim Stauffer. Molitor hinted it could work in Milone's favor because the lefty gives the staff a change of pace, considering the rotation is currently composed of four right-handers.

"We've talked about that some, because when you can give teams different looks, it can be a good thing," Molitor said. "Throwing from the left side, he probably could be that differentiator for us. So I'm not going to say, 'Slam dunk, 80 percent, he's going to get the best shot.' But we are going to have to consider that for sure."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.