Efficient Hughes cruising early this spring

Twins righty has tossed five scoreless innings in two starts

Efficient Hughes cruising early this spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Phil Hughes has been so efficient in his first two Spring Training starts, he hasn't had much to analyze.

Hughes threw 20 pitches in two innings in his first outing and followed that up by needing 26 pitches to get through three scoreless frames in a 3-0 win over the Orioles on Monday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. All 10 batters Hughes faced put the ball in the play, but the lone hit came on a grounder to right field from Adam Jones in the first.

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"I threw some changeups and some curveballs and left some cutters over the plate, but they didn't hurt me too bad," said Hughes, who threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen after his outing. "I was able to move my fastball around. But it's hard to assess too much about this outing when it goes too quick."

One thing Hughes is working on is trying to elevate his fastball out of the zone to get hitters to chase. Hughes gave up 29 homers in 27 outings last year, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said that's because he throws too many strikes.

"We know he throws strikes, but I thought his location in the zone was pretty good," Molitor said. "He's working on changing eye levels. He threw a couple fastballs intentionally up above the swing zone. He mixed in his curveball. He seems like he's really on a mission this year after a year that didn't really go his way. But he was efficient."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Trevor May piggybacked Hughes and is continuing to be stretched out as a starter this spring as he competes for the final spot in the rotation. He tossed 2 1/3 scoreless frames, striking out the side in his first inning, but reached his 45-pitch limit in his third inning after walking Manny Machado with one out.

"I felt good," May said. "The ball was coming out well. There was just a lot of guys who battled me. I was on an allowance of about 12 pitches that [last] inning and Manny had like an eight-pitch at-bat so I figured I was done."

• Molitor was impressed by left-hander Randy Rosario, who came on in relief of May in the sixth, and promptly retired Jones and Chris Davis to get out of the inning. Rosario, 21, pitched at Class A Cedar Rapids last year, but is considered a rising pitching prospect.

"He had a big smile on his face coming off the mound and I told him, 'You just got two guys worth $300 million,'" Molitor said with a laugh. "For as young a man as he is, that was a pretty nice day for him."

Oswaldo Arcia, who is out of Minor League options and competing for spot on the roster, showed patience at the plate, drawing three walks. In 219 career regular season games, Arcia has walked three times in a game just once.

• Catcher Stuart Turner has been bothered by a stiff lower back and is being held out of action for precautionary reasons. It's only an issue when he swings the bat, and the Twins are hopeful he'll return to action in a few days.

• The Twins announced Target Field will host its first-ever soccer match, as Minnesota United FC is set to play Mexico's Club Leon on June 25. Tickets go on sale on March 24.

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