Facing tough lineup, Santana dominates

Facing tough lineup, Santana dominates

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After laboring in his first outing of the spring, Ervin Santana made quick work of the Red Sox on Thursday, throwing three perfect innings on 26 pitches in an 8-2 win at JetBlue Park.

The 26 pitches were 15 fewer than he threw in the second inning alone in his Grapefruit League debut against the Orioles on Saturday. Santana, who struck out three, was so efficient that he had to throw an extra 20 pitches in the bullpen after his outing.

"That's what happens when you throw strikes," Santana said. "I had very good command today -- my fastball location, my slider, my changeup. It was good."

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Twins manager Paul Molitor was pleased with what he saw from his likely Opening Day starter, especially considering Santana was facing the Red Sox's 'A' lineup that featured players such as Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.

"Ervin looked very sharp," Molitor said. "He got some funny swings, which is always a good sign, and against some pretty good hitters. He had a nice mix with all his pitches and reared back when he had to. It was efficient and it was clean. I don't think he sweated much."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Trevor Plouffe is flying back home to Southern California late Thursday and is expected to miss two games to attend the funeral of his high school baseball coach, Scott Muckey, who coached for 28 years at Crespi High School in Encino, Calif.

Alex Meyer made his first appearance since Friday and gave up two runs while recording two outs. The right-hander struck out two, including the last batter he faced, but walked one and threw a wild pitch.

"I thought the ball was coming out of his hand a little better than the first time," Molitor said. "He had a little session yesterday, because we're trying to get him to take advantage of his frame and drive with that back side a little bit."

• Non-roster invitee Carlos Quentin had another strong showing at the plate despite not playing in 2015, going 2-for-3 with a homer and a double. Quentin, who is competing for a spot on the bench, is hitting .333 this spring.

"He's done a nice job with the at-bats he's been given," Molitor said. "It's obvious to me he knows how to approach an at-bat."

• Former Twins closer Rick Aguilera joined the team on Thursday as a guest instructor and will work with pitchers for the next 10 days. It's the first time Aguilera has served in this role.

"He had a career that was very extensive and professional," Molitor said. "He has the resume to back up the knowledge he can extend to people. He has experience as a starter and a closer. Some of the guys working with [bullpen coach] Eddie [Guardado] on a split-finger pitch can hear it from a different voice and a right-hander."

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.