Notes: Hunter escapes serious injury

Notes: Hunter escapes serious injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Torii Hunter made one thing clear after getting hit in the head with a pitch on Friday night in a game against the Reds -- there will be no more night games at Hammond Stadium for him.

Hunter blamed what he deemed poor lighting in the stadium for an inability to see the fastball from Reds right-hander Kyle Lohse that slammed square into the back of his helmet.

"You just can't see here at night," Hunter said. "It's always been that way. Trust me, that was my last night game in Fort Myers."

It was just before the incident that Hunter had been talking to Reds catcher Javy Valentin about how dark it was in the stadium and on the next pitch, he was hit.

Hunter was able to walk away from the incident with just a pinball-sized lump on the back left side of his head, but it certainly was a scary scenario.

The wayward pitch from Lohse came on a 1-2 count, and after getting struck, Hunter went immediately to the ground before rolling over on his back. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire ran out to the plate along with the team's medical staff and Lohse, who was very concerned about his former teammate, with whom he recently spent a night playing poker this spring.

"It's a sickening feeling," Lohse said. "I've never hit anybody in the head before. That's not something I want to do again."

Hunter lay on the ground for a few minutes while trainers attended to him. He was able to walk off the field on his own but appeared to be woozy. The good news for the Twins is that Hunter never lost consciousness and showed no symptoms of a concussion though he had one little scare.

"I lost the sound in my ear for a minute," Hunter said. "I couldn't hear anything out of my left ear."

Jason Tyner replaced Hunter in center field. Lohse also exited the game after the pitch due to a mild strain in his right hamstring and was replaced by right-hander Brian Meadows. Lohse came to the Twins clubhouse after the game to check on Hunter.

The Twins training staff will monitor Hunter overnight, making calls every two to three hours to make sure that he hasn't passed out and he remains day-to-day.

But for all the seriousness of the situation, Hunter even found time to joke with his skipper as Gardenhire pleaded with his center fielder to open his eyes as he lay on the ground.

"No, I'm in heaven," Hunter said.

Only one more night game remains at Hammond Stadium this season, and it occurs March 28 vs. the Red Sox. Gardenhire tried to downplay the lighting situation but said that people have complained about the lighting in previous seasons.

As for Hunter, he's focused already on playing again.

"I'll be fine," Hunter said. "I might even be in there on Sunday."

Injury overload: The Twins continue to be besieged with injury problems early this spring.

Luis Castillo left Friday's game with a stiff back. He was scheduled to play in Saturday's game at Sarasota against the Reds, but was scratched. Despite his constant reassurances to Gardenhire that he was feeling fine, Castillo told Tony Oliva that he was having problems breathing, so the team will give him at least a day's rest.

Rule 5 Draft pick Alejandro Machado has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game due to shoulder inflammation in his throwing arm. It's been a bit of a setback for the club which was hoping to get a good look at the switch-hitting, middle infielder/outfielder because he will likely be sent back to Washington if he does not make the 25-man roster.

"We've got a few guys beat up here early in spring, but we just have to pace ourselves," Gardenhire said.

Helping hand: After his first outing as a Twin, Ramon Ortiz had nothing but great things to say about his newest batterymate, catcher Joe Mauer.

"He's very good," Ortiz said. "I didn't shake any pitch. I told him, 'I stay with you 100 percent.' He laughed."

Contracts ahoy: The Twins agreed to terms on one-year contracts with 22 players, the team announced Friday. That list included pitchers Boof Bonser, Matt Garza, Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek and Glen Perkins. Also among those signed were shortstop Jason Bartlett and outfielders Jason Kubel and Tyner. All 40 players on the Twins roster have now been signed.

Twins tidbits: Former Twins Valentin and Juan Castro made a quick stop into the home clubhouse prior to Friday night's game. The two visited with Matthew LeCroy and Johan Santana and got quite a warm welcome from the entire clubhouse. ... Dennys Reyes is expected to be back in camp Saturday. Reyes had gone back to Mexico to witness the birth of his third child. ... The Twins have now made it possible to listen to their radio broadcasts while attending spring games at Hammond Stadium. The broadcasts will be available on 88.3 FM. Steve Gliner, general manager of the Fort Myers Miracle and Miracle broadcast director Sean Fox acquired the equipment to make the broadcast available to any portable FM radio in attendance.

Coming up: The Twins will get a chance at a rematch with the Reds on Saturday, when they travel to Sarasota for a 12:05 p.m. CT contest. Bonser will get his first Spring Training start of the year.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.