CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-hander Phil Hughes turned in his first subpar outing of the spring on Sunday against the Phillies, as he said he had trouble locating his curveball.
Hughes, who entered with a 1.04 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts, gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk, with three strikeouts as his ERA rose to 3.95. He said he threw just one good curveball all day, but he's still feeling good about his arm strength with just one more Spring Training start to go on Friday against the Red Sox.
"I feel good," Hughes said. "The arm strength and all that is one thing, and it's been great. But now it's about reeling everything else in -- the secondary stuff and the command, and fine-tuning things and getting ready to go. But strength-wise and pitch count has been good so far. I'll have one more here, and then it's go time."
Hughes has also been working on his mechanics with pitching coach Rick Anderson, as he's working to stay tall in his delivery. He said his mechanics were off on Sunday, but he's confident they'll be there once the regular season starts.
"I've just been trying to stay on my backside taller, because I have a tendency when I get over the rubber on my leg kick to just collapse and kind of drop and drive," Hughes said. "So I'm just trying to stay back. It puts me in a better position to throw the baseball in. I've been working on it the last few bullpens and in a Minor League game. I thought it was just off and on today."
Buxton's MRI reveals minor sprain in left wrist
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Top prospect Byron Buxton underwent an MRI exam on his left wrist on Saturday, and it showed only a minor sprain and no structural damage, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Sunday.
Buxton originally injured his wrist while making a diving play in a Minor League game with Double-A New Britain on March 16, and he hasn't played since then.
Antony said Buxton remains day to day, and he should return to action next week.
"I think they thought initially it would be two or three days, but they wanted to make sure they weren't missing anything, so they had the MRI," Antony said. "They expect him to back in there after going on some anti-inflammatories. They did not think it was anything to be concerned about."
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, was reassigned to Minor League camp in the first round of cuts on March 9. The center fielder hit .158 (3-for-19) with a double and a homer in seven Grapefruit League games.
Hicks working on defensive decision-making
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire praised center fielder Aaron Hicks before Sunday's game against the Phillies for his work defensively this spring and for improving on hitting the cutoff man, but Hicks ended up misfiring on two throws home in Minnesota's 5-1 loss.
Hicks threw wildly to home in the second inning trying get Marlon Byrd out on a sacrifice fly, which advanced Dominic Brown from second to third base. In the third, Hicks attempted to throw out Ben Revere at home as he attempted to advance from second on a single from Jimmy Rollins, which allowed Rollins to reach second.
Hicks later made a strong throw to get Brown at home in the third on a two-out single from Carlos Ruiz, but Gardenhire wants to see better decisions from Hicks.
"[Going] 1-for-3 is usually a good day, but not on throwing to the cutoff man," Gardenhire joked. "The first one he just launched one, and the second one he thought was OK, but it wasn't OK because the guy reached second.
"You're not throwing Ben Revere out. I don't care who you are. But the last one he kept the ball down. But it can't take three throws. We were already down ... ."
But Gardenhire still has liked what he's seen from Hicks, as he strongly hinted that Hicks will be the starting center fielder over Alex Presley come Opening Day on March 31.
"Hicksie is probably going to be in center," Gardenhire said. "He's been running the ball down pretty good."
Hicks said he's been working with the coaching staff on his decision-making in center field, and feels like he's making strides, but the first two throws just got away from him on Sunday.
"It's definitely a focus," Hicks said. "You really have to hit [cutoff men] and keep runners from going to the next bag."