Twins 2

(5-8, 1-6 away)

Rays 5

(11-3, 6-1 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 17, 2010

    Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 000010001 2 - -
    TB 10100030 - 5 - -

    Rays 5, Twins 2

    Associated Press

    PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While the Tampa Bay Rays got their first look at closer Rafael Soriano in Wednesday's 5-2 exhibition victory, the Minnesota Twins maintained some hope they might get to see their own closer, Joe Nathan, at some point.

    Once the game started, however, Sean Rodriguez closed most of that discussion with two more hits, two more runs and a spectacular diving catch for the Rays.

    The 24-year-old Rodriguez, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels last August in the Scott Kazmir trade, is building a strong case to make the roster as a utility player. He didn't do anything to hurt his case Wednesday, stretching a single into a double in the first inning and getting another hit in the third off Minnesota starter Glen Perkins.

    Rodriguez scored the first two runs of the game.

    "You don't really go into camp expecting to have an unbelievable spring or a great spring," said Rodriguez, who is batting .433 (13 for 30) with five home runs and 11 RBIs. "You hope that you do what they ask you to do and hopefully that's enough. But it's been great."

    Playing his fifth position of the spring, Rodriguez went horizontal in center field in the third inning to rob Denard Span of an extra-base hit. He wouldn't say it was the best catch he has made, but added: "I can't say it wasn't."

    Manager Joe Maddon turned toward bench coach Dave Martinez as the ball was hit and said: "We're going to see how he goes back on the ball."

    What Maddon was most eager to see Wednesday was Soriano, the right-hander obtained from Atlanta to provide the closer the Rays lacked last season.

    Soriano pitched one shutout inning, striking out the first two Twins he faced, in what is scheduled to be one of six or seven spring appearances. To this point, he has pitched only batting practice and in the bullpen.

    "I take my time," he said. "Everything was fine. Today I think everybody was happy to see me."

    The Twins would have been even happier to see an inning from Nathan, their veteran closer who tore a ligament in his right elbow on March 6. The plan was for Nathan to rest the elbow for two weeks before trying to throw again, and Sunday looks like the most likely day.

    "We don't want to make a circus out of it or anything like that. We're trying to keep it as calm as we possibly can," said Maddon.

    "You'll probably see Joe this weekend. He'll go out and play some catch, and I hope you don't expect a big presence off the mound, throwing bullpen. We're talking about catch; if he can do that, then we'll go from there."

    Soriano relieved Rays starter James Shields, who worked five innings. Luke Hughes, who had three straight extra-base hits for the Twins, homered in the fifth inning off Shields and scored both Minnesota runs.

    Perkins gave up five hits and three runs in 2 1/3 innings.

    Game notes

    Twins 1B Justin Morneau will test his sore ribs in Fort Myers on Thursday and will probably return to the Twins' lineup. ... Maddon said the competition for the Rays' No. 5 pitching spot is "a proverbial flip of the coin right now." ... Rays reliever J.P. Howell, who has been held back due to overwork in the last two seasons, will pitch this weekend.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumCharlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL
    Umpires, First Base - Jeff Kellogg, Second Base - Marvin Hudson