Yankees beat the Twins, 4-2

March 20, 2009 4:07:25 PM PDT
Mark Teixeira hit his first spring training home run for the New York Yankees, a solo drive off Joe Nathan in a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Teixeira, a notoriously slow starter, was 11-for-28 (.393) with two RBIs before his sixth-inning homer. He went 0-for-2 hitting right-handed against lefty Glen Perkins before switching to left-handed against Nathan.

Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees, learned to switch-hit at the urging of his father, John.

"He tried to challenge me," Teixeira said. "I started to get pretty good at it. I like switch-hitting. It probably took me two years to really do it once I put my mind to it. Once I did that, it definitely worked out for me. I tried it as a sophomore in high school. I started full time when I was about 13."

Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes gave up one run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out none.

He lowered his ERA to 2.19 but likely won't have a rotation spot because the Yankees signed free agents CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and intend to start Joba Chamberlain.

"He's pitched well all spring," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, there's a chance he won't be with us. But he's growing up as a pitcher. He's throwing the ball well. It's a numbers game for the starters. We moved Joba into the rotation. We feel good about our rotation. But he learned a lot from last year. He looks at this as a challenge."

Hughes felt good about his outing.

"I felt good about my fastball command today, and I felt good about my changeup," Hughes said. "My curve wasn't great, but was usable. I did throw some good cutters. Overall, I feel good. I feel strong. I'm ready to go."

Twins starter Glen Perkins allowed four hits in five scoreless innings, struck out one and walked one.

"I got away from what I was supposed to be doing a little bit," Perkins said of his first two innings. "I refocused."

Perkins said that being designated a lock to start allowed him to focus on improving his pitches rather than worrying about having to make the team or earn a spot.

"I feel like I still have some work to do with my changeup," he said. "I've worked a lot on my slider. I really want to know what it feels like to throw a good one."

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder, started and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who has been troubled with sore knees, started and went 0-for-3.

Twins shortstop Nick Punto, who was hit by a ball in the right arm while playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, played for the first time in a week and went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the third inning off Hughes. Punto also hit a double. New York's Austin Jackson hit a solo home run in the ninth inning against Jason Jones.

"He's still a work in progress," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Mijares, whose ERA rose to 11.37. "He's just not getting it where he wants it. We still have time left. He has a pretty good arm."

Notes: The Twins optioned C Wilson Ramos to Double-A New Britain and reassigned LHP Mike Gosling and RHP Kevin Mulvey to their minor league camp.