Bobby Crosby lauds Mark McGwire

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Bobby Crosby's work with Mark McGwire in the past three offseasons appears to be paying off.

Crosby hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat a Minnesota Twins split squad 15-5 Sunday.

"He's a good guy to have around," Crosby said of the St. Louis Cardinals' new hitting coach. "He worked with me on being direct to the ball, taking a straight path. There's a lot more that goes into it, but he's a guy who really knows a swing."

Crosby hit 22 home runs in 2004, when he was the rookie of the year with Oakland. But he has not reached double digits in any season since then.

Pedro Alvarez had his first hit of the spring, an RBI triple off the right field wall in the second inning.

He scored when Crosby singled off Twins lefty Brian Duensing. Garrett Jones hit a two-out, two-run homer for hit first hit.

Twins closer Joe Nathan went to Minneapolis to have an MRI on his right elbow.

"The doctors told me it's some soreness in the back of the elbow," Gardenhire said. "By Tuesday, we'll see where we're at." Nathan, who had surgery Oct. 20 to remove bone spurs, left Saturday's game due to pain and tightness after throwing just 20 pitches.

Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer off Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf in the first. Ohlendorf worked two innings and allowed two runs on two hits.

"The mound was wet and he was slipping on a lot of pitches," Pirates manager John Russell said. "His breaking ball was really good and he had good life on his fastball, so I'm not worried at all."

Although it was a split-squad game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had five likely Opening Day starters in his lineup.

"We mixed it up as best we could," Gardenhire said. "I'll get to see them enough as we go along."

Gardenhire is especially keen on keeping second baseman Orlando Hudson and shortstop J.J. Hardy on the field at the same time. The Twins traded for Hardy in November. Hudson, an eight-year veteran, signed with Twins two weeks before the start of spring training.

"I want to see Hardy and Hudson together," Gardenhire said. "They're going to play together, so I want them to live with each other out there in the middle [of the infield]. They need to be around each other as much as they can, so if you bring one, you bring the other."

Hardy had an RBI single. Hudson went 0 for 3.


Twins pitcher Jose Lugo has a sore biceps and will be shut down for a day or two. ... The Twins signed right-hander Nick Blackburn to a four-year, $14 million contract. The deal includes an $8 million club option for 2014. ... Gardenhire received the Rotary Chuck Tanner Manager of the Year Award. Tanner, the former Pirates manager, presented Gardenhire with the award before Sunday's game.