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FORT MYERS, FLA. – Anthony DeSclafani was sidelined for the final two months of the 2023 season because of a flexor strain near his right elbow, and the Twins starting pitcher insists he wasn't concerned when he felt soreness around his elbow last week.

DeSclafani threw a bullpen session Friday, his first since he experienced soreness, and he plans to throw another bullpen Sunday before facing hitters next week.

The Twins acquired DeSclafani in the Jorge Polanco trade, and he's likely competing with Louie Varland for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. DeSclafani chalked up his elbow soreness to pitching with more intensity when he faced Twins hitters in camp.

"Coming back from [last year's injury], it's always expected something can happen like that," DeSclafani said. "We got right on it. Just trying to be aggressive with treatment and all that stuff. It was really a couple of days down and got right back at it."

The level of soreness, DeSclafani said, didn't merit an MRI exam. If DeSclafani doesn't have any setbacks, head trainer Nick Paparesta is optimistic DeSclafani could be ready by Opening Day.

"We're going to make sure that we take care of him, and then we ramp him up," Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It's clearly not going to be an ultra-aggressive ramp-up. It's going to be a ramp-up that we know we're going to have to take a little bit of time each step of the way and do it the right way because we're doing this for the long haul."

DeSclafani, who will turn 34 in April, sat at 93-94 mph with his fastball, his usual range, during his first live batting practice session on Feb. 20. He drew swings and misses with his fastball and slider when he faced Christian Vázquez, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton.

"I have no concerns," said DeSclafani, who had a 4.88 ERA in 99⅔ innings with San Francisco in 2023.

Thielbar, Weiss on the mend

Caleb Thielbar showed up to the Twins' spring training complex in mid-January for an early start to his spring training, but he's a little behind other pitchers after he strained his left hamstring last week.

Thielbar threw a bullpen session Friday, which he estimated was at 90-95% intensity, and he's expected to resume throwing to hitters in live batting practice sessions next week.

"Not happy that it happened," Thielbar said. "I came down very early this year to avoid this kind of stuff, but you know what? It happens. Just got to roll with the punches a little bit. Still in a good place body-wise, arm-wise."

Righthanded reliever Zack Weiss, an offseason waiver claim, is sidelined with a teres major strain in his right shoulder, and he's not expected to resume playing catch for another week.

Lewis hits grand slam

It doesn't matter whether it's the regular season or spring training; bases loaded situations keep finding Royce Lewis, and Mr. Grand Slam continues to live up to his name.

Lewis hammered a 425-foot grand slam in the third inning Friday in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Hammond Stadium, crushing an 88-mph pitch over the heart of the plate from minor leaguer Jordan DiValerio in a 3-0 count.

"You almost laugh to yourself a little bit that you're in the situation again," Baldelli said. "Even without the homer, you're still sitting there like, 'My God, it feels like we load the bases for this guy a lot.'"

When Lewis walked into the clubhouse after he was substituted, one Twins staffer yelled to him, "That's all you do!"

"I think these guys are just like, 'What the heck, man. I don't know what's going on,'" Lewis said. "I said the same thing. I really don't. I just enjoy it. Take advantage of the opportunities when they come."

Edouard Julien provided two of the Twins' three hits on the afternoon, which included a leadoff homer to left field against Lucas Giolito.