See more of the story

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Kenta Maeda pitched four innings on Monday, but it didn't show up in any boxscore because he was on a back field diamond, not inside Hammond Stadium.

Kind of taking it easy, right?

"The lineup I faced today was probably better than the game lineup," the veteran Twins starter pointed out. "Buxton, Polo, AK, Nicky G. That's some lineup."

Fair point. Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Alex Kirilloff and Nick Gordon simply rotated through Maeda's workout, an exercise equally valuable to the hitters for the looks they got at big-league pitching. And how did the righthander's outing go?

"No runners" reached base, he insisted with a mischievous grin. "Absolutely zero."

Actually Maeda, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery, was relocated in order to allow him to sharpen some pitch mechanics that had eluded him during last Tuesday's four-walk grind against Baltimore. He threw more off-speed pitches during his 60-pitch outing than normal, he said, and "I was able to brush that up today."

His real discovery, though, was that being able to call his own pitches with the PitchCom device, similar to the way Sonny Gray has been doing this spring, is a big time-saver in this new pitch-clock era.

"It's beneficial to have both pitcher and catcher have the button, the transmitter, just to save time," said Maeda, who now plans to wear the small device from now on. "Especially after a hitter fouls off a pitch or changing hitters and I know absolutely what I want to throw next, that would save time significantly. Because sometimes we run out of time after a foul-off."

Kepler's homer does the trick

Max Kepler launched a 3-2 cutter from Deivi Garcia into the seats in right-center in the fourth inning Monday, and seven Twins pitchers held a Yankees lineup short on big-leaguers without a run in a 1-0 victory at Hammond Stadium.

Kepler, hitting .400 in Grapefruit League play, also singled in three at-bats, accounting for half of the Twins' four. But that was enough to improve the Twins to 6-1-1 at home this spring.

The sellout crowd of 8,568 included many Yankees fans who booed Joey Gallo each time up, but the former New York outfielder responded with an opposite-field single in his first at-bat.

Danny Coulombe pitched two shutout innings as the Twins' starter and Caleb Thielbar added one, stting the tone for a three-hit shutout. Former Twin Aaron Hicks went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Double dipping

The Twins will play split-squad games Tuesday, with most of the major league players staying in Fort Myers to face Pittsburgh, while the less experienced players take a bus ride to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to face the Rays.

First-base coach Hank Conger will make his managerial debut with the B squad.