FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Shortstop J.J. Hardy and second baseman Orlando Hudson, the Minnesota Twins' new double play combination, are getting acquainted in the infield.
The two are being paired during spring training so they can learn each other's tendencies and get comfortable with a new partner around the bag. And even though they have yet to turn a double play in four exhibition games, both said they expect their new working arrangement to go smoothly.
Hardy was acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, while Hudson signed with the Twins as a free agent. Minnesota is Hudson's fourth major league team.
"I think the transition will be easy," said Hardy, who was dealt for outfielder Carlos Gomez in November. "I think by April 5 when we're in Anaheim, it will be just fine."
Hardy welcomes the chance to work with Hudson, even though he acknowledges that he misses his former partner Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.
"Rickie definitely doesn't talk quite as much," Hardy said. "I don't think anybody does. But they're both really good players."
After spending the previous eight seasons in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Dodgers, four-time Gold Glove winner Hudson is accustomed to meeting new teammates and shortstops. Mike Bordick, Felipe Lopez, Stephen Drew, Rafael Furcal, Russ Adams and Aaron Hill are some of shortstops who have combined for double plays over the years with Hudson.
"He makes sure the ball goes into the glove before he does anything else," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier this spring after watching Hudson work. "A lot of guys forget they have to catch the ball first. But right away from the get-go, he was locked in. He was like perfect."
Hardy is also known for his pop at the plate. He hit 26 home runs in 2007 and 24 in 2008. And he has made the fourth-fewest errors for a shortstop since 2007, with 36.
"The chemistry is right there," Hudson said. "We're right where we need to be. Everybody's different. Everybody's different. But that's what spring training is for. That's what the early spring is for."
Notes: Twins C Joe Mauer said he felt fine after fouling a pitch off his right shoulder in the third inning of Thursday night's game against the Orioles. He said he would have been able to play Friday if it were the regular season, but he will miss Saturday's game in Clearwater against the Phillies as a precaution. ... Gardenhire said all of his pitchers but his four named starters — Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey — would be considered for a bullpen role should closer Joe Nathan miss the season with a right elbow injury. That includes lefty Francisco Liriano, although he will continue to start games and remain in contention for that fifth starter's spot. ...Twins bench coach Steve Liddle continued to undergo tests Friday after being hospitalized with chest pains Thursday. ... The Twins' game with the Mets on Friday was rained out. It was Minnesota's first spring rainout since March 9, 2005.