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Second spring start has Nolasco feeling 'great'

Second spring start has Nolasco feeling 'great'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After his last scheduled outing was washed out due to rain, right-hander Ricky Nolasco made his second Grapefruit League start for the Twins against the Rays on Tuesday.

Nolasco, who threw a simulated game on Thursday to stay on his normal rest, tossed four innings, giving up two runs on four hits with one strikeout. He now has a 3.00 ERA in six innings this spring.

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"It felt good to go back out there in a game and get some of that adrenaline," Nolasco said. "Everything feels great. I felt like I got a lot out of [the simulated game]. We didn't want to mess up the rotation in between or skip a bullpen or anything like that. So it went good and so did today."

Nolasco added that one of the things he tried to mix into Tuesday's start was throwing first-pitch breaking balls now that he's stretched out more.

"It's just something I have to work on in spring," Nolasco said. "It's a big part of my game. I wanted to mix things up. I was able to do that going four innings. It's a little tougher to do that going two innings."

Nolasco is expected to be the club's Opening Day starter, although Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has yet to make it official. But the skipper has been impressed by Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $49 million deal this offseason.

"He just knows what he's doing," Gardenhire said. "He goes about his business pretty good. He's pretty tough out there on the mound. You can tell he doesn't like to [mess] around too awful much. He goes right at them, uses his pitches, knows how to add and subtract, all those things that you hope when you brought him over here."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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