FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash worked overtime after a long trip home from Cuba, guiding the Rays past the Minnesota Twins 5-2 Wednesday.
Cash, his coaches and players were stuck for several hours overnight at the airport in Havana because their plane had mechanical trouble. They arrived back in Tampa around 5 a.m. after beating the Cuban national team Tuesday afternoon.
Cash got to Fort Myers about an hour before the first pitch. Cash and third base coach Charlie Montoyo were the only uniformed personnel who were at the game in Cuba and the exhibition vs. the Twins. The average uniform number for the Rays' starting lineup was 67.78.
For Cash, it made for a long day, and night, and day. He said he hadn't slept since waking up Tuesday morning, landing in Tampa, returning to the team's spring complex in Port Charlotte and traveling to Fort Myers.
''We got on the plane and there was a circuit breaker issue,'' Cash said. ''We had a mechanic with us on the plane. Eastern Airlines had a mechanic on the plane. He spent probably 2 1/2, 3 hours and couldn't fix it, which is understandable.''
''We had an option of getting off the plane and going to check into the hotel and flying out, but we'd have to go through customs again. And we kind of decided, `Nah, let's just sit on the plane and we'll wait five hours for another plane to come in.''
Cash said overall, the Cuban experience was outstanding despite the travel woes.
''It made for a long day but that's, I can assure you, the worst part about that trip. Everything else was just spot on. It was awesome. The guys had a blast,'' he said.
Ricky Nolasco pitched six scoreless innings for Minnesota, giving up three hits and striking out seven. Closer Glen Perkins then took over and gave up three runs on two hits and a walk while getting two outs.
''I didn't really like the game but if you look at the positives I would have to say Ricky would be at or near the top of our performance,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''I thought he had a good day and it was fun watching him pitch.''
Left-hander Dana Eveland started for the Rays, going two innings, allowing one hit.
Rays: Eveland is a nonroster invitee trying to make the bullpen. In 8 2/3 innings this spring, he has allowed just three unearned runs.
''A guy that is going to factor into some decisions here down the end of spring training,'' Cash said. ''Gave him the start simply because we wanted to see him face some of the big guys.''
Twins: Nolasco, competing for a spot in the rotation, was not concerned by the lack of big leaguers in the Rays' starting lineup.
''Sometimes those guys are a pain,'' he said. ''You know, a guy swings at the first pitch of the game, kind of surprised me. But you got to adjust because you know what they're trying to do and in certain counts you know what they're going to be doing and you got to adjust to them.''
''Obviously, it's Triple-A or whatever those guys were, but it's spring training. Nobody's ready completely. Everybody's working on things. That's the bottom line,'' he said.
Twins: Right fielder Miguel Sano tweaked his ankle in a game Tuesday, but Molitor said on Wednesday that Sano ''was fine.''
Molitor announced that Ervin Santana would be his opening day starter on April 4 in Baltimore, followed by Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes. The remaining two spots will be decided from Tyler Duffey, Tommy Milone and Nolasco.
A LITTLE LEEWAY
Major League Baseball has a spring training rule requiring visiting teams to bring at least four regulars - or potential regulars - to road games. Cash said he had been planning to do that, but the travel schedule got in the way.
''We were very grateful for MLB and also the Twins for giving us a little leniency on the rule, I guess, because we had every intention of being down here. We had plenty of guys coming but when we rolled in at whatever time it was,'' he said. ''it just didn't make the most sense to risk somebody getting hurt because they're not rested.''
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese will start against the Yankees in Tampa on Thursday.
Twins: Milone gets the start on Thursday when the Twins travel to Jupiter to face the Marlins.