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Molitor dancing on line with spring lineups

Twins manager Paul Molitor File photo

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked this week if he planned to run his projected Opening Day lineup out anytime soon.

"I hope to see it some," he said. "The fact that you have to appease the rules regarding the four regulars changes things. We were a little bit on the line with a couple lineups, from what I've heard."

Major League Baseball has long required teams to bring representative teams on the road for spring training games, despite the fact they are merely exhibitions.

Starting March 1, teams are supposed to trot out four regulars with at least 300 plate appearances from the prior season, but that gets tricky with players like Kennys Vargas (264 plate appearances) and Ehire Adrianza (186) in competition for jobs this spring.

What about Mitch Garver and Zack Granite, who could open the year on the team's 25-man roster but who fell well short of that 300-trip figure last year?

"The criteria is specific but not 100-percent specific," Molitor said. "Just send out a list: 'These guys count, these guys don't.' Then you have a discussion if you have any issues with that in the beginning; and once you start, you know."

What about rookies like Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani?

"He might count for two," Molitor said.


The Tampa Bay Rays plan to use relievers to fill out the fifth spot in their rotation this season, but that's not something the Twins have interest in doing, Molitor said.

"I have not (considered that)," Molitor said. "I understand it's not the first time it's been talked about. I don't know how many times it's actually happened. Once in a while, circumstances in-season make you consider that, but to do it as a plan from the start, I'm not there for our personnel."

With veteran right-hander Ervin Santana recovering from Feb. 6 surgery on his right middle finger, the Twins are leaning toward opening the season with a four-man rotation for the first few weeks. Molitor said

"It's something we looked at from the beginning and it still, at least as of (now), looks like it's going to make sense for us to do that," Molitor said.

Asked if there was a front-runner for the fourth rotation spot after Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, Molitor declined to say so publicly.

"I don't want to say that," he said. "Obviously, you think about those things, but let it play out."


Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has agreed to a $602,500 salary for 2018, according to a person with direct knowledge.

That's the same salary that left fielder Eddie Rosario will receive. The difference is Rosario is getting a $50,000 raise over his 2017 pay, while Sano is playing for just a $30,000 raise.

Should Sano be optioned to Triple-A, his pay rate would be at $286,300, the person said.


Newly signed setup man Addison Reed has impressed Molitor in the early going.

"I think Addison Reed is just a tough at-bat,." Molitor said. "He's got a different look. He's got a little different delivery. (The ball) just comes out kind of funny. It's never straight. It's tough."

Reed worked a scoreless inning on Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox, his fourth and most recent team before signing a two-year, $16.75 million deal with the Twins.

Reed's fastball was in the 91-92 mph range as he ran his string of scoreless innings to four this spring with no walks and three strikeouts.