Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press
FORT MYERS Fla. — In less than a week, the Twins will head north for the season. Opening Day is right around the corner, March 28 at Target Field, but before that Twins have tough decisions to make as they finalize their roster. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey sat down for a wide-ranging, 35-minute chat with reporters on Wednesday. Here are five takeaways from that discussion: No closer yet
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lucas Duda’s short time with the Minnesota Twins has ended, as the Twins informed the veteran first baseman before their 6-5 exhibition loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, March 20, that he would not make the roster, granting him his release.
FORT MYERS Fla. -- Nelson Cruz trotted out to center field before Wednesday’s exhibition game started and began playing catch to warm up with Byron Buxton. The sight of the 6-foot-2, 230-pound designated hitter in center drew a couple of double takes from those watching, including an umpire. But perhaps nobody was more surprised than first-base coach Tommy Watkins, who is responsible for working with the outfielders.
FORT MYERS Fla. — As the number of days until Opening Day dwindle, the number of players in the clubhouse continues to shrink as well. After Tuesday, March 19, the Twins had 41 players remaining in big-league camp, a number that will need to get down to 25 next week. But though cuts have been happening since March 8, the more difficult decisions are coming soon. And those who are involved have been making those decisions even tougher as the Twins sort through their bench options.
FORT MYERS Fla. — Other than Jose Berrios, who the Twins already have announced will get the ball Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians, new manager Rocco Baldelli isn’t quite yet ready to announce how he will deploy the rest of his starters to begin the season. But with so many days off to begin the season — five in a 15-day stretch — it appears that Martin Perez will begin the season in the bullpen before moving back to the rotation once the schedule normalizes.
FORT MYERS Fla. — Paul Molitor isn’t exactly sure what he was doing in mid-February when pitchers and catchers reported to Twins camp. Probably shoveling snow, he guessed. “I picked a bad year to get fired,” he quipped. “It was a rough winter.” Molitor eventually made it down to spring training to check in and catch some baseball with his 12-year-old son, Ben, who is on spring break. Monday, March 18, he spoke in depth with reporters for the first time since his firing in early October.
FORT MYERS Fla. — The Twins are seven games to play before Opening Day at Target Field, but it’s not hard to imagine that the lineup first-year manager Rocco Baldelli trotted out on Monday, March 18, could be the one he will roll with against the Cleveland Indians on March 28 at Target Field. Monday's lineup beat the Red Sox 4-1 in an exhibition game at Hammond Stadium.
FORT MYERS, Fla.— When Tyler Austin is in the clubhouse, he makes his presence felt. “You always know he’s there, and that’s great,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That gives our clubhouse and dugout a lot of life.” The first baseman is hoping to spend some more time in that clubhouse as he works to crack the Twins’ 25-man roster. While recent additions have made Austin’s path harder, he’s doing his best this spring to force the Twins into tough decisions.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For five years, Tanner Swanson was an assistant coach at the University of Washington. Among his duties, he served as the school’s camp director from 2012-17 and was tasked with filling out the coaching staff for the JR Dawgs youth camp. Billy Boyer and Nate Rasmussen were among those he hired to help out with the 7-12-year-olds. So were Kainoa Correa, Craig Driver and Mike Gange.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As rain continued to patter down on the field at Charlotte Sports Park Saturday, March 16, and the Tampa Bay starting pitcher and catcher had begun to take the field, manager Rocco Baldelli headed out of the third-base dugout to again confer with the umpires near home plate. A few minutes later, a tarp was being pulled onto the field and the game was called. The Minnesota Twins were soon back on their way down south to Fort Myers.