Club to decide backup catcher in meeting
Gardenhire likes Ramos, but Butera may land position
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hasn't hid his desire to have Wilson Ramos begin the year as the club's backup catcher, but ultimately that decision will come down to what the organization feels is best for Ramos.A decision on whether Ramos or Drew Butera will be the club's backup catcher to Joe Mauer was expected to be made when Gardenhire and his coaching staff met with general manager Bill Smith following Tuesday's contest against the Pirates. The meeting came just shortly after Ramos, who is considered one of Minnesota's top prospects, hit a home run that cleared the tall batter's eye in center field. It was one of two impressive home runs that the catcher has hit this spring -- the other coming off former Twins starter and fellow Venezuelan Johan Santana -- as he's batted .400 (12-for-30) with a .733 slugging percentage in 13 games. Both Ramos, 22, and Butera, 26, are considered to be good catch-and-throw guys behind the plate, but Ramos, who has not played a game about Double-A, clearly has more offensive upside. And Gardenhire acknowledged that he could find a lot of ways to use Ramos in that backup role. "He would give me more of an ability to play him than most other backup catchers," Gardenhire said. "I wouldn't be afraid to give Joe more days off, let's put it that way, because of this kid. He's pretty good. It would help me with Joe, protect him a little more." But Gardenhire said that the decision ultimately won't come down to just his thoughts. There are questions as to whether it would be better for Ramos' development to play every day at Triple-A Rochester rather than to be backup at the Major League level. So Gardenhire said all those things would be weighed when the two sides met on Tuesday. "We're trying to do the right thing for him, our club and for our organization," Gardenhire said. "That's all we're doing."
Bullpen situation unsettled due to ailments
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff were meeting with general manager Bill Smith after Tuesday's game and expected to be able to announce the majority of the roster decisions Wednesday morning. All of them, that is, except for the bullpen.The Twins' bullpen situation has been made a little bit complicated due to some injuries to two pitchers who had appeared to be locks to make the club. Gardenhire said that left-hander Jose Mijares has been experiencing blurry vision and he was going to see an eye doctor on Tuesday. It's unclear whether Mijares will pitch Wednesday, as scheduled. Right-hander Clay Condrey also has a stiff throwing arm. He had been scheduled to throw Tuesday, but Gardenhire said that the club would wait to see how he was doing in the next day or two. The good news for the Twins was they got some positive results from two pitchers who are also considered in the mix for a bullpen spot. Glen Perkins (lower back strain) pitched two innings in a Minor League contest on Tuesday afternoon. He allowed two runs on three hits, while striking out three. He didn't issue a single walk as he threw 28 pitches. And Gardenhire said that Perkins pitched better than his final line. "The ball was coming out of his hand good and his breaking ball was decent," Gardenhire said. "We just missed some plays behind him and left him out there a little longer than we should. I don't know what his line was but he threw the ball better than [that]." In his first game action since signing a Minor League deal with the Twins last week, Ron Mahay pitched one scoreless frame and threw 11 pitches. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said he was pleased with what he saw from Mahay, who will throw again on Thursday. The club will wait to see how Perkins feels the day after throwing before determining when he'll pitch again this week.
Duensing pleased to land relief role
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins had not yet announced their fifth starter by Tuesday morning, but Brian Duensing seemed ready to embrace a role in the bullpen.So it likely came as no surprise to Duensing, who was also in the running for the fifth rotation spot, when Francisco Liriano announced after his outing on Tuesday that he'll start on April 9 in Chicago against the White Sox. "Basically what I was told is that it's going to be just like last year, I'll start out in the bullpen and most likely be a long-relief guy," Duensing said before Tuesday's contest. "I might get in late in a game once in awhile but other than that, just be in the bullpen and if something happens -- we need a spot starter or another starter -- hopefully I'll be stretched out enough that I can fill that role." Having pitched in relief for the Twins before joining their rotation toward the end of last year, Duensing said he now knows a little more of what to expect in the role. He'll get one more start this spring when he faces the Yankees in Tampa on Wednesday, but then he'll move into the bullpen. "It's just good to know what's going on," said Duensing, who went 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 24 appearances (nine starts) for the Twins last season. "I think knowing what my role is can only help me prepare for the whole season."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.