FORT MYERS, Fla. -- To Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, pitching on Opening Day will be just another start. Not that he's taking the recently assigned honor lightly; that's just how Nolasco approaches the game.
That's also exactly how he approached Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins, in which he limited Miami to two runs on seven hits over five innings, walking none for the third straight start. Despite taking the mound for the first time since being named Minnesota's Opening Day starter by manager Ron Gardenhire, Nolasco said Sunday's Spring Training outing felt no different than any other -- including that upcoming Opening Day start.
"It's just another game," Nolasco said of taking the ball for the Twins' season opener against the rival White Sox. "You don't make too much about it. You go out there and do what you got to do. Set the tempo for your team early, get them back in the dugout and try to score some runs. I don't put too much thought into it, just go out there and keep doing what I need to do."
Signed to the largest free-agent deal in club history this offseason, Nolasco is in line to make his third career Opening Day start when he makes his Twins debut on March 31. He also got the Opening Day nod as a member of the Marlins in 2009 and again last season.
Gardenhire has been impressed with what he's seen thus far out of the 31-year-old right-hander, including the way Nolasco settled in on Sunday. The righty ran into some early trouble against his former team when he allowed three straight hits to start the second inning, the last of which was an RBI bunt single by Reed Johnson that put the Marlins ahead, 1-0.
Nolasco, however, quickly escaped the jam with a double play ball and another groundout, limiting the Marlins to just one run. He eventually retired seven of the final eight batters he faced, including two of the last four via strikeouts.
"He just goes about his business. He knows what he's doing there," Gardenhire said. "Nolasco is fine. We don't worry about him too much, just does his thing."
Including Sunday's outing, Nolasco has a 3.27 ERA through three Grapefruit League starts with the Twins. He's allowed four runs on 13 hits over 11 innings, and he has yet to walk a batter, while notching five strikeouts.
Twins trim Spring Training roster by eight
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins announced their second round of cuts on Sunday, optioning three players to Triple-A Rochester and reassigning five others to Minor League camp.
The trio optioned to Rochester consisted of left-hander Kris Johnson, catcher Eric Fryer and infielder Danny Santana, while the club reassigned left-hander Sean Gilmartin, outfielders Darin Mastroianni and Jermaine Mitchell, and infielders James Beresford and Brandon Waring to Minor League camp.
Following the eight moves, the Twins have 40 players remaining in big league camp, including 10 non-roster invitees.
Prior to Sunday's roster moves, Mastroianni was believed to be in the running to start the season with the Twins as an extra outfielder. He may still eventually assume that role, but the club wanted him to play on an everyday basis for the time being.
"He needs at-bats. He needs to get the bat going," said assistant general manager Rob Antony. "He missed a lot of time last year and I think he just needs to get his timing down a little more. Rather than playing every other day or getting an at-bat or two here, he can go down and play every day."
With Mastroianni temporarily out of the picture, the Twins are left with Alex Presley and Aaron Hicks to battle for the center-field job. Antony said that if Hicks does not end up landing the starting job out of camp, he would likely return to Rochester to continue playing in an everyday role. Presley, however, could stick around as an extra outfielder, even if he loses out on the starting gig.
Still, Antony has high hopes that Mastroianni can regain his offensive form and get back into that discussion sooner rather than later.
"If he goes down and swings the bat and gets on a roll, I still think he has a role on the Major League team," Antony said. "He can do a lot of things -- play all the outfield positions, steal bases for you, pinch-run late in games, defense late in games, right-handed batter on a predominantly left-handed team. So if he gets going offensively, he can find his way back up here before long."
Two other notable names among Sunday's cuts were Santana and Gilmartin, the club's No. 12- and No. 13-ranked prospects, respectively.
Santana's offensive skill set was on full display this spring, as he hit .391 (9-for-23) with two triples, three doubles and three stolen bases in 10 games. He spent all of last season with Double-A New Britain, where he posted a .297/.333/.386 slash line with 10 triples, 30 stolen bases and 45 RBIs, though he also made 32 errors at shortstop and has had a few miscues with the Twins this spring.
"[Santana] needs to eliminate some of the careless mistakes," Antony said. "He shows range, he can run, he can steal a base, he can hit from both sides of the plate and he's got a little pop. I was impressed; I thought he did very well. That's the biggest thing. He just needs to be focused, consistent and make the routine plays."
As for Gilmartin, the pitching prospect acquired from the Braves this winter in exchange for catcher Ryan Doumit, he goes to Minor League camp after posting a 1.50 ERA in four appearances this spring. He allowed one run over six innings of work, while striking out five and walking two.
Florimon scheduled to return Monday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon is expected to rejoin the big league club for Monday's trip to Sarasota, Fla., to face the Orioles after making another successful appearance Sunday in a Minor League game.
Florimon, who had his appendix removed on Feb. 17, went 1-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and two strikeouts over five innings at shortstop in Sunday's game at the Minor League camp. He also played three innings in a Minor League game on Friday before resting Saturday.
"He looked fine," said assistant general manager Rob Antony, who watched some of Florimon's appearance on a side field at Hammond Stadium. "It still looks like he's trying to get his timing down, which is to be expected."