03/22/2013 5:06 PM ET
Prospect Benson among Twins' latest round of cuts
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The starting center-fielder competition is down to two, as the Twins made another round of roster cuts on Friday, including outfielder Joe Benson, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester.
Left-hander Pedro Hernandez was also optioned to Triple-A Rochester, while right-hander Luis Perdomo and infielder Deibinson Romero were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Benson was in the competition to be the club's starting center fielder, but he was passed over for Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni, who are both having impressive springs.
"We think highly of him, but now it's time for him to get some regular playing time," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "He was out a lot last year. The best thing I thought about Joe was that his effort when he was out there was that he played the game as hard as you could imagine. So after last year, that's what I was hoping for -- that he'd be healthy and would compete for the spot."
Hicks, who leads the Twins in hits, homers, runs and RBIs in Grapefruit League play, is the favorite in center field, but Mastroianni is still in the mix, as he's hitting .429 with five doubles and seven stolen bases in 13 games. The Twins have yet to officially name a starter in center field.
"We're not anointing anybody right now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But I think we've all seen with our eyes that Hicksie can do this. But we believe Mastri can do this right now. He can do some things. So we'll let you know as we go along here who is going to be the starter."
Benson, ranked as the club's No. 13 overall prospect, showed flashes this spring, but ultimately hit .151/.286/.283 with two doubles, a homer, a triple and 15 strikeouts in 18 games. He also made two errors in the field.
The move was made to get him more at-bats in Triple-A, as he played in just 76 games last year because of injuries to his hamate bone and left knee that required surgery.
"He needs to fine-tune about every area of his game," Ryan said. "He's about as athletic as any player we've got. He can run balls down, he's got a good arm, he can steal a base, he can hit a ball a long way, so now it's just about fine-tuning."
Hernandez, who was acquired in the trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox last year, had a solid Spring Training, as he tossed 11 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and just one walk.
"I thought Hernandez had a good spring," Ryan said. "We're going to stretch him out down there. He can come back as either a starter or a reliever. He ultimately came in here and had a pretty good camp. I was pleased. He started to respond to some of the reports we got from scouts that recommended him, so that was good."
Perdomo, a non-roster invitee after posting a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings with the Twins last year, had a 3.86 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in seven innings this spring.
Romero, meanwhile, never made it to camp, as he is still in his native Dominican Republic because of a visa issue that the Twins say is not his fault.
"That's just a paper move," Ryan said. "When he does come, he'll report to the Minor League side."
Twins place pitchers Diamond, Swarzak on DL
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins placed left-hander Scott Diamond and right-hander Anthony Swarzak on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, as both pitchers won't be ready for the start of the season.
Diamond, who had a bone chip removed from his elbow in December, pitched in his first game on Tuesday, as he tossed two scoreless innings in a Minor League game against Triple-A Pawtucket. He said he plans on returning to the rotation by April 12 if everything continues to go as planned.
Swarzak, meanwhile, threw his second live bullpen session on Friday and is expected to pitch in a Minor League game sometime next week. There is still no official timetable for Swarzak, who has been out with two broken ribs sustained in a horseplay incident in late January, but he's eligible to return on April 6.
"He hasn't been in a game yet," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "There's no sense of worrying about that until he gets in a game. As soon as he gets into a game, we can count days, maybe."
In other injury news, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who was out with a strained right calf sustained while working out on March 9, returned to action at third base and batted seventh against the Yankees on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. He played in three Minor League games this week to get ready for his return.
And left-hander Rafael Perez, who is coming off shoulder surgery, threw his second bullpen session this week under the guidance of pitching coach Rick Anderson. He's building his arm strength and his next step will be facing hitters in a live bullpen session.
Deduno back with Twins after starring in Classic
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Samuel Deduno is back in Twins camp after helping to lead the Dominican Republic to the World Baseball Classic title, and said he was originally told he was scheduled to start on Sunday.
But after Friday's game against the Yankees, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the club changed its plans and will start P.J. Walters against the Blue Jays on Sunday instead. He said he'll have an update on Saturday on when Deduno will pitch next.
Deduno started three games for the Dominican Republic in the Classic, and he posted a 0.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 13 innings. He also tossed five scoreless innings to get the win in the championship game against Puerto Rico and made quite the impression on Twins coaches in the process.
Deduno, who is a non-roster invite to Spring Training after posting a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts with the Twins last season, is firmly in the mix for a spot in the rotation along with Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries and P.J. Walters.
So while Deduno has thrown just one scoreless inning in Grapefruit League play so far, he has no regrets about playing for his country in the Classic, especially considering how well he pitched.
"It was fun," Deduno said. "I was pretty excited. It was pretty good. That was the biggest game I'd ever pitched in my life. Pitching for my country was special, so I was excited."
Worley not concerned with spring results
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Vance Worley was hit hard again on Friday against the Yankees but said he's not concerned about his results this spring.
Worley gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits over five innings. He now has a 6.35 ERA this spring, which doesn't include the two runs he gave up in 3 1/3 innings against Puerto Rico in an exhibition game.
"I'm not worried about anything as far as going into the season," Worley said. "It's just about getting it out [of your system]. So I've got one more."
Worley could be the Opening Day starter for the Twins on April 1, but he hasn't been told anything by the coaching staff. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire declined to name his starter for the opener after Worley's Friday outing and said the club still has options for that first start against the Tigers.
Worley said his goal is to have a better outing in his last start of the spring to get ready for the regular season.
"Hopefully, [I'll] not give up nearly as many runs," Worley said. "I just need to be able to locate and make sure the ball is down. I can't just have it around the area I need, because it feels like I've given up a lot of hits this spring."