03/29/2013 6:21 PM ET
Ramirez's hard work pays off with roster spot
By Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- General manager Terry Ryan was pleased when he looked at Friday's starting lineup and saw Wilkin Ramirez in center field.
"He may have to do that," Ryan predicted, although the Twins see Ramirez primarily as a corner outfielder.
Ramirez, a non-roster invitee who made the team as an extra outfielder and pinch-hitter by batting .415 with a team-high 10 doubles, five RBIs and nine runs scored in 18 games, has been one of the Twins' pleasant surprises this spring.
The Twins have until Sunday to make room on their 40-man roster for the 27-year-old outfielder, although the Blue Jays solved that problem Friday when they claimed right-hander Alex Burnett off waivers.
Ramirez, who made his professional debut in the Tigers' organization in 2003 at the age of 17, last appeared in a Major League game with the Braves on July 27, 2011.
Morneau day to day with back stiffness
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Justin Morneau, who was scratched from the Twins' lineup Thursday night after experiencing mild lower back stiffness during his pregame workout, is "day to day," said general manager Terry Ryan.
"His back is OK," Ryan said Friday, although Morneau was not in the lineup. "He's healthy."
Will Morneau be in the lineup Saturday, when the Twins play their final Grapefruit League game?
"I don't know," said Ryan. "It depends on how he feels."
However, Ryan said he does expect Morneau to be in the lineup when the Twins open the season at home against the Tigers on Monday.
Morneau, who participated in the World Baseball Classic, has played in 15 games this spring, batting .267 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
De Vries' exit may have ramifications on rotation
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the first three innings Friday, Cole De Vries was almost perfect, but he then felt some tightness in his right forearm. Suddenly, the Twins are worried about the back end of their starting rotation.
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins' 8-3 win over the Red Sox. "It didn't sound like it was a big deal, but we'll have to see how he feels tomorrow."
De Vries, who left the ballpark and was not available to the media, is scheduled to start the Twins' fifth game of the season April 6 against the Orioles.
De Vries faced just nine Red Sox batters during his abbreviated stint on the mound. He walked one and struck out one. Mike Napoli, the lone Boston hitter to reach base, was erased on a double play.
"He was throwing the ball just fine," Gardenhire said. "When he came into the dugout after the third inning, he said had a little tightness in his right forearm."
Although De Vries was scheduled to throw about 80 pitches and had only thrown 37, Gardenhire immediately removed him from the game.
In seven Grapefruit League appearances, including four starts, De Vries was 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA and allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits. De Vries was 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 17 games with Minnesota last year.
It is unclear who might take De Vries' place in the rotation if he is sidelined. Scott Diamond, who won a team-leading 12 games last year, is recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow and won't be ready to join the rotation until at least April 12.
Wood lands on DL, Harden, Perez sent to Minors camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins trimmed their squad to 25 players Friday, placing reliever Tim Wood on the 15-day disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain, and reassigning pitchers Rich Harden and Rafael Perez, who are both coming back from shoulder surgery, to Minor League camp.
That means the Twins' bullpen will consist of right-handers Jared Burton, Josh Roenicke, Ryan Pressly and Casey Fien and left-handers Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Tyler Robertson.
"Everybody has a lot of movement in the bullpen," said general manager Terry Ryan.
Ryan added that Perez "is a little closer than Harden" to being ready to pitch in a game, "and it's not far off." That could happen in about two weeks, Ryan said.
"Harden is making progress," said Ryan. "We're not backing off at all. We're ramping him up."
Ryan said Harden, who signed with the Twins as a Minor League free agent in December, could be used either as a starter or a reliever.
"As long as he's healthy, he can do both," Ryan said. "I don't really care, and I don't think he does, either."
Romero still trying to obtain visa in Dominican Republic
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The curious case of Deibinson Romero, the Twins' 26-year-old who has been trying since last month in obtain the visa he needed to travel from his native Dominican Republic to his first Major League Spring Training camp, continues.
Frustrated general manager Terry Ryan said Friday he hopes to have an answer "in the next day or two."
Last year, a hurricane destroyed the courthouse in Romero's hometown of Perdenales, leaving immigration officials with no reliable way to verify the ballplayer's identity or date of birth.
"We just need to prove he's who he says he is," Ryan explained. "Unfortunately, his birth certificate is not to be found. There was a flood in his town that took away the records in the courthouse. Major League Baseball has cleared him, but the consulate in the Dominican Republic has not. It's complicated."
Romero signed with the Twins as an undrafted free agent in 2004.
"We've had him for eight years," Ryan noted.
Romero had been invited to Twins' camp on a non-roster basis this spring. Romero batted .267, with a career-high 19 home runs and 78 RBIs last season at Double-A New Britain.
"We'll take him when we can get him -- if we can get him," Ryan said.
• The Twins have announced their starting rotation for the first three games of the regular season against the Tigers. Vance Worley will face Justin Verlander on Monday at 3:10 p.m. CT. After an open date on Tuesday, Kevin Correia will oppose Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday (3:10 p.m.) and Mike Pelfrey will face Rick Porcello on Thursday (12:10 p.m.).
• Scott Diamond will remain in Florida to continue his rehab. He is scheduled to pitch in Minor League games on Tuesday and again on April 7. Since the Twins have two early-season off-days, they will only need a fifth starter once before Diamond is scheduled to return on April 12. Liam Hendriks, who was struck on his pitching hand by a line drive on Tuesday, will remain in Fort Myers to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday before joining the team in Minnesota and is currently the leading candidate to make that spot start on April 7 against the Orioles.
• Infielder Eduardo Escobar started in left field Friday. "This is good for the versatility of our ballclub," Ryan said. "He'll be our third catcher, he can play the outfield, and he can play second base, third or short."
• The Twins were hoping outfielder Darin Mastroianni would be able to play in at least one more Grapefruit League game after fouling a ball off his left foot earlier this week. However, he was not in the lineup Friday and Ryan said Mastroianni might not play Saturday.
"[He will] be OK Opening Day," said Ryan.
• The Blue Jays claimed right-hander Alex Burnett off waivers Friday. Burnett, who was selected by Minnesota in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, appeared in 174 games, posting an 8-11 record with a 4.61 ERA.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.