3/18/2014 11:45 P.M. ET
Twins not rushing to make roster decisions
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With less than two weeks before the Twins open the season against the White Sox on March 31 in Chicago, questions still remain on what the roster will look like on Opening Day.
The Twins still have to make 15 roster cuts, as they currently have 40 players in big league camp, including 20 pitchers (four non-roster), four catchers (one non-roster), nine infielders (three non-roster) and seven outfielders (two non-roster).
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said the roster should start shaping up soon, but the club hasn't made any official decisions on the fifth starter, the bullpen or the bench. The Twins also have to decide whether to start Aaron Hicks or Alex Presley in center field, and whether Josmil Pinto or Chris Herrmann will be the backup catcher to Kurt Suzuki.
"We've had good discussions," Antony said. "Everybody voices their opinions and everybody understands we have time. We've sent guys over for a reason, and the guys who are still over here are over here for a reason. So we still have 10 days to make our final decisions, but we'll probably make most of our decisions before that time. You like to have your team set."
The Twins still have to decide on a fifth starter between Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson, and they have decisions to make in the bullpen as well. Deduno appears to be the frontrunner for that final spot in the rotation, but Worley and Diamond are also out of Minor League options.
It could create a logjam in the bullpen if they decide to keep Worley or Diamond on as relievers instead of using them in the rotation. But Worley didn't help his cause with a rough outing against the Rays on Tuesday night, when he gave up seven runs on 11 hits over 2 2/3 innings.
The Twins are giving all four candidates a chance to see Grapefruit League action this week, with Gibson starting against the Cardinals on Wednesday and Diamond starting against the Rays on Thursday. Deduno will also back up Gibson on Wednesday.
"All four guys are going to pitch over the next three days, including tonight, so we'll reevaluate the situation after that," Antony said before Worley's outing. "If somebody is clearly out of the mix, we can discuss something or else we can roll them all out again. We have a little time on our side."
The Twins also have to decide on their bench, with Eduardo Escobar likely to make the club as a utility infielder, while Jason Kubel, Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello are seemingly fighting for two spots. Kubel isn't on the Major League roster but remains likely to make the team as a designated hitter and backup outfielder. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said nothing has been decided about the bench just yet.
"That's still way up in the air," Gardenhire said. "We've still got a long way to go before we get there. I'll tell you this, there's no agreement on any of that right now. Everybody has a different opinion on which way to go with our guys off the bench. We've had these conversations three different times. Everybody likes different people right now."
Hughes pitches six strong innings in Minors game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Phil Hughes got his work in on Tuesday by pitching six strong innings in a Minor League game for Class A Advanced Fort Myers at the Lee County Sports Complex.
Hughes was originally slated to start against the Rays on Tuesday night at Hammond Stadium, but with Monday's game against the Orioles rained out, right-hander Vance Worley saw his start pushed back a day and started in place of Hughes against the Rays.
Hughes was sharp in Minor League action, giving up just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. He also threw 73 pitches.
"I thought he looked really good," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He was really sharp. I think he's looked sharp all spring."
Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing also pitched in a Minor League game on Tuesday, as he tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts for Class A Cedar Rapids. Right-handed reliever Casey Fien also pitched for Cedar Rapids, throwing a scoreless frame with one strikeout.
Worley has rough start in rotation audition
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It wasn't the way Vance Worley envisioned his start would go against the Rays on Tuesday night.
Worley, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation along with Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson, struggled mightily in his fourth Grapefruit League outing.
The right-hander gave up seven runs on 11 hits, including six doubles, over 2 2/3 innings, suffering a blow to his chances of landing the final spot in the rotation. Deduno remains the favorite for that final spot, but Worley, Gibson and Diamond were all given consecutive starts this week to showcase their stuff.
Gibson starts Wednesday against the Cardinals and Diamond starts Thursday against the Rays, but Worley's outing on Tuesday simply didn't help his chances to make the rotation. But Worley, who has a 13.50 ERA this spring, said it remains out of his control, and all he can do is keep working to get better.
"All I can do is go out and work," Worley said. "They know I'm out there working really hard and doing everything I can. I lost all this weight. So I gotta do something right, and hopefully they see that."
Worley was jumped early, giving up a double to Wil Myers on just the second pitch of the game. It didn't get much better from there as Myers had three doubles on the night, including an RBI double with two outs in the third to chase Worley from the game.
"I prepared myself all week to start and everything went well in the bullpen, but I took it out there and the first inning I couldn't get the ball down in the zone," Worley said. "They hit the ball pretty much everywhere. And the second inning we tried to pound in some four-seam [fastballs], because the two-seamers were staying up in the zone, and they came in hacking. And the third inning, I thought we had everything on the right path and everything unraveled again."
Worley is out of Minor League options, so if he doesn't make the rotation, the Twins have to determine whether to convert him to a reliever to keep him on the roster, or expose him to waivers to send him to Triple-A Rochester.
"He warmed up as well as I've ever seen him, and then as soon as they said, 'Play ball,' the ball was elevated," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "The more he tried and pressed, the more he elevated."