Another Twins player was given the opportunity to seek a contract with another team Friday, when infielder Doug Bernier was outrighted to Class AAA Rochester.
Like the four other Twins removed from the 40-man roster earlier this week — righthanded pitchers Josh Roenicke, Cole De Vries and Shairon Martis and outfielder Clete Thomas — Bernier can declare free agency and seek a 2014 contract with any team.
The 33-year-old Bernier was called up at the All-Star break and batted .226 in 64 plate appearances with the Twins, but he was used exclusively as a pinch runner and defensive replacement once Eduardo Escobar rejoined the team in September.
Bernier’s assignment brings the Twins roster to 35, plus two players, Wilkin Ramirez and Samuel Deduno, on the 60-day disabled list.
A project to enlarge and upgrade the Twins’ Fort Myers, Fla., headquarters and spring training home, including the expansion of Hammond Stadium’s capacity to 9,300, began shortly after the minor league season ended last month. On Thursday, officials from the team and Lee County held a groundbreaking ceremony to formally mark the beginning of the $48.5 million renovation, which is being funded by a hotel tax.
Construction will be divided into two phases, with the expanded seating and new boardwalk around the outfield perimeter being the most notable addition for fans attending spring training in 2014. In addition, the Twins’ minor league complex is being overhauled, with new fields and a year-round residential “dorm” added. Next winter, the concourses, concession stands and restrooms in Hammond Stadium will be upgraded, along with the clubhouses.
Lee County has been the Twins’ spring home since 1991, and the team, which contributed $6 million to the construction budget, has committed to remain for another 30 years.