DUNEDIN, FLA. - Pat Neshek, who was falling out of the race for a spot in the bullpen, was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
It ends Neshek's five-year run with the club, where the former Park Center High School athlete used his funky sidearm motion to baffle some of the most feared hitters in the game. But he's still trying to find that form following Tommy John elbow surgery before the 2009 season.
That search will continue with the Padres, who are looking for bullpen help.
Neshek beat the Twins to the masses with news of the move when he posted on Twitter, "I just got news that I am now a member of the San Diego Padres, packing up & heading west."
Twins General Manager Bill Smith didn't appear to be upset with Neshek's actions and said the righthander is not leaving the team on bad terms. Neshek did upset the coaching staff last year when he second-guessed the team's medical staff on Twitter.
"He has made strides," Smith said. "His velocity continues to creep up a little. It's still a work in progress for him. He's going to have a couple guys ahead of him ... to be one of the best 12 [pitchers] -- or one of the best seven on the relief side.
"We have some other guys who have pitched well and moved ahead of him on the depth chart."
The Twins signed Neshek to a $625,000 contract during the offseason, so they felt at the time he could be an asset. But while posting a 4.26 ERA in six spring outings, he gave up three solo homers in 6 1/3 innings.
Had Neshek cleared waivers, the Twins would have had the option of sending him to the minors. Now they have his salary off the books for 2011.
But the Twins already had an option left on Neshek. Exposing him to waivers shows how much he's fallen behind other pitchers in camp.
"He's certainly much better off going to the Padres and competing for a spot out there," Smith said.
Smith wouldn't comment on if the club tried to deal Neshek before Sunday.
The move gives the Twins flexibility. Their 40-man roster now has an opening, giving them room to add a pitcher such as righthander Kyle Waldrop or righthander Carlos Gutierrez. Gutierrez probably needs more polish and is the more likely of the two to start the season in the minors.
Another righthanded reliever in camp, Jeff Manship, gave up a two-run homer to Travis Snider on Sunday during the Twins' 3-0 loss to Toronto.
"We need roster spots," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's why we were trying to clear one. We could have put [Neshek] back on if we needed. But we needed to [clear a] roster spot to have one available if we keep one of these guys who aren't on the roster."