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Minnesota Twins pitcher Ramon Ortiz watches his first inning warm-up pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies in their spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Sunday, March 25, 2007.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens,

Twins roster moves loom

  • Article by: Staff reports
  • March 25, 2007 - 10:47 PM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he planned to meet with his staff this morning to set up his starting rotation for the remainder of spring.

Which might mean setting up his rotation for the beginning of the season.

With six games remaining in spring training, Gardenhire said he would like to make final roster decisions in the next two or three days.

He'll need to decide whether Carlos Silva or Matt Garza will make the rotation; who the backup shortstop will be; whether the team needs to make a trade to fill that need; whether pitching prospect J.D. Durbin will make the team or be exposed to waivers; and whether the team will carry 11 or 12 pitchers.

Luis Rodriguez and Jeff Cirillo, neither a natural shortstop, have started two of the Twins' last three games at shortstop. The closer the Twins get to the regular season, the more Gardenhire speaks of Rodriguez as a viable option as a backup shortstop, even though Rodriguez lacks ideal range.

"He can play shortstop," Gardenhire said. "He'll catch the ball and make the right plays."

Cirillo, 37, never started a game at shortstop in the big leagues until the Brewers used him there last season.

INJURY UPDATE

Gardenhire said he was beginning to worry about third baseman Nick Punto's hip flexor injury until he spoke to team trainers Sunday. "The trainers came in today and said he felt better," Gardenhire said. "I was a little nervous. Same thing with our catcher."

Catcher Joe Mauer, suffering from a stress reaction in his left leg, reportedly also was better.

"He's doing good, ready to go," Gardenhire said. "Probably by Wednesday, he'll be back out there, and hopefully Punto will, too."

THE QUOTE

Asked whether he needs to see better starting pitching this week to feel comfortable about his rotation, Gardenhire said:

"You always hope so. But you never know what's going to happen. Last year, they were lights out going out of spring training, and look how we started. So I'm trying not to put as much stock in it as we did. Last year, the guys had their best springs, and then we go into the season and look where we started.

"I think that's all a little overblown. I just want to see guys go into the season with confidence and ready to go out and compete and have their arm strength. We'll go from there."

WHO'S HOT

First baseman Justin Morneau asked to make the long ride to Clearwater on Sunday to see live pitching. He went 1-for-3, including a lineout to first, and has hit in eight of his past nine games, batting .429 in that time. He's at .327 for the spring and leads the team with 12 RBI.

WHO'S NOT

Torii Hunter struck out twice while going 0-for-3; he's hitting .295 for the spring.

WHO'S NEXT

The Twins play three in a row at home starting today, as Sidney Ponson faces Baltimore's Adam Loewen at 12:05 p.m. in Fort Myers.

The Twins' game on Tuesday against the Yankees will be televised by ESPN, starting at noon.

JIM SOUHAN

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