Battle for last spot in Twins rotation heats up

  • Updated: March 18, 2014 - 12:16 AM
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Twins starting candidate Samuel Deduno

Photo: Steven Senne, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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– The auditions for the Twins final rotation spot will take center stage the next few days.

Phil Hughes will throw 75 pitches in a Class A game on Tuesday, and Mike Pelfrey will face Class AAA hitters a day later. Meanwhile, each of the four candidates to join them in the rotation will get a chance to make his case on the major league mound.

Vance Wor­ley is now set to start against the Rays on Tuesday. Kyle Gibson will start Wednesday in Jupiter, Fla., against the Cardinals, and Sam Deduno will follow him to the mound. Scott Diamond gets Thursday’s start against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

“We hope they all pitch really well and make it really, really hard to make our decisions,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Deduno has been the most impressive of the four so far, allowing one run and five hits in his four appearances thus far. “Sam, as far as dominating hitters, has probably been as good as anybody” on the team, Gardenhire said. “... Sammy’s been unhittable, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Twins, however, are likely to wait until next week to make any decisions, partly because Deduno, Diamond and Worley are out of options and could be claimed off waivers if the Twins try to send them to the minor leagues.

“The longer you wait, the more teams get settled. ... It’s harder for teams to all of a sudden just drop what they’ve got, [so] you might get them through and keep the people we want to keep.”

No bus ride needed

The Twins’ game with Baltimore, scheduled for Monday night in Sarasota, Fla., was canceled by a thunderstorm just before the Twins were about to board buses for the two-hour ride. It will not be rescheduled.

Kevin Correia got his work in anyway. Anticipating the storm, the Twins told Correia to show up Monday morning and pitch for Class AAA Rochester in an intra-system game against Class AA New Britain. He did, throwing 64 pitches over five innings, with one run and five strikeouts.

Afterward, Correia declared himself ready for the start of the season. “Obviously there’s a couple of things to tighten up here or there, but I could throw five strong innings right now,” he said. He will pitch six or seven innings in his next start, Saturday against the Yankees, and should have his pitch count up to 90 by Opening Day.

Injury update

Outfielder Byron Buxton sat out Monday’s minor league game after diving for a ball the day before. He woke up with a sore elbow, but it’s not considered serious.

Pedro Florimon was scheduled to make his spring debut in the rained-out game in Sarasota, but Gardenhire said the Twins shortstop, who had an appendectomy last month, would be back in the lineup Tuesday.

“He’s champing at the bit,” Gardenhire said. “He was more [angry] than most. He wanted to play.”

On deck

The Twins play their final night home game, with Tampa Bay arriving at Hammond Stadium for the 6 p.m. Central time start. Worley will start for the Twins.

PHIL MILLER

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