The team will be asking a lot of Francisco Liriano. He's a rookie, the only lefthanded reliever and a newcomer to the bullpen.
FORT MYERS, FLA. - Forget the concept of bringing a young pitcher along slowly.
The Twins have seemingly adopted a new slogan: In Francisco We Trust.
They cut veteran lefthander Dennys Reyes from their spring roster Wednesday, meaning Francisco Liriano will open the season as their only lefthanded reliever.
Barring an unforeseen change, the 11-man pitching staff is set. The Reyes move cleared a path for both Liriano and fellow rookie Willie Eyre to make the team as relievers.
"This is the way we feel is the best way to go right now," said Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, who had been openly reluctant to use Liriano in the bullpen instead of letting him gain experience at Class AAA Rochester.
With Scott Baker on his way to securing the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire lobbied to have Liriano in the bullpen and got his wish.
"I think we're all confident that this young man is a pretty special guy," Ryan said. "I hope we can give him enough work. That'd be the only reservation I have."
Gardenhire said the team is still exploring potential waiver moves and trade options, so he didn't want to formally name his 11-man pitching staff.
Nonetheless, the team seems poised to open the season with a starting rotation of: Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse and Baker.
And the bullpen looks like this: Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Liriano and Eyre.
The Twins brought Reyes to camp with a minor league deal, hoping he might help them replace J.C. Romero, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in December.
Reyes posted a 1.59 ERA in four appearances after returning from the World Baseball Classic. But the Twins were frustrated with his troubles holding runners on base.
They assigned Reyes to minor league camp, giving him two days to accept the assignment or become a free agent.
"I was shocked because at the beginning, they told me to throw strikes, and I had a pretty good chance to make the team," Reyes said. "I think I did my job. I threw well. I don't think I got a fair shot. I'm disappointed."
It was a bold decision for the Twins because it left them without an experienced lefthanded matchup specialist, which they've had in recent years with Romero and Terry Mulholland.
"I think Liriano can match up with anybody, to tell you the truth," Gardenhire said. "He's in line with the way we used Romero. It's not just one inning [at a time]. And if we want to match him up with a tough lefty, I think he'll be fine."
Ryan said with the three pitchers at the back of the bullpen -- Nathan, Crain and Rincon -- he's not overly concerned with lefthanded matchups.
Nathan held lefthanded hitters to a .158 average last season, Rincon .218 and Crain .209.
|Philadelphia - K. Kendrick||6:05 PM|
|Washington - J. Zimmermann|
|Baltimore - C. Tillman||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - S. Nolin|
|Minnesota - S. Deduno||6:08 PM|
|Detroit - A. Sanchez|
|Atlanta - K. Medlen||6:10 PM|
|NY Mets - J. Hefner|
|Chicago Cubs - S. Feldman||6:10 PM|
|Cincinnati - B. Arroyo|
|Cleveland - J. Masterson||6:10 PM|
|Boston - J. Lackey|
|NY Yankees - D. Phelps||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - R. Hernandez|
|Pittsburgh - A. Burnett||7:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - M. Estrada|
|Miami - T. Koehler||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - J. Danks|
|LA Angels - J. Vargas||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - L. Mendoza|
|Oakland - T. Milone||7:10 PM|
|Houston - E. Bedard|
|San Diego - E. Stults||8:40 PM|
|Arizona - B. McCarthy|
|St. Louis - L. Lynn||9:10 PM|
|Los Angeles - C. Capuano|
|Texas - J. Grimm||9:10 PM|
|Seattle - J. Saunders|
|Colorado - T. Chatwood||9:15 PM|
|San Francisco - T. Lincecum|
Poll: Who should be the next Twins starting pitcher to lose his job?