La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins tweaking the roster earlier for a change

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 21, 2014 - 6:19 AM

Good morning! Headed to the airport to catch a flight to Tampa for the Twins-Rays series but wanted to check in with some thoughts on what's going on with recent Twins roster moves.

I'll check back in tomorrow from The Trop, where the Twins and Rays will meet for three games,


Sam Fuld is in the fold and will join the Twins before Tuesday's game against the Rays.

One move down.

Eduardo Nunez has a minor oblique strain but should be called up soon - although the injury can be nagging, and the Twins have underestimated of their. ``day-to-day" announcements in the past.

That's another move to come.

And there could be move adjustments to the roster as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is looking for right combination of players. Assistant GM Rob Antony and other officials are all over the transaction wires, looking to see if a player discarded  by another team fits what they are looking for.

``We aren't finished,'' Gardenhire said. ``We're going to get better. We're going to continue to get better. We're going to keep changing around until we get what we want and get a feel for what we want off the bench. How we can move people around. And we are still working on it. People are falling through the cracks and were taking the guys we want and letting the others go.
``It's about getting better and winning games.''

Then Gardy dropped this one:

``This group right here can hit. If we keep getting better and get some bench strength where we can move some people around instead of the same thing every day, we can get better.''

My, how things have changed. The manager was seriously worried about the offense during spring training. But the season began, and the at-bats have improved. The Twins walked eight more times on Sunday and have 95 on the season. And they are scoring some runs while Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia mend sore wrists. There are legitimate signs (mainly the walks and quality at-bats) that the offense will be functional this season. But Gardenhire is like most managers. He likes options, and it looks like he's going to tinker with some things now and worry about Willingham and Arcia coming off the DL later.

The Twins hoped to avoid designating Darin Mastroianni for assignment. They hoped they could get Jason Bartlett's retirement paperwork done in time to get his 40-man roster spot back, but they ran out of time. They were awarded Fuld at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday and had to make a move then.

But it means that they will get that 40-man spot in the next few days. So they could use it to claim another player or call someone up from the minors who's not on the roster.

The Twins are making moves earlier in the season than they usually do, a sign of players being held more accountable. They feel that Fuld is an upgrade over Mastroianni and Nunez will be an offensive upgrade over Pedro Florimon. The shortstop position is a key defensive position, but you can't have people batting .214 - Florimon's career batting average -  in the daily lineup.

They are not sitting back and waiting like they have in recent seasons.

``We had three years to make adjustments,'' Gardenhire said. ``Now it's time. Everyone is tired of watching that other stuff. I'm tired of it. You're tired of it. The fans are tired of it. We see something we like, go get it.''

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