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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins option Jose Berrios to AAA; Tyler Duffey in line for rotation spot?

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jose Berrios was optioned to Class AAA Rochester on Saturday, perhaps ceding the fifth spot in the Twins’ starting rotation to righthander Tyler Duffey.

    Berrios appeared in only two Grapefruit League games this spring before departing for the World Baseball Classic, where he pitched only twice in nearly three weeks. The long layoff made it more difficult for him to be ready for the start of the regular season, and the Twins chose not to wait.

     “They just told me to go to the [minor-league] side and try to get ready for the season. They obviously think I need to work on my pitch count,” Berrios said through an interpreter. “What they’re trying to focus on is for me to be able to, every start, go out and throw from 90 to 100 pitches, and that’s what I think as well.”

    Berrios said he understood when he committed to play for Team Puerto Rico that it might complicate his chances of making the team, but he said he has no regrets. “Playing for Puerto Rico is an honor and makes me proud,” he said. “[The Twins]are my team, this is who drafted me and this is who I’m going to make it with. But you don’t get to play for Puerto Rico every year, and I understood that it might hurt my chances to make this team. But I wouldn’t change that. If I had to do it again, I would.”

    The Twins have made no commitment about their fifth starting spot, but optioning Berrios appears to mean that Duffey will emerge as the winner of the once-crowded competition for a starting spot, after he pitched impressively in a minor-league game Saturday morning against the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston’s Class AA affiliate. Duffey allowed only an unearned run in six innings, giving up five hits while striking out 10.

    “I felt really good. I got some good popups on changeups. Threw a lot of changeups today,” Duffey said. Catcher Chris Gimenez “and I got on the same page early, and we went after them working [inside] to the lefties and away from the righties with the sinker. I got a lot of [bad] swings on the changeup, out in front.”

    While Duffey was cruising, his chief competitor, Adalberto Mejia, was having far more difficulty on an adjacent field, giving up six runs in six innings against the  Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. The lefthander struck out six, but allowed a home run in a five-run second inning.

    Was he disappointed in his outing in such pressure-filled circumstances?

    “No, my mentality is to always be a big-league pitcher,” Mejia said. “But if I’m in the minors, I’m going to work to get back because I know I’ll get an opportunity to be with the big team.”

    There is no indication yet that Saturday’s outings convinced the Twins to end the competition, and Mejia has been the more consistent pitcher this spring, posting a 1.88 ERA in six games against major leaguers this spring, while Duffey has a 3.86 in five appearances. But chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, manager Paul Molitor, and pitching coach Neil Allen all attended the minor-league games at Boston’s JetBlue Park, keeping an eye on both pitchers.

    If Duffey is awarded the starting role, it would be a reversal of last season’s end-of-camp competition, when he was overtaken during the final two weeks of camp by lefthander Tommy Milone.

    That experience helped this year, Duffey said, “just because I realize what not to do. I came to work on things at spring training, like I’d been used to doing, and I learned very quickly that’s not the way to do it and I ended up in Rochester. [This year], I came in ready.”

XXX

    Meanwhile, the Twins are in Sarasota tonight for a 5 p.m. CT game with the Orioles that will not be televised. With more cuts expected as soon as Saturday, the lineup has the feel of a “last hurrah” for a few of the players in Minnesota’s lineup.

    Here are the batting orders:

TWINS

 

Shuck RF

Santana SS

Paulsen 1B

Hague DH

Castro C

Stubbs CF

Escobar 3B

Field LF

Adrianza SS

 

Santiago LHP

 

ORIOLES

 

Rickard LF

Smith RF

Machado 3B

Trumbo DH

Davis 1B

Hardy SS

Schoop 2B

Castillo C

Gentry CF

 

Ynoa RHP

Twins send Chargois to Rochester, and more cuts should be coming

The Twins on Friday optioned righthander J.T. Chargois to Class AAA Rochester, ending a rough spring for the bullpen prospect.

Chargois was one of the favorites to break camp with the major league team but simply didn't pitch well, giving up eight earned runs over 81/3 innings, including two home runs. Opponents batted .410 against him. It was bad enough that he fell behind hitters, but he remained fastball intensive when behind in the count. They also want him to work on holding runners on base better. 

Clearly, Chargois fumbled his opportunity.

The Twins now have 43 players in camp - a big number for this time of year. I would not be surprised if they make more cuts either after tonight's game or before tomorrow night's game in Sarasota.

The Puerto Rican Twins players arrived in the clubhouse this afternoon - some came straight from the airport. Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas are in the starting lineup. Hector Santiago hopes to last five innings or 75 pitches when he takes the mound tomorrow. With the Puerto Ricans back, the Twins can focus on getting their roster figured out before Opening Day.

Heard that Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Duffey will pitch in minor league games tomorrow. Duffey is listed as the starter tomorrow night but that is being changed so Santiago can face the Orioles. But Mejia and Duffey need to be stretched out, too. Don't give up on Duffey making the team, perhaps as a reliever.

Orioles

Ryan Flaherty, 2B
Paul Janish, SS
Pedro Alvarez, RF
Trey Mancini, 1B
Hyun Soo Kim, Lf
Chris Johnson, 3B
Chance Sisco, DH
Caleb Joseph, C
Aneury Tavarez, CF

Mike Wright, RHP

Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B
Max Kepler, RF
Byron Buxton, CF
Joe Mauer, 1B
Miguel Sano, 3B
Jason Castro, C
Jorge Polanco, SS
Kennys Vargas, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF

Ervin Santana, RHP