FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins on Thursday cut six players from camp. Righthander Kyle Gibson and lefthander Caleb Thielbar were optioned to Class AAA Rochester. Catchers Kyle Knudson and Danny Lehmann, righthander Anthony Slama and infielder James Beresford were assigned to the minor league camp.
Thielbar, a former St. Paul Saint and South Dakota State Jackrabbit who is a native of Randolph, Minn., gave up six earned runs in 4⅓ innings.
“When you send guys out, they always think, ‘OK, what do I have to do?’ ” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “Well, they pretty much dictate their future. If they go down and dominate their Triple-A team we’re going to probably say, ‘OK, you forced our hand, we’ve got to do something here.’ You’ll be the first or second guy we call. Last year, we didn’t go 10 days without having to go down there, I don’t think.”
Slama, 29, needed a big camp to open eyes but walked five batters in 2⅓ innings
“He’s got to go down and start throwing the ball over the plate,” Ryan said. “He had a little trouble doing that here, and that happens. He’ll be all right.”
Knudson, a former Gophers player, Lehmann and Beresford weren’t expected to make the team.
Joe Benson was having a miserable camp but is turning things around, going 4-for-6 over his past two games. On Thursday, he was 3-for-4 with a double and a walk.
He was constantly ahead in the count and put good swings on pitches during each of his at-bats.
“You can see it in the way he’s going about his business,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s confident. Hopefully, he can stay that way.”
The Italian team that included first baseman Chris Colabello and Drew Butera was knocked out of the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday by Puerto Rico. Colabello and Butera returned to camp on Thursday and will travel with the team to play Boston on Friday night.
Ryan cracked everyone up as he confirmed that Colabello and Butera were back in camp.
“Who’s the Italians?” Ryan joked. “A guy from Massachusetts [Colabello] and a guy from Florida [Butera].”
• The announced attendance of 8,195 Thursday was the Twins’ first sellout of the spring season at Hammond Stadium. Before Thursday, the Twins had been drawing 6,475 a game, down from 7,344 last year.
• Boston righthander Terry Doyle, who was in camp with the Twins last year, gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits and a walk over 2⅔ innings.
• Pedro Florimon was 2-for-4 on Thursday, including a bunt single, raising his spring average to .242.
The Twins head down the street to play the Red Sox in a 6:05 p.m. start Friday. Righthander Liam Hendriks will start for the Twins and face Red Sox lefthander Felix Doubront.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III