The Twins don’t mind making hard roster decisions. They just prefer it would be between players having strong camps.
No one is emerging in battles for roster spots, leading to a blunt assessment from assistant general manager Rob Antony.
“I wish some guys would step up and earn a job,” Antony said. “No one is really doing that. All these guys who are in competition. [Aaron] Hicks hasn’t been anything special this spring. Neither has [Alex] Presley in center field. So there’s your center-field battle.”
Hicks is batting .286 with a home run and three RBI. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and a bloop single on Wednesday. Presley is batting .161 and is 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts.
Antony moved on to the race for the final spot in the starting rotation. While Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno have pitched well, Antony pointed out that Vance Worley is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA this spring while Scott Diamond is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA.
Antony continued on the competition for bench spots.
“[Jason] Kubel hasn’t been very good,” Antony said. “I think he’s got a hit [actually two] all spring. [Jason] Bartlett is hitless. [Eduardo] Escobar has had defensive lapses and made mistakes in the field. So these are the guys battling for a utility spot, so it’s hard to get excited and say, ‘This is our guy,’ when no one is doing particularly well.”
Antony spoke before Bartlett got his first hit of the spring Wednesday, a hard single to right during a hit-and-run in the sixth inning that drove in the Twins’ lone run in a 3-1 loss to the Cardinals. But Antony’s disappointment was obvious as he calls for someone to step up.
Antony’s comments came during a discussion about the differences in opinion that pop up between managers and the front office at this time of year. For instance, Gardenhire is pushing for Bartlett.
Gardenhire was asked if a manager should worry about things GMs worry about, such as who is out of options. The Twins have eight such players in camp.
“I understand all that stuff,” he said. “Options are deceiving because if you are out of options that means you had chances, you had lots of opportunities. They are deceiving. They don’t deceive me. They are in my way, let’s put it that way.”
That was relayed to Antony, who chuckled.
“Sometimes that’s the case,” Antony said. “Sometimes there’s another case, like when Michael Cuddyer is out of options, Josh Willingham is out of options right now. Justin Morneau was out of options. A lot of good players end up out of options because it took them three years to get going.”
Top prospect Byron Buxton remains sidelined because of a sprained left wrist suffered Sunday after diving for a ball. Brad Steil, Twins director of minor league operations, said Buxton is considered day to day.
Lefthander Diamond will start for the Twins on Thursday while lefthander Cesar Ramos starts for Tampa Bay. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. in Port Charlotte, Fla.
La Velle E. Neal III