JUPITER, FLA. – Alex Meyer sped up his warm-up for his fourth- and-fifth-inning appearances Saturday, but the 25-year-old righthander said he's adapting well to coming out of the bullpen this spring. His manager reiterated, however, that it's only a temporary necessity.
"I would say the odds on [Meyer pitching in relief] are pretty long. We want to build him up to start," Paul Molitor said before Meyer's two-inning scoreless stint during the Twins' 6-3 victory over St. Louis on Saturday. "The majority of our people think he should be starting. … Getting him stretched out to fill a starting spot, one way or another, is probably the right thing right now."
"One way or another" is likely a euphemism for "in the majors or Triple-A," since there is only one spot available in the Twins' rotation — and Meyer is one of five candidates for it.
Meyer said he hasn't thought about a bullpen role, other than to adjust his preparation since he's come in after the starter in his two appearances so far. "I don't think anybody has talked about [the bullpen] too much. Everybody talks about the fifth starter, and there's a lot of guys who are going for it," Meyer said. "They don't want anybody thinking too much into it. … Get people out, they'll find a spot for you somewhere."
Robinson back 'home'
As a nonroster invitee to spring camp, Shane Robinson remains fairly anonymous to Twins fans. But he's a returning hero in Roger Dean Stadium.
The 7,009 Cardinals fans in attendance Saturday gave Robinson a loud and lengthy ovation when he stepped to the plate in the second inning, a recognition of his five seasons in a St. Louis uniform that admittedly surprised the 30-year-old outfielder.
"It was a really nice gesture on the Cardinal fans' part, and I'm really grateful," Robinson said. "I was a little surprised at how loud things were, but it made me feel real good."
Robinson wasn't the only one impressed by the applause.
"It was nice to see. It was nice for him, but it was kind of a nice reflection on Cardinal baseball fans," Molitor said. "He was a part of some really good memories. I like to see those kind of things, and the Cardinals fans are as good as anybody at doing that."
Twins closer Glen Perkins threw "20 [or] 25 pitches" in a bullpen session Saturday morning with no pain in his right side, raising the possibility that he could face major-league hitters later this week.
"He'll throw probably another bullpen on Tuesday," Molitor said, "and if everything goes well, hopefully we'll see him in a game by the end of the week."
That's a relief to the Twins and Perkins, who hasn't felt comfortable on the mound since experiencing pain in his right oblique while warming up on March 6 and again three days later. After resting the injury for several days, Perkins threw on flat ground Friday, then moved to a mound Saturday.
"There was no problem today," the 32-year-old lefthander said as he left the bullpen in Fort Myers. "I didn't cut loose completely, although I did let it go more the last few pitches. I'm optimistic that I can get back on schedule here."
The Twins complete a back-to-back weekend series with the Cardinals on Sunday, this time in their home ballpark. Kyle Gibson will face St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez in the noon start, which will be televised by Fox Sports North.