FORT MYERS, FLA. – A handful of Twins minor leaguers were able to say they played for Team USA on Wednesday, but not Stephen Gonsalves.
Gonsalves, the reigning Twins minor league pitcher of the year, has been slowed because of shoulder soreness that forced the Twins to take him off the list of prospects to be used as extra players for Team USA on Wednesday as it prepares for the World Baseball Classic.
The Twins hope Gonsalves’ injury is minor. He reported some discomfort after his outing Friday, and the club wants to be careful because Gonsalves missed three weeks of Arizona Fall League action last year because of a sore shoulder. He played long toss Wednesday and felt good.
“He feels OK,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “ He had a little posterior tenderness after his last outing. We’re just kind of making sure before we put him back out there. They tested his arm strength, and it was down.”
Gonsalves was 13-5 with a 2.06 ERA between Class A Fort Myers and Class AA Chattanooga. He has thrown 3⅓ scoreless innings so far this spring, impressing the coaching staff.
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New Twins catcher Jason Castro has worked with the Twins pitchers in the bullpen but hasn’t yet worked with everyone in games, particularly the starters.
Molitor pointed out Wednesday that Castro already has worked three games with Kyle Gibson. A look at the pitching logs shows that he’s worked with Ervin Santana twice and Jose Berrios and Ryan Vogelsong once each.
That means he hasn’t caught Tyler Duffey, Phil Hughes and Hector Santiago in a game yet, so the Twins are going to make sure Castro is lined up with those pitchers in the coming days.
Santiago will have to wait a bit, because he’s pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC.
“It hasn’t been as distributed as evenly as I thought it would be at this point,” Molitor said, “But we still have a lot of time to pay a little more attention to that. We’re going try to spread that out a little bit.”
Castro worked with starter Trevor May on Wednesday for the second time this spring.
• Twins trainer Lanning Tucker almost landed in the WBC as one of the trainers for Team China. He received a message from the team the day after Thanksgiving, got clearance from Twins officials and was looking forward to meeting the team in Tokyo for pool play. But he was notified in early January that China decided to bring two of its own trainers. “It would have been exciting, going to Tokyo and all that, for the experience,” Tucker said. “But this is huge, too, getting us ready for the season.”
• Lefthander Mason Melotakis, working his way back from a right oblique strain, will throw live batting practice Thursday.
WBC week continues at Hammond Stadium as the Twins play host to Team Colombia at 12:05 p.m. Twins minor leaguers Yohan Pino and Reynaldo Rodriguez are on Colombia’s roster. Ervin Santana will make his third start of the spring while righthander Erling Moreno starts for Colombia.
la velle e. neal iii