The Twins will consider five or six pitchers for the final two spots in their starting rotation this spring, and at least twice that many contenders for a couple of bullpen vacancies. Trevor May isn’t the only tall righthander wondering which competition he’ll be a part of.
So which roster-spot lottery do you plan to enter, Alex Meyer?
“I really don’t know. There are too many uncertainties right now,” the 26-year-old righthander said Sunday. “I have an open mind about everything. I just want to be the best pitcher I can be.”
The Twins wouldn’t mind that, either, since as recently as one year ago, Meyer was considered Minnesota’s top pitching prospect. But after he failed to make the major league roster last March, Meyer embarked on a roller-coaster season that has left his future, and his role, in doubt.
Meyer hasn’t started a game at any level since May 19, when his ERA at Class AAA Rochester ballooned to 7.07 and prompted the Twins to move him to the bullpen. He appeared in two major league games in June but gave up five runs and recorded only eight outs, then didn’t get another look in September.
“We still know how talented he is. Nobody here has given up on Alex or believes he can’t be a success in the big leagues,” manager Paul Molitor said. “There are a lot of things we have to sort out in camp, and Alex will be a part of that. I can’t say right now which way it’ll go, but if he pitches the way we’ve seen him before, it’s not hard to find a spot.”
That’s because Meyer possesses a fastball that can reach 98 mph, and the stamina to throw it for several innings. He’s a former first-round pick who was acquired for Denard Span three years ago, so the Twins aren’t likely to give up on him. But his 6-8 frame makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery, and his confidence sometimes wavers.
For now, Meyer is preparing for anything. After all, he said, being in a major league bullpen is better than being in a Class AAA rotation.
“I enjoyed relieving last year. Starting is what I’ve done my whole life, but mostly I just want to get back on the mound,” he said. He’s training the same way he does every offseason, he said, except for taking time off in November to get married.
“I’m using the same throwing program. I haven’t been relieving long enough to know what to change,” Meyer said. “Obviously I wonder what they have in mind, but I’m just looking forward to turning the page.”
TwinsFest attendance topped 15,000 over three days, including a virtual sellout on Saturday, the first time in its three-season run at Target Field that it’s cleared 14,000, team President Dave St. Peter said. That raised a little more than $300,000, St. Peter estimates, for the Twins Community Fund.
But it’s hard for the Twins not to daydream about tripling those numbers — which they consider possible if they move the event back across downtown to U.S. Bank Stadium. More than 35,000 fans attended TwinsFest 2007 in the Metrodome.
“As we return to hopefully being competitive on an annual basis, we could outgrow Target Field in a hurry,” St. Peter said of the January event. “That square footage would give us a chance to expand it again.”
He’ll meet with officials of the new football stadium soon to discuss whether it’s feasible, what dates might be available, what the rent might be. But there’s a big hangup that may delay any such move for a couple of years: Super Bowl LII, scheduled for Feb. 4, 2018, figures to make the building unavailable for weeks leading up to it.
“We’re not sure we want to move it [next] year, only to move it back again in 2018,” St. Peter said. “We’ve reserved dates at Target Field for next year, but we’ll discuss it further.”
Talkin ' baseball?
Eduardo Escobar, native of Venezuela, chatted with South Korean slugger Byung Ho Park in the Twins clubhouse on Sunday. What language did the new teammates speak? Shrugged Escobar, “I don’t know.”