The process of winnowing the Twins' 40-man roster began Wednesday with the outright assignment of three pitchers and an outfielder to Class AAA Rochester.
Righthanders Josh Roenicke, Cole De Vries and Shairon Martis were demoted to the Red Wings, along with outfielder Clete Thomas, reducing the Twins' roster to 36.
Roenicke, a waiver pickup last winter from Colorado, was the only one of the four to spend all season in Minnesota, and he posted a 4.35 ERA with one save in 62 innings in the Twins' bullpen. But the 31-year-old veteran slumped in September, allowing runs in each of his final six appearances. By being outrighted after having accumulated three years of service time -- he's played for four major-league teams over six seasons -- Roenicke can elect to become a free agent. Had he remained on the roster, he was eligible for arbitration.
Thomas was promoted from Rochester in early June, and eventually became the Twins' regular center fielder once Aaron Hicks was injured, and then sent down at the end of July. But his playing time was reduced significantly after the Twins acquired Alex Presley in the Justin Morneau trade with Pittsburgh. Thomas, 29, batted .214 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 92 games, though he did not drive in a run in 49 games after July 28.
De Vries, 28, is a University of Minnesota alum who was injured in spring training and appeared in only four games for the Twins, posting a 10.80 ERA. Martis, 26, had a 5.59 ERA in six games.