PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Anibal Sanchez’s three-week career with the Twins came to an end Sunday morning, just a couple of hours before he was supposed to pitch against the Rays. As Sanchez gathered his equipment for the one-hour bus ride to Charlotte Sports Park, manager Paul Molitor called the veteran righthander into his office to tell him that the Twins were releasing him instead.

    The reason had nothing to do with how Sanchez pitched this spring, general manager Thad Levine said. It was about the Twins’ increasingly crowded roster, and particularly the impending signing of free agent righthander Lance Lynn. The Twins’ needed Sanchez’s roster spot, true, but the bigger issue was that they could no longer deliver the innings that they promised him when he signed.

    “When we signed him, we did not have Jake Ozorizzi, and we did not have something else in the pipeline,” said Levine, referring to Lynn without confirming his signing. “So really, the opportunity for real innings was dwindling. … We had represented an opportunity that was no longer there for him, so we wanted to give him every opportunity to get another chance with another big league team.”

    Sanchez pitched four innings in Grapefruit League play, shutting out Boston without allowing a hit for two innings on Feb. 27, but surrendering six runs on five hits against the Pirates on March 4.

    By releasing Sanchez on Sunday, the Twins owe the veteran one-sixth of his non-guaranteed $2.5 million contract, or $417,000. Had they waited until Monday, the termination pay would have risen to $625,000.

    With Sanchez out, Aaron Slegers gets the start today against the Rays, with Addison Reed and Zach Duke also scheduled to pitch. Here are the lineups:

TWINS

 

Mauer DH

Aybar SS

Escobar 2B

Sano 3B

Vargas 1B

Heisey LF

Granite CF

Garver C

LaMarre RF

 

Slegers RHP

 

RAYS

 

Johnson CF

Gomez RF

Duffy 3B

Cron 1B

Ramos C

Hechavarria SS

Wendle 2B

Sucre DH

Snyder LF

 

Faria RHP

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