WASHINGTON — Phil Hughes is headed to the disabled list to open the season, with a strained oblique on his left side, Twins manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday. Hughes’ absence means both lefthander Gabriel Moya and righthander Tyler Kinley have claimed bullpen spots, at least for now.
Hughes, who hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since last July 14, remained in Fort Myers, but his scheduled minor-league start on Tuesday was cancelled so he can get treatment on his oblique, which became sore shortly after his start last Thursday. The Twins had planned for Hughes (pictured) to serve as the fifth starter during Ervin Santana’s absence, and they won’t need one until April 11. It’s possible the veteran righthander can return by then, Molitor said.
“You’d have to think it’s still in the mix, at least to try,” the manager said. “We can’t force it if he’s not ready. But we’ll see when he is able to pitch in a game again.”
Moya made the team, despite never having pitched in Triple-A, off a strong spring, in which he allowed only one run in 11 innings. Kinley is similarly inexperienced at the highest levels, but displayed a fastball near 100 mph in camp. As a Rule 5 pick, the Twins have to keep Kinley on their roster all season, or offer him back to the Marlins.
The Twins still have one more cut to make — choosing two backup outfielders from a trio of Robbie Grossman, Zack Granite and Ryan LaMarre — but Molitor said it will wait until after the game.
Jose Berrios will throw roughly 50 pitches today, assuming the threatening skies don’t deliver rain, and then the team will catch a plane for their opening day destination. Wait — the Nationals will catch a plane, not the Twins. In an odd bit of scheduling, the Nationals are playing this exhibition game in their home park, then flying to Cincinnati for the 2018 opener. The Twins will simply bus up the parkway to Baltimore, where they will work out tomorrow and open the season on Thursday.
Here are today’s lineups:
Berrios RHP, then Hildenberger, Rogers, Moya.