FORT MYERS, FLA. – Even new Commissioner Rob Manfred has heard about Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.
“The buzz around baseball is that the Twins have a great farm system,” Manfred said Friday after introducing himself to the team’s current players in a morning clubhouse meeting. “Paul Molitor is going to be a great manager, and I’m sure you will see the Twins’ talent mature in the same way you have seen in a market like Pittsburgh.”
Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig last month, made Hammond Stadium the latest stop in his get-to-know-me tour of spring camps, and said he discussed issues such as the new pace-of-game rules and better marketing of MLB players with the Twins. He also met with Twins owner Jim Pohlad, whom he appointed, like Selig before him, to his executive council.
“Jim had been on the council. He was one of two owners from the prior group that I asked to stay on,” Manfred said. “That’s because it was my view that Jim had always been a great contributor, and I thought he was the ideal person to bring some continuity to the group.”
Pohlad and his family will soon become partners in Minneapolis’ new MLS franchise, an arrangement that Manfred said was fine with MLB.
“We’ve always been liberal on the topic of cross-ownership,” the commissioner said. “I have little doubt that the Pohlad family and Jim’s first priority will always be Major League Baseball.”
Hughes is ticked off
Phil Hughes looked awfully annoyed. A Class A prospect for Tampa Bay named Jake Bauers had just socked a two-run homer off him, and the Twins’ Opening Day starter — who admitted he didn’t even know the batter’s name — didn’t like it.
“I felt like I threw him a good backdoor cutter he fouled off, threw him a good fastball out there that he fouled off, and then I threw him a terrible curveball,” Hughes said after a six-inning, 69-pitch start for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle. “So I was a little ticked. I get mad in bullpens, so you know I’ll get fired up for minor league games.”
Hughes gave up five hits and three runs, while striking out seven and walking none.
• Righthander Lester Oliveros was outrighted off the 40-man roster and cleared waivers. That opens a spot that is expected to go to reliever Blaine Boyer, who can opt out of his one-year contract Monday if he is not on the roster. Outfielder Shane Robinson has the same contract clause, so a decision must be made soon on him.
• Molitor said that in addition to revealing who will be the fifth starter, other moves will be announced Saturday. “It won’t be the 25-man [roster],” he said, but “it will be close.”
He also reiterated that “I’m not considering” taking more than 12 pitchers north next month, so the bullpen will have seven members.
• Catcher Josmil Pinto “went through all the exercises today without any problems,” General Manager Terry Ryan said, so he will return to action once MLB clears him, per the game’s concussion protocols. That’s expected to be in the next day or so. Pinto, who was hit on the head by a bat Sunday, will play minor league games at first.
Ervin Santana faces the Phillies at Hammond Stadium on Saturday, against Jerome Williams. Closer Glen Perkins is scheduled to pitch an inning.