It’s written down in pencil, not pen. But righthander Phil Hughes will be the Twins’ starting pitcher on Opening Day.
Twins manager Paul Molitor made the announcement, somewhat reluctantly, after Monday’s workout.
“I don’t know if there’s really any urgency to try to make any of those things public,” Molitor said. “I see the announcements every spring: ‘Such-and-such was named Opening Day starter.’ If that’s newsworthy, then so be it. I don’t think too many people would be surprised, if Phil Hughes has a healthy spring, that he starts our first game.”
Last year, Hughes, in his first season of a three-year, $24 million contract, went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA and was the best thing going on a woeful Twins starting rotation.
The Twins signed Hughes to a five-year, $58 million contract extension during the offseason.
This would be Hughes’ first Opening Day start. It would make sense that Ervin Santana would be the No. 2 starter, but Molitor wasn’t going there yet.
“Ah, let’s just go with Phil for 1, and we’ll see what happens,” Molitor said.
Hughes would be the fourth Opening Day starter for the Twins in the past four seasons. Ricky Nolasco started the game last year. Before that, it was Vance Worley (2013) and Carl Pavano (2012).
Year off for Gardy
Ron Gardenhire is welcome to work for the Twins, General Manager Terry Ryan said, but the former manager has told the team he plans to take the year off. Gardenhire is under contract for this year.
Ryan said the Twins would give permission if another organization asked to speak with Gardenhire, who managed the team from 2002 through last season.
Bringing the heat
The only Twins pitcher to throw a fastball at least 97 miles per hour last season — easily the league low for a team — was righthander Lester Oliveros during a September call-up.
It was a decent end to the season for Oliveros, who returned to the mound following Tommy John elbow surgery the year before.
But Oliveros ran into shoulder trouble during the offseason after pitching only 10 innings for Caribes of the Venezuelan winter league and had to be shut down. Oliveros rehabbed his shoulder the rest of the offseason and said he is “ready,” adding that his “shoulder is good.”
The list of position players in camp is lengthy. Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana, Miguel Sano, Jordan Schafer, Torii Hunter, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks were part of a group that worked out on a back field at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
2014 stats: 2-4, 3.89 ERA for Class AA New Britain, one scoreless inning for Class AAA Rochester.
Acquired: 13th-round pick in 2010 out of Merrimack College.
Role: Reliever at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? O’Rourke was 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA for Aguilas of the Venezuelan winter league; he gave up a single to Margarita’s Aaron Hicks in one game, and Hicks came around to score the winning run.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III