If the baseball season started today, Twins manager Paul Molitor likely would have righthander Trevor May pitch out of the bullpen.
That was the indication Molitor gave Tuesday during a conference call he and General Manager Terry Ryan with season-ticket holders and group sales organizers. May was 8-9 with a 4.00 ERA last season, but he put up a 2.87 ERA in 32 games as a reliever. That encouraged Molitor to keep May in the bullpen during the second half of the season, when the Twins desperately needed setup help.
With May, Kevin Jepsen, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins, the Twins would have a capable core group of relievers. But the Twins are not going to lock May in as a reliever just yet. He will report to spring training with the intentions of landing a spot in the rotation, because it’s easier to switch from starter to reliever than the other way around.
“We have six or seven names who will compete for that spots in the rotation,” Molitor said. “I thought he was a very valuable asset coming out of the bullpen in the late innings.”
Molitor then added: “Unless something changes, he is going to probably be a guy I want to keep out in the bullpen.”
Another fan wanted to know what is being done about Perkins, the All-Star closer who failed to stay healthy down the stretch for the second year in a row.
“Glen understands and has been frustrated by the fact that he has not been able to put together a full season,” Molitor said. “He is trying to address some of those issues, take care of that arm, take care of that body so he can be there the whole season.”
Center fielder Byron Buxton made his long-awaited Twins debut in 2015, but it was a lot like his 2014 season in the minors in that he missed considerable time because of injuries. He batted .209 in 46 major league games and looked overmatched at the plate frequently. That prompted one fan to ask when will the talent that made Buxton the top prospect in baseball start to show up.
“I may be mistaken, but I noticed a little edge in that question,” Molitor said. “I know there is a lot of hype for the No. 1 prospect in the minors. You have to remember in Buxton’s case he was injured this year and the previous year.
“We’re going to give this guy an opportunity here and I’m hoping he is ready to go. If not, then we will give him some at-bats in Triple-A. I think it is going to be a matter of time before we see him get established up here.”
When a follow-up question asked about Plan B if Buxton is not ready, Molitor mentioned Eddie Rosario, who has played center in the minors, and Danny Santana, who could make the team as a utility player.
Another fan wanted to know how much interest the team had in bringing back former Twins Craig Breslow and Denard Span, both of whom are available as free agents, as well as reliever Neal Cotts, who finished last season with the club and is a free agent.
“Those are legitimate names, people we need to keep an eye on,” Ryan said. “We have a little bit of depth when it comes to the outfield, but Span is still out there. He’s an interesting guy [but] he’s coming off of an injury plagued year, which is always a concern.
“We will always keep an eye on those type of pitchers [in Breslow and Cotts]. It’s amazing how many free agents are still out there.”