Rocco Baldelli doesn't even like to say it, he finds the word so objectionable.
To the Twins manager, there's no such thing as a "closer."
"I just think of it as our guys getting prepared physically and upstairs, mentally, to finish a ballgame for us," Baldelli said. "Our guys are just ready to pitch."
The Twins pitching staff is basically set with Opening Day on Thursday. The starters will be Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ, with Randy Dobnak as a swingman who will begin in the bullpen.
That leaves Taylor Rogers, Hansel Robles, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey and Cody Stashak as sure bets for the bullpen. Lefthanders Caleb Thielbar and Brandon Waddell and righthander Derek Law are competing for the final spot.
Rogers had 30 saves in 2019, but the lefthander struggled during the 60-game 2020 season and ended up with nine saves after sharing closing duties with Sergio Romo late in the season.
Colome was signed as a free agent after being the White Sox closer for the past two seasons, saving 12 games in 2020 and 30 in 2019. The righthander was an All-Star in 2016 and had a league-high 47 saves for Tampa Bay the following year.
Robles had 23 saves for the Angels in 2019, but things went awry last year when he lost velocity and had a 10.26 ERA in the shortened season.
But Baldelli wasn't keen on singling out one closer or even marking the job as done "by committee."
"We've never really taken the step of naming a closer in the last couple of years, and I don't anticipate us doing that this year," Baldelli said. "Our guys have responded very well to being asked to throw in different situations. It does actually mean that we're going to have to have more conversations with our guys, and sometimes the players may have questions or things they want to talk about, which is always welcomed.
"But I think we ultimately are going to be more successful when our guys are not locked in to very specific roles."
Baldelli said there will be several pitchers he will lean on to finish the games late, and he appreciates the leeway that gives during the game.
Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said he's already considering how to manage the starters' loads in anticipation of the playoffs in October. That makes the bullpen "critical early on."
"They may take on some extra innings along the way and may need to help us as we go," Falvey said. "We've talked about six-man rotations. We've talked about what piggybacks look like for certain pitchers. … The depth of the bullpen that we break with is going to be important."
Dobnak said when the Twins first mentioned to him as being part of the bullpen, that was a new role, but he picked up the flexibility that role requires pretty quickly.
"Originally, I was like, I don't have all this time to warm up, long toss pregame, do all things you would do as a starter. So I kind of just talked to some of the guys in the bullpen," he said. "And throughout the game, you can kind of get a feel of how the game is going.
"Someone's struggling, you're going to want to start moving around, stretching a little bit, doing your weighted ball stuff. Do what you need to do to get ready."
Baldelli said he is excited to display his pitchers' unique skill sets against certain lineups.
And maybe catcher Ryan Jeffers had the best word to describe this bullpen: a "luxury."
"Not having one or two guys that have very specific roles, we have such flexibility back in that back end of the bullpen," he said. "I think there's a lot of selflessness between all those guys, too. No one's like, 'Hey, I've got to be the closer.' They're all in it for the team, and they're all ready to do whatever their job entails."