FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are five fewer pitchers in Twins camp this morning. Four of them were sent down the street to minor-league camp, and Ervin Santana headed to the airport.
Santana, the Twins' Opening Day starter, is en route to San Diego, where he will join the Dominican Republic national team for the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Santana had planned to skip the WBC this year, but when the team called over the weekend for pitching reinforcements, he was persuaded.
Santana's regular turn to pitch comes up Tuesday, so the timing works out well, even if it means a long cross-country flight. Santana will start Tuesday's game against Puerto Rico, which features his Twins teammates Jose Berrios, Hector Santiago, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario.
Meanwhile, the Twins reduced their camp roster by optioning lefthander Mason Melotakis to Class AAA Rochester and righthander Fernando Romero to Class AA Chattanooga. In addition, they reassigned a couple of pitchers not on the 40-man roster, lefthander Stephen Gonsalves and righthander Aaron Slegers, to minor-league camp.
None of the four pitchers were expected to make the Twins' 25-man roster, so the team decided it's time to get them more regular innings as they prepare for the minor-league season.
On the Hammond Stadium field today, the Twins will meet the Rays, with an interesting matchup on the mound: A pitcher the Twins acquired at the winter meetings facing one they tried to acquire at those meetings. Justin Haley, acquired by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft, makes his first start of the spring. He's facing Tampa Bay righthander Jose de Leon, whom Twins fans who followed the trade rumors this winter are well aware of. The Twins sought de Leon from the Dodgers during negotiations for Brian Dozier, but the teams never agreed on terms, and L.A. eventually shipped de Leon to Tampa Bay for Logan Forsythe.
Today's game is televised on Fox Sports North. Here are the lineups:
De Leon RHP