FORT MYERS, FLA. — The Twins made their first cuts of spring training Friday when they optioned righthander Kohl Stewart and lefthanders Andrew Vasquez and Lewis Thorpe to Class AAA Rochester, then reassigned outfielders Luke Raley, Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker and catcher Ben Rortvedt to the minor league camp.
Stewart, 24, might be the biggest surprise of the group, as the 2013 first-round draft pick was called up during the second half of the season and posted a 3.68 ERA over eight appearances. He gave up four earned runs over 6⅔ innings in spring training games.
The other players had little chance of making the team.
“For a lot of the guys, it’s really about preparing for their seasons as major league camp gets going,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
There could be more cuts over the next few days as starters get stretched out and pitch deeper into games.
Berrios mixes pitches
Jose Berrios will be 24 years old when he takes the mound Opening Day against the Indians. He’ll be the youngest Twin to start the opener since 23-year-old Brad Radke in 1996.
On Friday, it was understandable why Berrios has received the assignment. He held the Rays to one run over three innings before weakening in the fourth and getting charged with a second run.
“Early on I thought it was exceptionally hot and humid out there, so [it was important] to get out there and pitch, pitch well and get a little deeper into racking up some pitches and getting his pitch count to where we want it,” Baldelli said.
Berrios topped the radar gun at 95 miles per hour but also forced a few altered swings with pitches that came in at 79. He was charged with two earned runs over 3⅓ innings on two hits and one walk. Ji-Man Choi hit a solo homer off him in the first inning, but he was sharp after that until he tired.
“I thought his command was good with the fastball,” Baldelli said, “and I thought he threw a few changeups that were noteworthy.”
Reed to debut
Only two players have not yet appeared in a spring training game — third baseman Miguel Sano and outfielder Michael Reed.
Sano is recovering from a cut on his left lower Achilles’ tendon. Reed has been slowed because of a sore back aggravated in December. But Reed, claimed off waivers from Atlanta during the offseason, is finally healthy and will be in the starting lineup Saturday when the Twins play Pittsburgh in Bradenton, Fla.
Reed has 22 games of major league experience. He hit .342 in 97 minor league games last season between Class AA Mississippi and Class AAA Gwinnett.
• Marwin Gonzalez, slowed because of a sore shoulder, took some at bats over on the minor league side and felt good. The utility player, expected to replace Sano at third base until he is healthy, should return to action soon.
• Lefthander Gabriel Moya also has shoulder soreness but is close to playing catch and building up for a return to the mound.
Lefthander Martin Perez, who opened eyes by hitting 97 mph on the radar gun, will make his third appearance in exhibition games when he faces the Pirates on Saturday. Righthanders Fernando Romero and Chase De Jong are among pitchers scheduled to appear in the game. Righthander Clay Holmes will start for the Pirates.