FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins’ bullpen was finalized on Wednesday, leaving only one call to make about the pitching staff.
In a decision that may have had as much to do with roster management as pitching performance, righthanders Alex Wimmers and Nick Tepesch were reassigned to the Twins’ minor league camp, officially putting Michael Tonkin and Justin Haley on the team. Manager Paul Molitor wouldn’t say that Tonkin and Haley’s advantage in the competition — they are already on the 40-man roster, while keeping Wimmers or Tepesch would have required waiving, and potentially losing, another player to make room — was decisive. But “our discussions include more than just performance,” Molitor said.
Wimmers had a 2.00 ERA this spring and did not allow a run in his last five appearances, so he was disappointed at the news. But the former first-round pick sounded optimistic that he’ll get another chance this season.
“It’s probably just roster numbers. They said I performed well, which is all I can worry about,” Wimmers said. “I feel good. I feel ready for a full season in the big leagues. And once I get there, I don’t want to come back.”
Considering the Twins appear likely to need roster spots for two other players — ByungHo Park and Chris Gimenez — the decision to stick with pitchers already on the 40-man roster was probably especially appealing.
Haley, a Rule 5 pick last December, had to be kept on the 25-man roster or be offered back to the Red Sox. He posted a 4.96 ERA in 16 ⅓ innings of Grapefruit League work but struck out 13. A former starter, he will likely handle a long-relief role. Tonkin owned a 4.38 ERA this spring, comparable to Tepesch’s 4.41.
Meanwhile, Molitor said Tyler Duffey and Adalberto Mejia will be informed Thursday about who won the fifth starter’s job.
There could be a new pitcher added to the mix, too. The Twins confirmed late Wednesday that 29-year-old righthander Paul Clemens, waived by the Padres earlier this month, had signed a minor league contract. Clemens owns a 4.89 ERA in 66 major league games, including 19 starts, with the Astros, Marlins and Padres.
• Robbie Grossman played five innings for the Twins and, though he struck out looking twice, he apparently convinced Molitor that his groin strain has healed.
• Kennys Vargas reported no swelling in his bruised left foot after three minor league at-bats on Wednesday, and Molitor said Vargas was moving with no ill effects. Meanwhile, Ryan Pressly struck out two in the game, throwing 24 pitches in his inning of work.
• For the second day in a row, Matt Belisle and Brandon Kintzler pitched a quick and uneventful inning apiece on Wednesday, proving that the veteran righthanders are prepared for regular work beginning next week, Molitor said.
The Twins’ final Grapefruit League game takes place against the Rays in Port Charlotte on Thursday, with Hector Santiago getting a tuneup start.