WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Carlos Correa, Jose Beltran and Luke Gregorson all were missing from the Astros roster Wednesday, and Jose Altuve just got back last week. So Paul Molitor was reluctant to complain too much about the way Twins camp has been disrupted by Puerto Rico’s appearance in the World Baseball Classic championship game.
That said, the Twins manager admits he is disappointed by the way a couple of his players — the ones without guaranteed roster spots — have been used.
Jose Berrios pitched five innings March 10, and then not again until Wednesday’s title game, when he went 1 2⁄₃ innings, giving up three runs on one hit, one walk and hitting one batter. He also struck out four.
Kennys Vargas played three times, including a late appearance Wednesday, and while he homered once, it amounts to only nine at-bats in more than two weeks.
“It’s a little concerning to me that it’s unfolded the way it has, but we all knew there was risk,” Molitor said.
Berrios and Vargas likely have lost ground in their fight for roles on the Twins, though it’s a choice they made in order to represent their country.
“[We got] a little bit of an outline of what might happen, but it really hasn’t happened that way. It’s a long time to not pitch a lot of innings,” Molitor said. “And you’re kind of trusting what they’re doing away from in-game competition, which is not the same.”
Puerto Rican teammate Hector Santiago has gotten somewhat more regular work, pitching three times for a total of 8 ⁄₃ innings, so he’s tentatively being lined up to start Saturday’s game against the Orioles. Berrios, though, is a wait-and-see case. While the Twins wait for him, Tyler Duffey and Adalberto Mejia will pitch minor league games Saturday, hoping to win that fifth-starter spot.
Vargas was competing with ByungHo Park for a designated hitter role, but he went 1-for-13 in his first six games with the Twins, then left for the WBC. “His role is a little undefined,” Molitor said. “I thought he might DH some against lefties” in the WBC, but it hasn’t happened.
One WBC veteran is back on schedule, however. Ervin Santana will face Baltimore on Friday, putting him in line to start on Opening Day.
• Lefthander Craig Breslow was added to the 40-man roster, a sign that he’s nearly certain to make the eventual 25-man roster once April arrives. The veteran lefthander could have opted out of his minor league contract Monday, but he received assurances from the Twins that they have been impressed with his performance this spring. Breslow, 36, has allowed only one run and three hits in six spring outings, and while he has walked seven batters, the Twins’ feeling is that his control will improve as he gets used to his new near-sidearm delivery.
• Taking a ligament from Trevor May’s knee, surgeon Keith Meister, the Rangers’ team physician, replaced the UCL in May’s pitching elbow Wednesday. The Tommy John operation will keep May sidelined for 2017.
This time, the Twins’ long bus ride is on the Gulf side, but Justin Haley won’t mind. The righthander gets the start Thursday in Clearwater against the Phillies.