FORT MYERS, FLA. – After meeting with Jose Berrios on Monday, the Twins made it official: The 24-year-old will start on Opening Day.
He will be the 10th Twins pitcher in the past 12 seasons to take the ball for the opener and the youngest since Brad Radke, then 23, pitched the 1996 opener.
“Truthfully, we were all very happy to give him that news,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think he was also happy to hear it. He’s earned it. He’s a wonderful guy. I was happy to see him so excited.”
Berrios went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA last season while being named to his first All-Star Game. He is 26-19 with a 3.86 ERA over his past two seasons while becoming the ace of the Twins staff as well as one of the finest young pitchers in the game.
He now gets to pitch on the unofficial national holiday, as an optimistic Twins team is set to play host to Cleveland on March 28 at Target Field.
“In this instance, there wasn’t a ton of discussion,” Baldelli said. “Everyone was basically just happy for him. I think everyone feels not just comfortable with it, but excited for him and for us.”
Kyle Gibson, who started Monday, and Jake Odorizzi, who will start Tuesday, are in line to follow Berrios in the rotation. The Twins have yet to announce their assignments.
With minor league spring training near its start — players report Tuesday with the first workout Thursday — the Twins are expected to make their first cuts of camp.
The first round of cuts likely will include the organization’s top prospect, shortstop Royce Lewis, who suffered an oblique strain lunging for a ground ball during the first week of workouts.
Oblique strains can nag all season if a player attempts to return too soon. Lewis has only been allowed to work on bunting since the injury. And since he has been unable to go through drills and take batting practice, he will need several days of workouts before he could play in a game. So Lewis likely will be sent to the minor league camp this week to complete his recovery. If that happens, look for the Twins to summon him as an extra player a few times before camp breaks.
• Longtime Twins scout Larry Corrigan threw out the first pitch during a retirement ceremony before the game with the Orioles at Hammond Stadium. Among a group looking on was former Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. Former announcer John Gordon served as the master of ceremonies. Corrigan flipped a strike to one of the many players he scouted for the Twins — former All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter.
• Righthander Addison Reed had a rough afternoon, loading the bases in the third inning on a single, hit batter and walk before serving up a grand slam to Renato Nunez. After walking the next batter, Reed was removed from the game. He threw one pitch at 91 miles per hour, the rest were 89-90. His fastball averaged 90.9 mph last year, when he went 1-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 55 games after signing a two-year, $16.75 million deal.
One pitching debut down, one to go. Odorizzi, who has been eased through early workouts, is scheduled to start Tuesday against Tampa Bay at Hammond Stadium. It will Odorizzi’s first chance to show off the mechanical adjustments he has made during the offseason. Lefthander Adalberto Mejia and righthander Tyler Duffey also are scheduled to pitch. Adam Kolarek will start for Tampa Bay.
La VELLE E. NEAL III