BRADENTON, FLA. – With under two weeks remaining in camp, it’s time to pay closer attention to roster-spot battles.
One decision manager Rocco Baldelli must make is how many pitchers he will take north. Will it be 11, 12 or 13?
“There’s just way too much going on related to all that stuff to feel like we know what we are going to do at this point,” he said. “It’s too far off and there’s too much going on to know.”
The number he chooses will be based on performance as well as who is healthy and who is out of options. He also will consider there are five off days before April 12, which allows him to open the season with a four-man rotation and move the fifth starter into the bullpen.
The number of lefthanders in the bullpen for the long haul also is up for debate. Taylor Rogers is considered a lock. Adalberto Mejia, who has given up one run over five innings in camp, is out of options.
Gabriel Moya, slowed because of a sore shoulder, hasn’t thrown in several days and has fallen behind. He made the Opening Day roster last year and pitched in 35 games.
“We’re taking small steps right now,” Baldelli said of Moya. “Again, no setbacks. But were making small steps going into next week and hopefully we’ll know more by next week.”
Then there’s long shot Tim Collins, out to show he’s put his two Tommy John surgeries behind him. He’s given up two runs over four innings — including a home run — so far. But he did strike out the side in the eighth inning Monday against Detroit.
“You bring a guy in from the bullpen with his good breaking ball and good riding fastball, that’s what you want to see,” Baldelli said. “You want to see bats missed, and that’s what he’s done. He’s shown us he can do it.”
There was a good reason why the Twins coveted the $750,000 in international bonus money they received from Baltimore in exchange for righthander Xavier Moore on March 3.
They were down to less than $100,000 in their bonus pool, but are interested in a few prospects who remain free agents since the signing period opened last July 2. The money they traded for will be used to land a few more prospects from that class.
The Twins began the period with $6,025,400 in the bonus pool, one of six teams with the largest pool. Most of it went to Venezuelan outfielder Misael Urbina, who signed for $2.75 million. They can only use the $750,000 on players in the 2018-2019 class.
Tyler Austin fell behind 0-2 to Jordan Lyles in the sixth inning. Lyles’ next pitch was a belt-high fastball with nothing on it, and Austin deposited it well into the seats in left for his first home run of the exhibition season.
Austin, fighting for a roster spot, could use a few more. But Baldelli was just happy to see Austin’s post-home run hubris.
“Then it’s great because you also get to hear him talk about it after,” Baldelli said. “That’s the fun part for us in the dugout. The energy level goes [up] definitely after a swing like that.”
The Twins home opener March 28 against Cleveland has not yet sold out. There are about 4,000-5,000 seats remaining for the 3:10 p.m. game.
The Twins will head down the street Wednesday to face the Red Sox. Righthander Jose Berrios will square off against Boston righthander Nathan Eovaldi. In addition to Collins, righthanders Blake Parker, Mike Morin and Matt Magill are scheduled to appear in the 12:05 p.m. game.
La Velle E. Neal III