FORT MYERS, Fla. – J.T. Chargois' chances of opening the season in the Twins bullpen got off to a rocky start, and never recovered. But Paul Molitor, shortly after dispatching the reliever to Class AAA Rochester, said he still believes in a pitcher that many scouts project as a future closer.

"We tried to affirm that we haven't lost faith that he's a major pitcher," the Twins manager said. "He just needs to go improve on some things."

Chargois, regarded six weeks ago as a strong contender to claim a role in the bullpen, appeared in eight games this spring, and allowed runs in five of them, and never recorded a hitless inning. Molitor feared the 26-year-old Louisianan was letting each poor outing make matters worse, making his eventual option to Triple-A inevitable.

"You can see how bad he wants it. It has almost worked against him," Molitor said. "We talked about fastball command, his tempo on the mound. Things we have seen at times last year, but this spring has been a little inconsistent."

For Berrios' benefit

Hector Santiago returned from the World Baseball Classic energized by the experience, he said, and ready to reclaim his spot in the Twins rotation. Jose Berrios' situation is much less clear, but Santiago said he is certain the 18 days away will help, not hurt, his young teammate.

"It's got to make the games so much easier, after being on the field with that intensity," Santiago said.

Berrios pitched only twice: a five-inning start vs. Italy on March 10, and an eight-batter relief appearance vs. Team USA in Wednesday's championship game.

The Puerto Rican team, which also included Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas, flew to San Juan on Thursday for a parade, and the four Twins came straight to camp from the airport when they arrived Friday afternoon. It was a tiring schedule, Santiago said, but worth it for "an amazing, amazing experience."

He will pitch Saturday night in Sarasota vs. the Orioles, and figures he's right on schedule for the regular season after making three appearances, each at least 48 pitches long, in the WBC. "Five innings or 75 pitches tomorrow, then six or 90 next week, and that's where I usually am at the end of spring training," Santiago said.


• Glen Perkins met with Twins bosses Derek Falvey and Thad Levine earlier this week to discuss options about how the reliever's rehab from shoulder surgery should proceed once camp breaks. Perkins has yet to throw with maximum effort, and opening the season on the 60-day disabled list "is a possibility, for sure," Falvey said. But nothing has been decided, and the Twins won't put a target date on any possibility return, he said.

• Kennys Vargas, in his first game back from the WBC, fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning and left the game after flying out. X-rays were negative, but "he's sore," Molitor said.

On deck

Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Duffey will face minor leaguers in the morning, hoping to strengthen their case for the starting rotation. Later Saturday, the Twins will face Baltimore again in Sarasota.