Paul Molitor is week away from managing his first real game, and he's beginning to visualize how he wants it to go. He's looking ahead to pitching matchups, sorting out his bullpen options, and figuring out which outfielders will play, and when.
And he's reached a decision on the top of his lineup. After toying with the idea of slotting Brian Dozier, the team's leading home run hitter the past two seasons, behind Joe Mauer, the rookie manager has decided against it. "I like the way those first three guys are right now," Molitor said of Monday's first three: Danny Santana, Dozier and Mauer. "I like Dozier in the second hole."
Behind those three? Well, check back later. "We're not going to have a set lineup, per se," Molitor said. "We have our outfield situation — that's going to be a little bit flexible."
Don't be surprised, however, if Torii Hunter ends up batting cleanup on a regular basis, something he hasn't done since 2012 while with the Angels. "I like the idea of having a righthander in that slot at least a good portion of the time against righthanded pitching. I like how that plays out," Molitor said. "I like the experience Torii has. He's not a prototypical pull hitter."
Molitor mentioned that Trevor Plouffe might fill that role on occasion, too.
The outfield will be adjusted daily, Molitor said, with Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson manning center field, but also filling in for Hunter or Oswaldo Arcia. He plans to be careful about overusing the 39-year-old Hunter, who has played between 140 and 144 games each of the past three seasons, basically getting one game off per week.
"I know what numbers he was able to produce last year, and the role he served the Tigers in. Although he was in the 2-hole most of the year, he obviously had a very productive year," Molitor said. "They backed him off enough where he was fresh at the end of the year, so that's kind of my goal."
It was just four innings and three trips to the plate in a minor league game, but the Twins were excited to have Josmil Pinto back in action Monday, nine days after taking three blows to the head from Adam Jones' bat.
Pinto drew two walks and hit a pop-up in a Class AA game, but he also caught three innings and showed no ill effects of the concussion that has put his readiness for next week's opener in doubt. "We got him acclimated again, which was good," General Manager Terry Ryan said.
Pinto passed a concussion test Sunday and was cleared by MLB a day later. He will play another minor league game or two, including a Class A game Tuesday, to preserve the Twins' right to backdate any disabled list stint should he have a setback.
Two from U let go
The Twins released a pair of former Gophers, outfielder Mike Kvasnicka and catcher Kyle Knudson, from their minor league camp. Knudson, 27, drafted by the Twins in the ninth round in 2010, batted .215 last year at Class AA New Britain. Kvasnicka, 26, a Lakeville North product who was a 2010 first-round pick by Houston, batted .257.
The Yankees make their lone visit of the spring to Hammond Stadium on Tuesday, facing lefthander Tommy Milone. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for New York.