FORT MYERS, FLA. – Brent Rooker played left field on both Friday and Saturday, so maybe it's him. Then again, Rooker is 1-for-13 since Alex Kirilloff was sent to the alternate camp, while Kyle Garlick leads the Twins in home runs, so maybe it's him. Wait, doesn't Jake Cave have more experience than any of them at playing a corner spot? Of course, Luis Arraez has had a terrific spring but doesn't have a regular position, so it could be him. And Willians Astudillo, the team leader in extra-base hits, has been shagging fly balls during workouts this week, so maybe …
The only thing looming bigger than Opening Day for the Twins is their opening in left field. And manager Rocco Baldelli doesn't seem in any hurry to fill it.
"It's not, probably, going to be one person who's rolling out there on most days," Baldelli said Saturday. "As we get going at the outset of the season, there will be a very qualified, talented committee of guys that are going to go out there and play some left field for us."
Baldelli said he is willing to be convinced that one player deserves Eddie Rosario's old job on most days, but for now, he's noncommittal. "We talk about versatility," he said. "We're talking about, it could be one of four or five different guys."
Roster cuts eliminated Keon Broxton from the picture on Saturday and figure to claim at least one more candidate. Cave and Arraez appear safe as backup options, and Astudillo emerged as likely to stick as depth at both catcher and in the infield.
So Rooker and Garlick, each of whom have had their moments this spring, seem to be fighting over one roster spot.
Four others cut
In addition to Broxton, the Twins also cut catcher Tomás Telis, outfielder Rob Refsnyder and, most notably, utility infield candidates Tzu-Wei Lin and J.T. Riddle. Those last two cuts are a strong indication that Astudillo has made the team, because he and Arraez are the only remaining players with the ability to back up infield positions.
"We haven't sat down and spoken with a handful of our guys about decisions at the end of spring training, but Willians could definitely factor into that sort of role," Baldelli said of Astudillo, who has three homers, four doubles and a .353 average this spring. "You can really put him in a few different spots and feel good about it."
Pitching picture clears
The pitching staff is all but certain now, too, with the Twins planning to keep six starters initially. Another six relievers are assured of spots in the bullpen, leaving three — lefthanders Caleb Thielbar and Brandon Waddell and righthander Derek Law — to battle over the final spot, with the other two headed to St. Paul.
One factor that weighs in Thielbar's favor: He's already on the 40-man roster, so the Twins would not have to designate another player for assignment in order to make room.
Friday's passing of bench coach Mike Bell from cancer is still weighing on the Twins. But it's not something they're looking to push from their minds this season.
"Everyone is still collecting their thoughts. The guys were able to show up to the ballpark today and get everything done that we wanted to, while also knowing that it may not feel normal or right." Baldelli said. "Everyone is going to continue to grieve in their own way and also prepare for their seasons in their own way."
Part of that is thinking of ways to best honor Bell during the season. Baldelli said that's been a topic of conversation throughout the organization and will be a priority as the season approaches.
"It's going to be something that's going to be very meaningful to our group," Baldelli said. "… There have been a lot of very touching and kind of beautiful thoughts and ideas and suggestions."
Pitcher Edwar Colina, who hasn't pitched at all this spring, has right elbow inflammation, per the Twins. He'll likely head to the injury list, with Baldelli saying he's not optimistic Colina could ramp up quickly enough to join the team anytime soon.
"He came in and had a little setback, missed some time, I believe worked toward ramping up again, had another little setback, and because of that, I think we've taken it slow since then," Baldelli said, adding he doesn't think this is a long-term issue. "… It's not just about getting his arm in shape at this point. He has to go face some hitters and get back to pitching and get into his routine and make sure that his body and his arm can take the ramp-up and the schedule."
Baldelli also said catcher Mitch Garver would likely return in the next day or two. Garver bruised his left hand on a foul tip and left Thursday's game in the third inning.
Max Kepler finally broke his batting dry spell, recording his first hit since March 2 in the Twins' 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. He had been 0-for-32 during his stretch of barrenness at the plate.
"It definitely put a smile on his face, and he's able to go home and drink some water and put his feet up right now with a knock next to his name," Baldelli said. "… Although these games don't really matter for a guy like Kep statistically, getting hits always feels good."