SARASOTA, Fla. – With the bases loaded with Orioles on Saturday night, Gabriel Moya froze Anthony Santander with a fastball, walked off the mound unscored upon again, and all but declared victory in his quest to seize a spot in the Twins’ bullpen.
“I did everything in my power to show the team that I could, but it’s not in my hands,” Moya, who loaded the bases on two hits and a walk before getting the strikeout, said through an interpreter. “I was able to show the team and the manager who Gabriel Moya is.”
Moya is a confident lefthanded changeup specialist who allowed one run over 11 Grapefruit League innings this spring. But at 23, with no Class AAA experience and on a team with two other lefthanded relievers, he is no sure thing to make the roster, even after starting and pitching a scoreless inning in the Twins’ 12-4 victory over the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.
The game was a chance for Moya and righthander Tyler Kinley to showcase themselves one last time before the Twins’ roster is finalized, as well one more look for Paul Molitor at bench candidates Robbie Grossman and Ryan LaMarre, who are competing with Zack Granite.
Or it was supposed to be, before the Twins’ injury report was published. Phil Hughes suffered a mild strain in his left oblique while pitching Thursday, the Twins revealed, and Granite bruised his right shoulder in the same game while diving for a ball. Those injuries could complicate the Twins’ decisions — or clarify them.
Hughes is ticketed to be the Twins’ fifth starter, but won’t be needed in that role until April 11 — 18 days from now. He’s already scheduled to stay behind in Fort Myers to throw against minor leaguers next week, but if his injury requires a stint on the disabled list, he could simply remain in Florida, returning in time to make that start. In the meantime, both Moya and Kinley could remain on the roster, giving the Twins more time to evaluate them.
Similarly, Granite’s injury, though considered minor, might limit his ability to throw or swing a bat, and could allow the Twins to put off any decision about Grossman, who went 0-for-4 Saturday while playing right field, and center fielder LaMarre, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and raised his spring average to .500.
Molitor, though, didn’t sound so certain that a layoff would allow Hughes to be ready to start.
“It makes it a little tricky,” Molitor said. “If we have to go down a DL track with [Hughes] … we’re going to have to figure out how sharp he’ll be. If it’s something that’s going to linger, then it puts that spot in the rotation in jeopardy if he doesn’t pitch for awhile.”
Molitor will meet with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine on Sunday morning, and review additional medical data. It’s entirely possible, the manager said, that final roster decisions will wait until after the Twins’ exhibition finale Tuesday in Washington.
That could extend the tense waiting period for Moya and Kinley, not to mention the outfielders. “You can do the math,” Molitor said before watching Ehire Adrianza, and minor leaguers Lewin Diaz, Edgar Cocino and Willians Astudillo all hit home runs in the Twins’ rout of Baltimore. “What we do with Phil is going to have an impact on those guys.”