FORT MYERS, Fla. – Who will take Ervin Santana’s place in the Twins starting rotation while his hand heals from surgery? Paul Molitor revealed Wednesday that he is considering an unexpected candidate:
Nobody. With five days off scheduled in the season’s first 22 days, it’s possible the Twins will need a fifth starter only once before April 25 — and Santana could be ready to pitch by then.
“We’ll get through it. … We’re just going to have to make some adjustments,” Molitor said of Santana’s unexpected finger surgery. “We’ve talked about the four-man rotation.”
The Twins have weather days after home openers at Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Target Field, plus travel days on either side of their two-game trip to Puerto Rico. Besides minimizing Santana’s absence, a four-man rotation would have other benefits, too, Molitor said.
“You want guys to get into a regular routine as fast as possible,” he said. “If a guy is getting an extra day here, and two extra days there to try to incorporate five [starters], I don’t think that’s a good way to establish a rhythm.”
In addition, it would allow the Twins to replace Santana with an extra position player, giving them a four-man bench without reducing the bullpen.
Molitor said he and pitching coach Garvin Alston haven’t settled on a plan yet, and he is not ready to name an Opening Day starter. For one thing, Molitor said, he intends to schedule it so Jose Berrios, the favorite to start the opener, can also pitch in his home of Puerto Rico on April 17 or 18.
A number of position players reported early and took part in workouts Wednesday, nearly a week ahead of schedule, including Eddie Rosario, Ehire Adrianza and Robbie Grossman. But one pitcher was notably absent, too.
New closer Fernando Rodney had a family situation to attend to, the team said, and missed the first day of camp. The righthander has been in contact with the Twins, and planned to arrive in Fort Myers late Wednesday or Thursday.
Rodney and Santana (in New York to have his hand examined again). Molitor said he was encouraged by the conditioning already evident on the staff, and cited Adalberto Mejia as an example of someone who had reported in shape.
Kyle Gibson had his arbitration hearing, with the righthander asking for $4.55 million and the Twins offering $4.2 million. He was in camp Wednesday, awaiting a ruling on the Twins’ first arbitration hearing in 12 years.
A couple of former Twins pitchers signed minor league contracts Wednesday: Craig Breslow agreed to terms with the Blue Jays, and Hector Santiago returned to his original team, the White Sox.
Let’s meet BROCK STASSI
First baseman / outfielder
2017 stats: .161 with two homers in 51 games for the Phillies, and .249 with four HRs for their Class AAA Lehigh Valley team.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent to minor league contract.
Role: Competing to be backup or defensive replacement at two positions.
Did you know: Stassi, from Yuba City, Calif., made his MLB debut last April, but he was released by the Phillies on Aug. 31. His brother Max, younger by 19 months, reached the majors as a catcher in 2013, has played a handful of games in each of the past five seasons for the Astros, and last October won a World Series ring.