Twins Make Cuts, Name Starters
Image courtesy of Jonathon Dyer-USA TodayTwins Trim Roster To 31
The Twins trimmed their roster to 31 this morning with the announcement that Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and Trevor May will be optioned, while Mark Hamburger will be reassigned to the minor league camp.
Hicks acknowledged that players have to continue to show results but didn’t necessarily think his spring training stats played a role in the decision.
“You gotta show that you are producing,” Hicks said. “You gotta show that you’re having good ideas. You gotta show that you are driving guys in and moving them along, you’re doing all that stuff. Whether it is spring training or not. They're looking to make the best team for this team. Every spot is not certain.”
“You gotta prove that you are the best player at that position, at that time and that’s what it is about.”
Hicks had made inroads towards improving his offense, incorporating a leg kick in his swing to generate more power.
“I feel like I am making more aggressive swings, attacking in the zone and I feel like I was making good swings. I feel like I lined out a couple times and sent the ball deep and that’s the results that I want.”
Molitor confirmed that the move was predicated on Hicks’ entire body of work in March.
“I told him I appreciate his work down here and his desire to try to improve various aspects of his game. I think the bottom line was that he didn’t perform particularly well. There were times when we saw some good things obviously," said Molitor
Molitor said his message to Hicks was clear: Work hard and there is a chance he will be back in Minnesota soon. "Let him know that the opening day roster isn’t critical to what his year can be about. He needs to be a good defender and a guy who knows how to score runs and consistency in the quality of at-bat.”
When asked if some of the mental mistakes such as the base-running issues and forgetting how many outs there were in an inning were factors in the decision to go a different direction, Molitor admitted it did.
“You take full consideration of how spring goes, obviously. I told him after that happened that the next day after we talked about it that I like to move on and wipe the slate clean. But when you look at the body of work you have to consider all things that happen down here that was part of that. He understands that he needs to be engaged in the game.”
“He’s a guy who if he defends well and has good at-bat and stays aggressive on the basepaths he can be helpful up here. And not make mental mistakes.”
Center Field Picture Becoming Clear
With Hicks’ demotion, the Twins’ center field race has been won by Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson, who will share duties in the field.
“We’re going to have to probably use more than one person out there in center field, at least in the short-term.” Molitor said this morning after cuts were announced. The Twins manager, however, stopped short of declaring the situation a platoon. “Because you have Hunter that needs rest, you have Arcia who you want to get better against lefties and some days you might feel that it is not a good lefty to do that one. That’s why I would say it is not a straight platoon.”
The right-handed hitting Robinson does not have an overly impressive track record against left-handed pitching. Since 2011, he’s batted .248/.333/.296 in 142 minor league plate appearances and .220/.308/.283 in 237 major league plate appearances against southpaws
In addition to Schafer and Robinson, Molitor said that Eduardo Escobar will be used to spell some of the outfielders on occasion but tiptoed around the idea of using Eduardo Nunez in the outfield, suggesting his role is on the bench.
“For Nunnie, it is possible that he could see play out there,” said Molitor, “but realistically he’s gonna be a good guy and you want to use all your players at some point but he’s a guy who can pinch run and pinch hit and you want to get him some at-bat to keep him sharp.”
Tommy Milone Named Fifth Starter
With May’s demotion, the Twins announced that Tommy Milone would start the year as the fifth man in the rotation.
Milone pieced together a spring performance that saw 15 hits and 7 runs over 14 innings but Molitor said that the staff was impressed by his ability to “minimize” damage. “Tommy pitched fine down here. He’s healthy. We saw glimpses that were really good. He never pitched poorly,” said Molitor. “He minimized, he’s experienced and when evaluating my options in the short-term here get him off to a good start from the left-side.”
Milone’s edge over the other two candidates was not that significant.
“I thought May and Pelfrey didn’t really pitch themselves out of that role and it wasn’t like Milone was way better than those guys but given all variables, it makes the most sense for Tommy to be our guy.”
Mike Pelfrey To The Pen
With Milone as the final member of the rotation, Mike Pelfrey was informed that he would be moving to the bullpen. The decision did not sit well with Pelfrey as he told reporters that he would be open to a trade if it would lead to a spot in a rotation.
For now, Molitor said he would treat him as a member of his bullpen.
“He’s stretched out, he can pitch multiple innings if we run into trouble early in the game. I told him in the short-term that I was going to stay away from bringing him in in the middle of an inning until he figures out his routine for getting ready out there. He’s gonna get some opportunities out there this week.”
Molitor said he was aware that Pelfrey was disappointed but wouldn’t address his comments.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed. He put in a lot of effort to get himself back to a competitive spot. He’s looking at a little bit of a crossroad with his career after his injury and contract and all those things. I tried to be as transparent and forthcoming as I could.”
Danny Santana At Short
It may have been inevitable but Molitor made it official: Danny Santana will be his opening day shortstop in Detroit.