Twins’ 25-man roster breakdown/predictions
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spring Training officially kicks off for the Twins on Saturday with pitchers and catchers reporting to the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers.
Altogether, 66 players will be in big league camp with the Twins, and only 25 will be making the trip north once camp breaks on April 4.
Some players are assured to be on the Opening Day roster, but like every Spring Training, others are fighting for the chance to make the club.
It’s obviously still too early to make any definitive judgments on how the roster will shake out, but here are my predictions a day before pitchers and catchers report:
Locks: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano (L), Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis
Spots open: None
Situation: The Twins appear set with their rotation, as left-hander Brian Duensing is heading to the bullpen after the club signed Marquis this offseason. Everyone but Pavano dealt with injuries last season, but all head into camp healthy. Right-hander Liam Hendricks and left-hander Scott Diamond are likely to start the year at Triple-A Rochester.
Locks: Matt Capps (CL), Glen Perkins (L), Brian Duensing (L) and Joel Zumaya
Spots open: Three
Prediction: Anthony Swarzak, Alex Burnett and Terry Doyle
Other candidates: Jason Bulger, Jared Burton, Scott Diamond, Phil Dumatrait (L), Jeff Gray, Matt Maloney (L), Jeff Manship, Lester Oliveros, Esmerling Vasquez and Kyle Waldrop.
Situation: The bullpen competition could get interesting, but Swarzak is likely to make the club given his success last year and the fact he’s out of Minor League options. The Twins also like Burnett’s potential despite the fact he posted a 5.51 ERA in 50 2/3 innings in ’11. Doyle, a Rule 5 Draft pick from the White Sox, would have to be offered back to Chicago if he doesn’t make the team out of camp. But keep an eye out on Gray and non-roster invitees Burton and Bulger. It’s also worth noting that Gray and Maloney are out of options.
Locks: Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit
Spots open: One
Candidates: Drew Butera and J.R. Towles
Situation: The Twins are going to keep three catchers considering Mauer caught just 52 games and Doumit caught just 60. Butera is the most likely to be that third backstop given his experience with Twins pitchers and the defense he brings behind the plate. But he did hit just .167 last year, and will be pushed by Towles, who has a career .286/.389/.443 line at Triple-A but just a .187/.267/.315 line in 484 big league plate appearances.
Locks: Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll, Danny Valencia
Spots open: One or two
Candidates: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier
Prediction: Nishioka, Hughes
Situation: The Twins might keep just one backup infielder, and if that’s the case, I believe Nishioka is the favorite because of his ability to play both shortstop and second base. But Hughes is out of options, so I think the Twins will give him another chance as long as he’s healed from the right shoulder injury he suffered in Australia. But it’s an important spring for both Nishioka and Hughes. And Parmelee and Dozier should called up at some point this year, even though they’re expected to start the year in the Minors.
Locks: Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe
Spots open: One or none
Candidates: Rene Tosoni, Joe Benson, Darin Mastroianni
Prediction: No open spot
Situation: If the Twins decide to keep just one backup infielder, Tosoni would be the top candidate to make the club as a fifth outfielder. But I think the Twins are more likely to go with two backup infielders considering Doumit’s ability to play some right field. It’ll be interesting to see how Plouffe handles the transition to the outfield, and how much playing time he’ll get in the infield as the club’s utility player. Benson is an intriguing candidate, but needs more seasoning, as he’s yet to play at Triple-A.