MINNEAPOLIS — After a slow start to the season as the club’s leadoff hitter, rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks moved down to the No. 8 spot in the lineup against the Angels on Tuesday.
Hicks entered Tuesday’s game hitting .047 (2-for-43) with 20 strikeouts and four walks in 11 games. With Hicks not in the leadoff spot, Darin Mastroianni was set to take over and start in left field but was a late scratch from the lineup with a sore left ankle.
Instead, second baseman Brian Dozier made his first career start in the leadoff spot and Wilkin Ramirez moved from designated hitter to left field. Hicks also slid down from the No. 7 spot to No. 8 with Ryan Doumit joining the lineup as DH and batting fifth.
“We’re just moving it around and mixing it up a little bit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ll see if [Hicks] can put some swings out there and take all thought process out of it and just go up there and take a whack.”
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe also moved up in the lineup with left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound for the Angels. Plouffe, who has a career .271/.339/.528 line against lefties, hit cleanup for the first time in his career.
“We’ve seen when he gets that backspin going he can get as hot as anyone and he did that last night when he put one in the seats,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been swinging good lately.”
1. Peter Bourjos, CF
2. Mike Trout, LF
3. Albert Pujols, DH
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, 1B
6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
7. Chris Iannetta, C
8. Luis Jimenez, 3B
9. Andrew Romine, SS
LHP Jason Vargas (0-1, 4.76 ERA)
1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, DH
6. Chris Parmelee, RF
7. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
Pedro Florimon, SS
RHP Mike Pelfrey (1-1, 7.36 ERA)
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins officially recalled outfielder Oswaldo Arcia from Triple-A Rochester on Monday to take the place of outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, who was placed on the paternity list on Sunday.
Arcia, ranked as the No. 93 overall prospect according to MLB.com, was in the lineup against the Angels, batting seventh and starting in left field to mark his Major League debut.
Arcia, 21, said he was notified of the decision that he would be called up by Rochester manager Gene Glynn on Saturday after the Red Wings played in a doubleheader. He added that he told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was willing to play wherever they put him even though he’s mostly been used in right field throughout his Minor League career.
“I told him I was ready to play wherever,” Arcia said through translator Bobby Cuellar.
Left field, center, right — I played all of these all the time in Venezuela.”
Gardenhire added that Arcia was originally slated to start at designated hitter but Josh Willingham came in feeling sick, so Willingham was out of the lineup with Arcia getting the start in left. Ryan Doumit started at DH.
Arcia, who was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year last season, was off to a hot start at Triple-A, hitting .414 with three homers, two doubles and eight RBIs in nine games.
“We wanted a guy who could swing it and he’s been swinging it pretty good,” Gardenhire said. “So he’ll come up here and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully he’ll have some fun. The kid can hit.”
But Arcia’s stay with the Twins could be short, as Ramirez — whose fiancé, Karaine, gave birth to a daughter named Venus on Sunday in New Jersey — is expected to rejoin the Twins on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Arcia, though, said the coaching staff hasn’t discussed with him if there’s a chance he can stick on the roster if he impresses against the Angels.
“I really don’t know,” Arcia said. “Nobody has really told me.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins officially activated left-hander Scott Diamond from the 15-day disabled list before his start against the Mets on Saturday, and optioned right-hander Liam Hendriks to Triple-A Rochester to make room for him on the roster.
The Twins decided to option Hendriks instead of left-hander Pedro Hernandez, who gave up one run on four hits over 4 1/3 innings in long relief on Friday. Hernandez, who left the game with a left calf strain, is expected to join the rotation.
“Hernandez came in today and he’s fine,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He should be ready to pitch in four or five days. They’re thinking it’s a cramp or a slight strain but nothing bad. All the belief is that he’s fine and he’s throwing the ball fine so that made our decision.”
Gardenhire said he’s still working to sort out the rotation for the club’s upcoming series against the Angels, as Hendriks was slated to start on Tuesday. Gardenhire said it’s possible right-hander Vance Worley could start on short rest on Tuesday with Hernandez getting the start on Wednesday.
“We’re kind of ad-libbing here on how we’re going to run all this things there,” Gardenhire said. “Worley threw just 57 pitches last night so there’s a chance he could even come back Tuesday.”
Hendriks made two starts this season, posting a 4.66 ERA with five strikeouts and one walk in 9 2/3 innings. He fared well in his last outing against the Royals, as he gave up just one run, but he lasted just five innings.
“He has to make better use of his pitches and go deep into games,” Gardenhire said. “The last outing was better where he moved the ball in and used his breaking ball to keep hitters off-balance. He just has to start doing that from inning one. So he’ll have to go down to Triple-A and work on that.”
1. Collin Cowgill, CF
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. John Buck, C
5. Lucas Duda, LF
6. Marlon Byrd, RF
7. Ike Davis, 1B
8. Justin Turner, DH
9. Ruben Tejada, SS
RHP Matt Harvey
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Joe Mauer, DH
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Ryan Doumit, C
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Brian Dozier, 2B
9. Eduardo Escobar, SS
LHP Scott Diamond
MINNEAPOLIS — When Twins manager Ron Gardenhire unveiled his lineup for Opening Day against the Tigers this morning, there was a surprise with catcher Joe Mauer getting the start as the club’s second hitter for just the 74th time in his career.
Mauer, who hit second only 10 times over the previous three seasons, got the nod in the two-hole with second baseman Brian Dozier sliding down from second to bat eighth against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
“I want him to bat first, second and third but I can only bat him in one place, so we chose second,” Gardenhire joked. “As [hitting coach Tom] Brunansky and I talked, we talked about ‘ambush.’ So we’re going to ambush at the top with all these hitters and go from there.”
Mauer, who led the American League with a .416 on-base percentage in 2012, said he’s fine with the move to the second spot in the lineup behind rookie Aaron Hicks and in front of sluggers Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit.
“I told Gardy that I don’t have a problem wherever he puts me in the lineup, as long as I’m in the lineup,” Mauer said. “And what gives us our best chance to score runs, so hopefully we can get some runs.”
Gardenhire, though, said the move isn’t permanent and Mauer can move down to his usual third spot in the lineup if someone like Dozier proves capable of batting second.
“It’s for today, and we can always adjust as we go along,” Gardenhire said.
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Price Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Andy Dirks, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B
RHP Justin Verlander
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Ryan Doumit, DH
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Brian Dozier, 2B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
RHP Vance Worley
BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander Vance Worley turned in his best outing of the spring on Wednesday against the Pirates, and was rewarded after the game by being named Minnesota’s Opening Day starter.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made the announcement that Worley, who gave up two runs on five hits over five innings against the Pirates, will take the mound for the Twins on Monday against the Tigers at Target Field.
But it wasn’t exactly a surprise considering Worley has been lined up for that outing for the last few weeks, and was the top candidate to make that start with left-hander Scott Diamond on the disabled list to start the season after having a bone chip removed from his elbow in December.
“Worley threw the ball well and he’s going to be the Opening Day starter,” Gardenhire said. “I thought today he had his best stuff with his breaking ball and all that. So a good day for him.”
Worley, who was acquired in the trade that sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia, finishes spring with a 5.73 ERA in Grapefruit League play. But Worley said he’s satisfied with where he’s at heading into the regular season, especially coming off his best start of the spring.
“I’m excited,” Worley said. “Especially after the spring I had, I finally got some kinks out and threw the ball well today.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Willingham homered and Chris Parmelee and Wilkin Ramirez both doubled twice to help lead the Twins to a 9-5 win over the Orioles on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.
With the win, the Twins improved to 15-14 in Grapefruit League play. They travel to Bradenton on Wednesday to play the Pirates in a day game at McKechnie Field.
What went right: The offense has been on fire recently, and it continued against the Orioles.
Aaron Hicks, Parmelee and Ramirez each collected three hits while Willingham hit his third homer of the spring.
Top prospect Miguel Sano played in front of the home crowd at Hammond Stadium in a Grapefruit League for the first time in his career, and went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. He didn’t really have any balls hit his way but the Twins have raved about how much he’s improved defensively.
It’ll be exciting to see another top prospect play on Wednesday, as Byron Buxton is on the travel list to play in Bradenton. Buxton, ranked as the club’s No. 2 overall prospect, was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s First-Year Player Draft.
Relievers Jared Burton and Glen Perkins both threw a scoreless inning. Burton has pitched much better recently and Perkins has yet to give up a run in Grapefruit League action.
What went wrong: Right-hander Liam Hendriks was pitching well but left the game in the third inning after being struck on the right hand by a line drive from Brian Roberts.
Hendriks, who tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, said the injury is minor and that he hopes to throw his scheduled bullpen session on Thursday. Luckily for Hendriks it was just a bruise and left his pinky slightly swollen.
Hendriks said he still hasn’t been told that he’s made the rotation but as long as he can bounce back from the hand injury, it seems like a safe bet considering Samuel Deduno and P.J. Walters were both reassigned to Minor League camp before the game.
Relievers Alex Burnett and Casey Fien were only OK, as Burnett gave up a run in 1 1/3 innings while Fien surrendered two runs in two innings.
What they said: “I have no idea yet. It’s still up in the air. Obviously, it stinks. But at least it was a scoreless outing.” — Hendriks on if he’s made the team.
What’s next:Right-hander Vance Worley is set to start for the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. ET game on Wednesday against the Pirates at McKechnie Field. Worley is likely to be Minnesota’s Opening Day starter, as he’s starting five days before the regular season opener against the Tigers on Monday at Target Field. But the Twins have yet to officially name an Opening Day starter. Right-hander A.J. Burnett is scheduled to take the mound for Pittsburgh.
Injury update: Shortstop Pedro Florimon tweaked his ankle running the bases and won’t play Wednesday for precautionary reasons. … Right-hander Tim Wood (strained rotator cuff) is likely to start the year on the disabled list, according to general manager Terry Ryan.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins rallied for two runs in the seventh inning but Minor League pitcher Jason Lane gave up three runs in the ninth inning to hand the Twins a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals on Monday at Hammond Stadium.
With the loss, the Twins fell to 14-14 in Grapefruit League play. They host the Orioles in a day game at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday.
What went right: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey turned in his best outing of the spring, as he gave up one run on five hits and a walk over five innings.
Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, is set to make one more start on Saturday before the start of the regular season. But he appears to be out of the mix for the Opening Day start against the Tigers on April 1, as Vance Worley appears to be the top candidate because he’s slated to start Wednesday.
Reliever Ryan Pressly threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief and looks to be a lock at this point in spring, which is impressive as a Rule 5 Draft pick. If he makes the Twins, he must remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season, or else he must be offered back to the Red Sox.
Left-hander Tyler Robertson threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings but looks to be on the outside looking in once the final round of cuts comes this week. He has a 6.75 ERA this spring.
Joe Mauer continued his impressive spring, going 2-for-3, and is hitting .435. Eduardo Escobar went 3-for-4 and is hitting .346.
What went wrong: The ninth inning was a mess for Minnesota but it came with Minor Leaguers in the game for the Twins.
Lane, who is a converted outfielder who played parts of six years in the Majors, gave up three runs in the ninth inning. Lane is still working out the kinks of being a pitcher, as he spent most of last year pitching for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas.
What they said: “At this point, he’s in. Things can change but at this point, he’s in. And we feel good about that. We’re excited for him.” — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on non-roster outfielder Wilkin Ramirez.
What’s next:Right-hander Liam Hendriks is set to start for the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. ET game on Tuesday against the Orioles at Hammond Stadium. Hendriks is battling for a spot in the rotation but saw his chances improve on Monday, when the Twins trimmed their roster by four players and have just 27 healthy players in camp. Right-hander Kevin Gausman is scheduled to take the mound for the Orioles.
Injury update: Right-handers Tim Wood (right rotator cuff strain) and Samuel Deduno (strained groin) continue to be shut down with their injuries, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan. Ryan said there is not a timetable for a return for either pitcher yet.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Opening Day roster for the Twins began to take shape today, as the club optioned catcher Drew Butera to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned catcher Dan Rohlfing, outfielder Brandon Boggs and infielders Jeff Clement and Ray Olmedo to Minor League camp.
The roster moves mean the Twins have 31 active players in camp, but that includes injured pitchers Tim Wood, Samuel Deduno, Rafael Perez and Rich Harden so it’s really down to just two roster decisions.
Wood is a candidate to start the year on the 15-day disabled list while Deduno, who is not on the 40-man roster, will likely start at Triple-A Rochester while he recovers from his groin injury. Perez and Harden are both throwing off the mound but are a ways away and not on the 40-man roster.
So with a week left in camp, here’s what I have as my predictions for Minnesota’s roster come Opening Day:
Locks: Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia
Spots open: Two
Prediction: Cole De Vries, Liam Hendriks
Other candidates: P.J. Walters
Situation: With Scott Diamond on the disabled list to the start the season and top prospect Kyle Gibson ticketed for Triple-A Rochester, the Twins have two open spots in the rotation. De Vries, who has been impressive this spring, seems close to a lock at this point and Hendriks also appears likely. Walters looks to be on the outside looking in, as he’s not as stretched out as De Vries and Hendriks and is also not on the 40-man roster. The Twins, though, could open the year with four starting pitchers because of an off-day on April 2.
Locks: Glen Perkins (CL), Jared Burton, Brian Duensing (L)
Spots open: Four (or five potentially)
Prediction: Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Josh Roenicke, Ryan Pressly
Other candidates: Tyler Robertson
Situation: At this point, Pressly and Roenicke seem like locks, especially because Roenicke is out of Minor League options and Pressly is a Rule 5 Draft pick. Burnett and Fien were both solid last year and have been pitching better recently, so they’re pretty close to locks as well. The only question is whether the Twins want to go with 13 pitchers to open the season, which means Robertson could sneak in as the club’s eighth reliever. But he really struggled in his last outing and has a 7.71 ERA this spring.
Locks: Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit
Spots open: None
Situation: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said early in spring that he didn’t want to go with three catchers because he wanted more pop off the bench and stuck to his word. Drew Butera was optioned to Triple-A so Mauer and Doumit will split the catching duties.
Locks: Justin Morneau, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll, Eduardo Escobar
Spots open: None
Situation: Morneau, Dozier, Florimon, Plouffe and Carroll were all locks before Spring Training even started but Escobar played his way onto the roster. He’s been solid both offensively and defensively this spring, and also is expected to be the club’s emergency catcher.
Locks: Josh Willingham, Aaron Hicks, Chris Parmelee, Darin Mastroianni
Spots open: One (potentially)
Prediction: Wilkin Ramirez
Situation: Ramirez has been on fire at the plate recently, and is hitting .425 (17-for-40) this spring with seven doubles. Gardenhire has talked about having a better bench and Ramirez would seemingly help that cause as a fifth outfielder with some pop in his bat. But Ramirez is limited defensively to playing only the corners while Mastroianni can play all three spots. Ramirez is essentially a lock to make the team if the Twins decide to go with 12 pitchers. But the fact that he’s not on the 40-man roster is what works against him.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Justin Morneau and Drew Butera homered to lead the Twins to a 14-5 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
But it was Aaron Hicks who stole the show by going 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI before being named the club’s starting center fielder come Opening Day after the game.
With the win, the Twins improved to 14-13 in Grapefruit League play. They host the Cardinals in an afternoon game at Hammond Stadium on Monday.
What went right: The wind certainly helped but the Twins offense had another big performance.
Mauer blasted a three-run homer in the first inning and later drove home three more runs with a bases clearing double as part of a seven-run fourth inning for the Twins.
Dozier and Morneau also hit two-run homers while Butera launched a solo blast while serving as a pinch-hitter for Mauer.
But Hicks set the tone at the top of the lineup with four hits, including a double, and was rewarded by being told after the game that he beat out Darin Mastroianni for the center-field job.
On the pitching side, Jared Burton tossed a scoreless inning while Josh Roenicke threw two scoreless frames. It’s looking like Roenicke, who is out of Minor League options, will make the bullpen, especially now that Tim Wood is out with a strained right rotator cuff.
What went wrong: The Twins finally got their chance to start P.J. Walters with Samuel Deduno out with a strained left groin but he didn’t have his best stuff.
Walters, who entered with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 11 innings, didn’t fare as well against Toronto, as he surrendered three runs on five hits and two walks over three-plus innings. He also served up a two-run blast to Luis Jimenez on a windy day that featured seven homers between the two clubs.
He threw 57 pitches and is expected to get to 85 pitches in his next outing. But he could be on the outside looking in as far as the rotation goes, as he’s not as stretched out as Cole De Vries or Liam Hendriks and isn’t on the 40-man roster.
What they said: “I think it’s pretty simple to say Hicks is going to be our center fielder. I don’t think it’s a shocking announcement by any means.”– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
What’s next: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is set to start for the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals at Hammond Stadium. Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, has a 7.45 ERA in four outings this spring. Right-hander Shelby Miller is scheduled to take the mound for the Cardinals.
Injury update: Wood was diagnosed with a right rotator cuff strain and is likely to not be ready for the start of the season, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The starting center-fielder competition is over for the Twins.
Aaron Hicks, who has yet to play above Double-A New Britain, will be Minnesota’s center fielder and leadoff hitter come Opening Day on April 1 against the Tigers at Target Field, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced Sunday.
Hicks, who went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI against the Blue Jays on Sunday, won the battle over Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson. Mastroianni is expected to be the club’s fourth outfielder while Benson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Friday.
“I think it’s pretty simple to say Hicks is going to be our center fielder,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t think it’s a shocking announcement by any means.”
Hicks, 23, has been impressive this spring, as he’s hitting .350/.397/.650 with a team-high four homers, 16 RBIs, 16 runs and three stolen bases. He hit five homers in a three-game stretch earlier this month, including three in a game against the Phillies in Clearwater and one against Team Puerto Rico in an exhibition game.
“It feels great,” Hicks said. “It’s everything I’ve been working for since I started playing baseball. So it just feels really good to be named center fielder.”