Who has the edge for the final Twins bullpen spot?
Manager Rocco Baldelli wants a long reliever, and there are only a few options
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Minnesota Twins came into spring training with a relatively set roster and save for a couple injuries, not much has changed. But there does appear — at least publicly — to be at least one bullpen spot still up for grabs.
Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Jorge Lopez, Caleb Thielbar and Emilio Pagan are locks. Jorge Alcala and Jovani Moran are safe bets, as well, which would leave just one spot remaining. And while the Twins have not tipped their hands, manager Rocco Baldelli has expressed his interest in having a long reliever on the roster.
“I think there are a lot of scenarios that play out in a way where we have someone that can do that on the roster. There will be periods of time where we won’t. Sometimes that’s going to be a day or two,” Baldelli said last week. “ … In our mind, that’s going to be an important spot in our bullpen that I think we would like to have more times than not. I’m hoping that one guy, at least, in our bullpen can kind of fulfill that role and do a good job.”
So, who are the options remaining?
Josh Winder and Ronny Henriquez are still in camp but do not appear to be options as they build back from injuries. Starter Bailey Ober is still in major league camp, too, but he’s expected to begin the season at Triple-A, where he will remain stretched out as a starter.
That leaves just one option on the 40-man roster: Cole Sands, who posted a 5.87 earned-run average in 11 games for the Twins last season.
Non-roster invitees Jeff Hoffman, Aaron Sanchez, Danny Coulombe and Jose De Leon also remain in camp, the latter appearing to have the edge in that group. But with Sands on the roster and De Leon out of options, it would appear right now that Sands likely has an edge for the final spot.
Baldelli promised a “prospect extravaganza” Friday in Tampa, and the Twins’ top prospects didn’t disappoint, delivering a 6-4 win at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa.
Edouard Julien, back from competing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, finished the day 2-for-4 with a single off of Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and an eighth-inning home run.
Emmanuel Rodriguez smoked a single off of Cole at 107.9 mph off the bat and later added a three-run home run, scoring top prospect Brooks Lee. Lee was hitless but made a nice diving stop at short.
Pablo Lopez and Kenta Maeda both made the trip to Tampa, with Lopez throwing three innings and Maeda throwing the next five, jumping his pitch count all the way up to 73.
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