The Twins opened Saturday's exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a bizarro outfield alignment: Ben Revere, a speedy center field prospect, in left; Michael Cuddyer, a rather plodding right fielder, in center; and veteran Jacque Jones in right.
I guarantee this: Were it a game that counted, the outfield would have been Jones in left, Revere in center, Cuddyer in right. But if Cuddyer's going to open the season as the primary alternative in center field to Denard Span, he's got to get some innings there this spring.
For what it's worth — which isn't much — Jones had a couple of hits Saturday, including a double, at least one off a lefty with good stuff (David Price). He also got thrown out twice at home plate; the catcher had to be carted off the field after one of them. (Listening between the lines of Dan Gladden's radio commentary, Jones did not get a good break off third base on a fly ball on the other.)
Jones, according to the stats posted this morning on ESPN.com, is hitting .318 this spring. That's all of 22 at-bats, so it establishes nothing. If he were hitting .526 in those 19 at-bats, it wouldn't mean much either. Still, .318 is better than his primary competition for the final bench job, Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert, added together. (All three had doubles Saturday.) (This paragraph updated late Sunday morning.)
What's more meaningful is roster flexibility. Jones signed a minor league deal and agreed to report to Triple A Rochester if thus assigned; he'll be available later this season if needed. Tolbert has an option left, so the Twins can ship him to Rochester and recall him if needed. Casilla is out of options. He's use or (perhaps) lose.
Of course, the demand for Casilla and his .259 2009 slugging percentage may not be very high.
As matters stand, expect Casilla to open the season on the 25-man roster.
Last week's poll — Who will lead the 2010 Twins in saves — drew no consensus.
There were 36 votes. Twelve (33 percent) picked Jon Rauch. Nine (35 percent) picked Pat Neshek. Matt Guerrier got six votes (16 percent), as did "none of the above." Two (5 percent) said it would be Francisco Liriano, and one (2 percent) holds out hope for Joe Nathan.
New poll up.