Thursday, March 14, 2013

The spring training transition

Twins prospect J.O. Berrios is pulled
from Tuesday night's WBC second-round
game against Team USA. The 18-year-old
has impressed with his talent and his
Spring training 2013 is a bit longer than usual. For that we can blame/credit the World Baseball Classic; camps opened earlier than normal so that WBC-bound players had an opportunity to get ready for competitive games in early March.

For the Twins in particular, the first half of spring training was largely about the dozen players headed to various national teams, and about taking a peek at the future — getting a glimpse of talent deemed too raw for serious consideration for the April roster. Alex Meyer, Michael Tonkin, Trevor May, Danny Santana, Eddie Rosario, J.O. Berrios.

The first four listed have already been sent "down the road" to the minor league complex. The last two will be when they return to Fort Myers whenever Puerto Rico is done with the WBC.

Spring training now is about fine-tuning the established regulars, the jockeying for jobs, the settling of the rotation.

As I listened to the radio broadcast Wednesday night and followed the ninth-inning debacle that was the relief work of Josh Roenicke and Caleb Thielbar, I couldn't help but think that part two of spring training is going to be less fun, and less interesting, than part one was.

Ron Gardenhire and company have about two weeks to select four relief pitchers out of a grab bag that includes Roenicke and Thielbar, plus Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Luis Perdomo, Ryan Pressly, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Slama, Anthony Swarzak and Tim Wood. They have a bit less time to sort out the order for the rotation and decide who's opening the year as the fifth starter.

These decisions matter for the 2013 season, and they certainly matter for the players involved. But they don't offer much to dream on either.

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