Thursday, April 2, 2015

The roster moves to come

The Twins optioned out left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar on Wednesday, which appears to settle the 12-man pitching staff.

Today we can expect the official addition of outfielder Shane Robinson to the 40-man roster. This has been an apparent move for a few days, and I assume the Twins have put it off to his opt-out date for two reasons:

  • to cover themselves in case of injury (an injured Robinson not on the 40 wouldn't go on the major league disabled list);
  • just in case some other team making roster cuts exposes a right-handed hitting outfielder the Twins like more than "Sugar Shane."

Beyond that, what? Two other non-roster invitees remain in camp, catcher Eric Fryer and infielder Doug Bernier; I don't see either making the Opening Day roster. Two of the trio of (alphabetically) Chris Herrmann, Eduardo Nunez and Josmil Pinto figure to be on the active roster. Pinto's health status after his concussion plays a role in that decision, as does the comfort level Paul Molitor has in Eduardo Escobar as an outfield reserve.

I see more possibilities for the future with Herrmann and Pinto than with Nunez, but given the Twins' habitual preference for mediocre veterans, I suspect Nunez will stick.

One other very slight possibility to mention. USA Today this week ran their version of the "David Ortiz sees himself in Kennys Vargas" story, and in the process mentioned something I hadn't seen from the beat writers. (Maybe I missed it.) Supposedly Vargas reported at 290 pounds, and the Twins want him at 275 max. He was, according to the story, told he had to get down to 275 or be sent out.

That would be a "tough love" move, but one I wouldn't criticize. It would actually put the long run first, which has been a rarity of late. Vargas needs to develop the self-discipline to stay in shape if he's to have a career, even if it's simply as a DH type. (There was an odd-sounding quote from Molitor recently about Vargas not being in sufficient condition to play nine innings of first base, which is, frankly, an appalling concept for a 24-year-old professional athlete.)

But I expect Vargas to be on the roster and in the lineup. A regular DH and a 12-man pitching staff leaves a four-man bench that would presumably begin with Escobar and include whichever center fielder isn't in the lineup (Robinson or Schafer) and two of the Herrmann-Nunez-Pinto trio. If Vargas gets optioned out, all three make the roster, and presumably Pinto would get the bulk of the DH time, although Molitor might use the DH slot to manufacture playing time for Escobar.

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