Pitchers and catchers report for Minnesota Twins’ spring training by tomorrow.
The next six weeks will likely be much more ho-hum than this time last year, when a number of different jobs were up for the taking. There really aren’t that many jobs available to be won or lost this spring.
Here’s a look at what sounds like the 25-man roster:
Lineup: LF Denard Span, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, RF Michael Cuddyer, DH Jason Kubel, 3B Brian Buscher, SS Nick Punto, CF Carlos Gomez
Bench: OF Delmon Young, C Mike Redmond, INF Brendan Harris, INF Matt Tolbert
Rotation: SP Scott Baker, SP Francisco Liriano, SP Kevin Slowey, SP Nick Blackburn, SP Glen Perkins
Bullpen: CP Joe Nathan, RH Jesse Crain, RH Matt Guerrier, RH Luis Ayala, RH Boof Bonser, LH Craig Breslow, LH Jose Mijares.
Here’s the few interesting battles to watch this spring:
- Four outfielders, three spots: As first reported by The Forum’s Mike McFeely, it sounds like Young is the odd man out, with Span, Gomez and Cuddyer getting spots. Span is the one sure lock, I think. He was invaluable as a Twins leadoff hitter last season. Will one them – either Young or Cuddyer - get traded? There’s always a chance.
- Third base: I’m reaching for battles here, because there just won’t be that many. Buscher and Harris will enter camp in a platoon at third base, but this should be a good year to keep an eye on a couple of Twins hot corner prospects. Luke Hughes and Danny Valencia likely won’t win jobs out of camp, but they’re still worth watching. Hughes did play some at Triple-A last year, hitting a combined 18 homers between Double-A and Triple-A. Valencia split time between Single-A and Double-A, slugging 10 homers in 69 games at Double-A.
- Bullpen arms: The group listed above appears – barring injury – to be the one to break camp for Opening Day. But like Bonser, RHP Philip Humber – acquired in the Johan Santana trade – is out of options and must make the Opening Day roster or risk being put on waivers. He pitched very well down the stretch at Triple-A last year and could nab a bullpen spot. This could be a big year for darkhorse candidates too, since the Twins are still lacking a true set-up man after the news that Pat Neshek is out for all of 2009. Maybe a guy like Rob Delaney makes the squad.
There shouldn’t be any surprises this year, but it’s still nice to have Spring Training here.