Are Slama, Jones playing their ways onto Twins?

A familiar face and a new face might be playing their ways onto the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day roster.

In Wednesday’s 4-1 spring training victory against the Florida Marlins, Twins outfielder Jacque Jones had a pair of hits – including a homer – to push his spring average to .360.

Meanwhile, reliever Anthony Slama picked up the save and continues to be unhittable. Literally. In five appearances, he’s not allowed a hit, striking out nine in five innings of work. I don’t care what kind of competition you’re facing. That’s an impressive five outings.

Slama has a decent chance of making the Twins’ Opening Day roster. At 26 years old, Slama has done everything he can in the minor leagues. In 140 career outings, he has an ERA of 1.87 with 271 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings, plus 54 saves the last two years.

With the struggles of Clay Condrey, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins this spring, Slama should have a real shot of the making the team when camp breaks. And I hope he does. Fans have been dying to see what he can do against big league hitters.

The path to an Opening Day roster is a little tougher for Jones. Most members of the media believe the final position player spot is a battle between Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said that he’s getting comfortable with Michael Cuddyer as a back-up center fielder when Denard Span needs a day off.

I think the Twins would be better served having someone a little more versatile as a back-up to Span, maybe waiting out spring cuts to see if someone gets let go. But I can understand why Jones is facing an uphill climb, considering he hasn’t played in the big leagues in two years, and the last time he did play didn’t go that well.

But I’m rooting for Jones. I appreciate what the guys – Doug Mientkiewicz, A.J. Pierzynski, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, etc. – in the early part of the last decade did to drag the franchise out of the dumps. Hopefully, Jones finds his way onto the big league team sometime this year.

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