Stop! It’s Slama time

Just when you think the Minnesota Twins are poised to make a run, they put up quite the stinker on Monday night, losing to the recently streaking yet hapless Cleveland Indians.

But the Twins hope to find relief – literally – by calling up pitcher Anthony Slama from Triple-A Rochester.

Slama was added to the 40-man roster following Monday’s game after Clay Condrey was placed on the 60-day DL. Fellow reliever Alex Burnett was optioned to Triple-A.

Fans have been asking for Slama to get called up for over a year. This season, the 26-year-old righty has pitched 52 2/3 innings, striking out 64 with a 1.71 ERA. Over the course of his minor league career, half of the outs he’s been recorded were by way of strikeout.

Interesting to point out that despite Slama’s dominance, he’s given up an earned run in each of his last three appearances.

Who knows why it’s taken so long for him to get "the call" when he’s seemingly done everything he can to dominate in the minor leagues. He’s hardly fit the bill as a big-time prospect when he entered the farm system, but the organization finally reached a point where it couldn’t ignore the intrigue surrounding him.

Twins roster nearly finalized

A number of decisions were handed down to players from the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

  • Jacque Jones and Anthony Slama were among those told they would not make the team when camp breaks. However, they will stay with the team when it goes to Target Field for exhibition games Friday and Saturday.
  • Matt Tolbert, Mike Maroth and Ben Revere were among those sent to minor league camp.

For Jones and Slama, it’s a tough break for two guys who were having very nice camps with the Twins. Jones was 11-for-32 with two homers, while Slama didn’t allow a hit and struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings of work.

Having not seen Jones’ defense, it’s hard for me to say whether or not he’s deserving of a roster spot. It’s nice to see him hitting, but his value for this team would largely be based on his ability to spot outfielders.

Slama is a head-scratcher for me, but I guess it’s a numbers game. But there’s no doubting whether he did enough to make the team. Other relievers did struggle.

So, there’s not much up for grabs at this point.

Assuming that Francisco Liriano is in the rotation, he’ll join Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey.

That would leave a couple bullpen spots open. It appears Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jesse Crain and Clay Condrey are probably locks to make the team. So it looks like Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Ron Mahay and Brian Duensing are battling for two openings.

I’d guess Neshek and Duensing get the spots, while Perkins gets traded.

Alexi Casilla is a lock for the last remaining bench spot, joining Jim Thome and the loser of the Nick Punto/Brendan Harris third-base battle. The other spot goes to a backup catcher, with Drew Butera and Wilson Ramos trying to get the reserve job behind Joe Mauer.

It sounds like manager Ron Gardenhire prefers Ramos, but I think the front office would prefer to see him get regular at-bats in the minor leagues.

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.