Milone named fifth starter over bullpen-bound Pelfrey

Left-hander struck out eight over 14 spring innings

Milone named fifth starter over bullpen-bound Pelfrey

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The competition for the Twins' fifth starter officially ended on Saturday, as left-hander Tommy Milone won the job over right-handers Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May. Pelfrey, who was frustrated by the decision, will head to the bullpen, while May was optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

Milone showed he was healthy after being bothered late in the season by what was eventually diagnosed in the offseason as a benign tumor in his neck. The lone lefty in the competition posted a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings with eight strikeouts and four walks. Pelfrey actually had the best numbers with a 1.32 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks in 13 2/3 innings, while May had a 4.22 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in 10 2/3 innings.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mauer's first spring homer backs solid Santana outing

Right-hander allows one run over six innings; first baseman slugs two-run shot

Mauer's first spring homer backs solid Santana outing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ervin Santana tossed six strong innings and Joe Mauer crushed a two-run homer to help lead the Twins to a 7-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday at Hammond Stadium.

Santana, making his fourth Grapefruit League start, gave up just one run on five hits while striking out two. The lone run he allowed came in the third inning on an RBI single from Odubel Herrera to score Cesar Hernandez, who led off the inning with a double.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Santana named Opening Day shortstop

Second-year player hit .319 in 101 games as a rookie in 2014

Santana named Opening Day shortstop

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Given his impressive rookie season last year and his numbers this spring, it comes as no surprise, but Danny Santana will be the Opening Day shortstop for the Twins, manager Paul Molitor said Saturday.

Santana, who hit .319/.353/.472 in 101 games as a rookie last year, has followed that up by hitting .341/.356/.455 with three doubles and a triple in 13 Grapefruit League games.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top pitching prospect Thorpe to undergo Tommy John surgery

Top pitching prospect Thorpe to undergo Tommy John surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top pitching prospect Lewis Thorpe was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Saturday.

Thorpe, ranked as the club's No. 10 overall prospect by MLB.com, felt pain in his elbow after throwing a pitch in a Minor League game last week. He was originally shut down while pitching for Class A Cedar Rapids last September with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, but rehabbed it this offseason to make his return this spring. It didn't work out, however, as the 19-year-old Australia native will need to have the surgery. Ryan didn't know the date or who will perform the operation just yet.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

May, Hicks among Twins roster cuts

Pitching prospect, center fielder optioned to Triple-A Rochester

May, Hicks among Twins roster cuts

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins' roster situation became much clearer Saturday morning, as they made a series of moves, including the surprising decision to option center fielder Aaron Hicks to Triple-A Rochester. Right-hander Trevor May was also optioned to Rochester, leaving left-hander Tommy Milone as the club's fifth starter over right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who will head to the bullpen.

The club also optioned outfielder Eddie Rosario to Rochester, while righty Mark Hamburger was reassigned to Minor League camp and will also open the year at Rochester in either the bullpen or as a starter. After the Twins' 7-1 win over the Phillies, catcher Dan Rohlfing was also reassigned to Minor League camp to leave the Twins with 30 players left in big league camp.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pinto fails concussion protocol; will retake test Sunday

Catcher still hoping to return to field by Monday

Pinto fails concussion protocol; will retake test Sunday

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins catcher Josmil Pinto, who has been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, failed a concussion protocol test on Friday but will retake it on Sunday with the hope of returning to action on Monday.

Pinto, who was hit on the head three times on follow-throughs from Baltimore's Adam Jones' swing on March 21, has to be reinstated by Major League Baseball before he makes his return to Grapefruit League play. He said Saturday he feels 100 percent and has been participating in baseball activities with no issues but failed one aspect of the test on Friday.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Healthy legs foundation of Mauer's hope to rebound

Veteran is back at first base for second season after decade behind the plate

Healthy legs foundation of Mauer's hope to rebound

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The funny, frustrating thing about those 7,883 regular-season innings Joe Mauer caught before the Twins yanked him away from the position to preserve his body? They stuck with him. Turns out, all those foul tips and bent knees and bumps to the noggin and sweaty summer nights tend to take their toll on the human body, and not even a full-time shift to first base was going to instantly heal all that ailed the former American League MVP Award winner.

"I caught for 11 years," Mauer said. "All those nicks and bruises don't just go away."

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite shaky outing, Twins pleased with May's spring

Righty competing for fifth rotation spot, unsure where he'll start

Despite shaky outing, Twins pleased with May's spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After an uneven outing against the Pirates on Friday, right-hander Trevor May said he's still not sure where he'll start the season.

May, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with left-hander Tommy Milone and right-hander Mike Pelfrey, made his final showcase start with Twins manager Paul Molitor set to announce the club's fifth starter on Saturday. May went 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and a walk. Of those eight hits, seven were for extra-bases, including a pair of homers to Gregory Polanco and Tony Sanchez, although Sanchez's homer to right was wind-aided.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dozier powers Twins' offense vs. Pirates

Second baseman's RBI triple gives Minnesota boost at the plate

Dozier powers Twins' offense vs. Pirates

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Gregory Polanco and Tony Sanchez both homered to help carry the Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Twins on Friday at Hammond Stadium. The game was called in the eighth inning due to rain.

Twins right-hander Trevor May, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, didn't help his cause by giving up seven extra-base hits in 4 2/3 innings, including the homers to Polanco and Sanchez.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins likely to name fifth starter Saturday as roster solidifies

Molitor expects to get close to 25-man roster

Twins likely to name fifth starter Saturday as roster solidifies

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins' roster situation is set to become much clearer on Saturday as manager Paul Molitor said more cuts are coming, and he expects to name the club's fifth starter.

The Twins also opened a spot on the 40-man roster on Friday as they outrighted reliever Lester Oliveros to Triple-A Rochester. He went through waivers unclaimed and leaves the Twins with 39 players on their 40-man roster.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Manfred envisions bright future for Twins

Manfred envisions bright future for Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared at Twins camp on Friday to meet with owner Jim Pohlad, who is a member of his executive council.

Pohlad said he's known Manfred for years, because Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig was especially close with Pohlad's father, Carl, who passed away in 2009. Manfred first joined Major League Baseball on a full-time basis in 1998, serving as executive vice president of economics and league affairs before he became the chief operating officer after the '13 season.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hughes feels good in Minor League outing

Twins' Opening Day starter pitches six solid innings

Hughes feels good in Minor League outing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With right-hander Trevor May taking the mound in the Grapefruit League game against the Pirates, fellow right-hander Phil Hughes pitched in a Minor League game at the Twins' complex on Friday.

Hughes, facing Class A Advanced Port Charlotte, went six innings, giving up three runs on six hits, including a two-run homer to prospect Jake Bauers, who was acquired by the Rays in the trade that sent Wil Myers to the Padres. Hughes struck out seven and threw 69 pitches. He also threw 20 more pitches in the bullpen to reach his pitch count.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stats don't tell whole story as Milone shows his mettle

Stats don't tell whole story as Milone shows his mettle

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With Twins manager Paul Molitor looking to have his roster set by this weekend, left-hander Tommy Milone likely had his last chance to make an impression on the coaching staff with his start against the Red Sox on Thursday.

Milone, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May, went five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts while facing a lineup full of Boston's regulars in Minnesota's 5-4 loss in 10 innings. It wasn't the prettiest outing, but Milone was able to limit the damage in the third and fourth innings before finishing with a clean fifth.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar's bat showing no signs of slowing down

Escobar's bat showing no signs of slowing down

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins pitcher Jake Reed entered a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the 10th inning and gave up a walk-off homer to Rusney Castillo, as the Red Sox won, 5-4, on Thursday.

Eduardo Escobar drilled a towering homer over the Green Monster against Red Sox lefty Wade Miley in the second inning, and he also contributed an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fourth. The 26-year-old now has 13 RBIs in Grapefruit League play.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins easing his way into game shape

Perkins easing his way into game shape

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Glen Perkins got his work in on the Minor League side on Thursday, as the Twins' closer tossed an easy 1-2-3 inning against the Red Sox's Class A team at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

Perkins, who missed time early in camp with a mild right oblique strain, made his fifth appearance of the spring, striking out two and needing just 11 pitches to get three outs. Perkins has said he'd like to get to three or four more Spring Training appearances (eight or nine total) before Opening Day against the Tigers on April 6.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pinto ready to catch bullpen; Duensing set to return Friday

Pinto ready to catch bullpen; Duensing set to return Friday

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins catcher Josmil Pinto and left-hander Brian Duensing are both making progress with their injuries, as Pinto's concussion-like symptoms are gone, while the swelling in Duensing's left quad has subsided.

Pinto, who was hit on the head three times on a follow-through from Orioles outfielder Adam Jones' bat on Saturday, has been taking batting practice without any issues. He also participated in pitchers' fielding practice drills on Thursday, and the next step is for him to catch a bullpen on Friday.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vargas' power, Gibson's arm not enough as Twins fall to Rays

Vargas' power, Gibson's arm not enough as Twins fall to Rays

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays' Matt Andriese and the Twins' Kyle Gibson matched up for a Grapefruit League pitchers' duel on Wednesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, as the Rays scored late to pick up a 2-1 win.

The Rays scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, off Caleb Thielbar. With two outs, Joey Butler walked, advanced to third on Joey Rickard's single and scored when Leonardo Reginatto legged out an infield single to shortstop. 

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Molitor takes Vargas under his wing

Twins skipper wants his young first baseman to not waste his power in batting practice

Molitor takes Vargas under his wing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor stood out on a back field at the team's spring complex on Tuesday, watching Kennys Vargas take batting practice.

This wasn't a passive exercise, however. Molitor, a Hall of Famer and 3,000-hit club member, would issue Vargas a reminder before each round.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fifth starter among spots Twins need to decide

Fifth starter among spots Twins need to decide

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor said after Tuesday's win over the Blue Jays that he wants to have most of his roster decisions made by this coming weekend, with the start of the regular season looming on April 6.

"I'd like to kind of have an idea of what I'm dealing with next week," Molitor said.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phil Hughes is a Jedi for Twins' Star Wars Night

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Phil Hughes is a Jedi for Twins' Star Wars Night

Last season, Phil Hughes set the record for the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio ever in MLB history. For months, baseball fans tried to figure out why -- his 11.63 K:BB ratio seemed superhuman, somehow. Magical, almost. Otherworldly, you might say.

Based on the latest Twins announcement, there appears to be a simple reason for Hughes' feat: He's a Jedi.

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Dozier signs four-year, $20 million contract

Twins second baseman hit 23 homers, scored 112 runs last season

Dozier signs four-year, $20 million contract

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brian Dozier has made it clear he wants to stay with the Twins for his entire career. While there is no guarantee of that, the second baseman and the club moved in that direction on Tuesday, as Dozier signed a four-year, $20 million contract.

Dozier is still scheduled to become a free agent after the 2018 season, but the deal buys out his three upcoming arbitration years. It also could set the stage for a longer deal that would fulfill Dozier's desire to remain with a club he sees as trending upward.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Torii hits first HR since return in Twins' walk-off win

Outfielder blasts three-run shot; Dozier homers after signing new deal

Torii hits first HR since return in Twins' walk-off win

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Torii Hunter connected for his first home run in a Twins uniform since 2007, and Eddie Rosario hit a walk-off single in the ninth inning during Minnesota's 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.

Hunter, who re-signed with the Twins this offseason, broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning with a three-run shot to left field off Toronto right-hander Chad Jenkins.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Garnett to throw first pitch at Twins' opener

Garnett to throw first pitch at Twins' opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins announced details Tuesday for their home opener at Target Field against the Royals on April 13, and NBA star Kevin Garnett will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Garnett, who returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a trade with the Nets on Feb. 19, previously played for the franchise from 1995-2007. He has a similar career trajectory to Torii Hunter, who played with the Twins from 1997-2007, before Hunter returned to Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million this offseason.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pinto improving after concussion

Pinto improving after concussion

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins catcher Josmil Pinto continues to make progress as he recovers from mild concussion symptoms, but the club has not cleared him to resume baseball activities.

"He's better," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said on Tuesday. "He's looked better every day, which is good."

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escape act by Graham impresses Molitor

Twins prospect keeps game tied despite entering with bases loaded and no outs

Escape act by Graham impresses Molitor

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Twins right-hander J.R. Graham entered Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, the Rule 5 pick faced a perilous situation. With the game tied at 1 in the seventh inning, Toronto had the bases loaded with no outs, and lefty Brian Duensing had been forced to exit the game after being hit with a comebacker.

But Graham did not fold. The 25-year-old worked Minnesota out of the jam to preserve the tie in a game the Twins would go on to win, 6-5, and perhaps moved himself a step closer to making the club's Opening Day roster.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hughes shows talent as Twins beat reporter

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Hughes shows talent as Twins beat reporter

The life of a beat reporter can be a tough one -- there's lots of travel, you're always scrounging for scoops and you need to build a deep network of sources. The benefit, of course, is that you get to watch 162 games of baseball and make a living writing about it. Who wouldn't want to do that?

Twins pitcher Phil Hughes apparently counts himself among the many aspiring baseball beat reporters out there, and on Tuesday, he dipped his toe in the water:

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Drive to surprise pays dividends for Dozier

Contract extension shows Twins believe in second baseman's numbers

Drive to surprise pays dividends for Dozier

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer, Tim Teufel, Todd Walker and, most recently, Byron Buxton, are among the Twins' prospects over the years who have served as cover boys for Baseball America. Brian Dozier never did. But that he was here -- in a lunch room at the CenturyLink Sports Complex surrounded by those young faces on the enlarged reproductions of the magazine touting tools and talents -- having his four-year, $20 million extension announced is a testament to his ability to exceed expectations.

"That's been the case my whole entire baseball career, dating back to high school," Dozier said. "No SEC school ever offered me [a scholarship]. And then not being drafted as high out of college. That's all been a big motivation of mine. Underrated is better than being overrated. That's what drives me to be the best I can be."

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Among flurry of moves, Twins option Achter to Triple-A

Club also reassigns Grimes, Beresford, Martinez, Farris, Ortiz; roster at 35

Among flurry of moves, Twins option Achter to Triple-A

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins continued to trim their roster toward a final 25 on Tuesday morning, before their Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays.

Right-hander A.J. Achter was optioned to Triple-A Rochester, while five players were reassigned to Minor League camp: catcher Tyler Grimes, infielders James Beresford and Jose Martinez and outfielders Eric Farris and Danny Ortiz. That leaves Minnesota with 35 players in big league camp, including six non-roster invitees.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.