Hughes excited to be back on mound

Righty makes first start since having rib removed last year

Hughes excited to be back on mound

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before his Spring Training debut in the Twins' 8-7 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday at JetBlue Park, right-hander Phil Hughes hadn't faced hitters in a game situation since a line drive fractured his left femur just above his knee on June 9.

Prior to the injury, Hughes also experienced pain in his throwing shoulder, which had caused fatigue in the arm and a drop in velocity. He ultimately underwent surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in July, getting a rib taken out to remove pressure on the nerves in his throwing shoulder.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Park stays hot in Grapefruit League action

Park stays hot in Grapefruit League action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox made JetBlue Park look like it was Fenway Park in the middle of the summer, riding a strong offensive attack en route to an 8-7 victory over the Twins on Saturday afternoon.

The Twins had plenty of firepower also, riding a second straight strong performance by Byungho Park, who is trying to win a roster spot after being designated for assignment in the offseason.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In quest for job, Vogelsong brings perspective

In quest for job, Vogelsong brings perspective

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong's career has been filled with ups and downs, including stints with two different teams in Japan and being released by the Pirates and Angels before turning his career around with two World Series championships with the Giants.

So Vogelsong, who made his Grapefruit League debut in the Twins' 8-7 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday, has plenty of perspective. Vogelsong's outing was a bit rocky, he gave up three runs (one earned) while recording two outs in the fourth, but it was nothing compared to what he went through last year with the Pirates when he was hit in the face by a 92-mph fastball from Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles on May 23.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Molitor juggling playing time for backup catchers

Molitor juggling playing time for backup catchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's going to continue to find ways to get playing time for John Ryan Murphy, Chris Gimenez and Mitch Garver as they compete for the backup catcher role behind starter Jason Castro.

Castro started the Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Friday with Garver serving as his backup, while Murphy was behind the plate in the Twins' 8-7 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday. Gimenez, who offers versatility because of experience at first base, third base and outfield, made his first appearance of the spring as a first baseman instead of catcher on Saturday. Murphy went 1-for-3 with a run scored, but he couldn't handle a popup behind the plate, while Gimenez went 1-for-1 with a single.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson, Park stand out in Twins' opener

Gibson, Park stand out in Twins' opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shortstop Tim Beckham, competing for a utility role, doubled and tripled to help lead the Rays to a 3-1 win over the Twins in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams Friday night at Hammond Stadium.

Byungho Park paced the offense for Minnesota, going 2-for-2 with a double off the right-field wall. Park, who was designated for assignment shortly before Spring Training, is competing with Kennys Vargas and Ben Paulsen to be the Twins' designated hitter.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson's new routine pays early dividends

Gibson's new routine pays early dividends

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Kyle Gibson, who drastically changed his workout routine this offseason to improve his delivery, came away pleased with how everything felt in his Grapefruit League debut in the Twins' opener on Friday night at Hammond Stadium, a 3-1 loss to the Rays.

Gibson looked sharp, hitting 94 mph with his fastball multiple times as he tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts, throwing 22 of his 29 pitches for strikes. But more than the results, Gibson was happy that his new routine, which includes throwing with weighted balls and a balloon-shaped ball called a connection ball, led to him feeling better on the mound.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Park steps up in first spring action

Park steps up in first spring action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After being designated for assignment on Feb. 3 and subsequently not getting selected on waivers, Byungho Park knows how much this spring could mean for his future.

Although Park isn't on the Twins' 40-man roster, he's getting a long look this spring to be the club's everyday designated hitter, competing with Kennys Vargas and fellow non-roster invitee Ben Paulsen. Park made a strong opening statement in Minnesota's Grapefruit League opener, a 3-1 loss to the Rays on Friday night, going 2-for-2 with a double off the wall in right field.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mauer, Dozier will ease into spring games

Mauer, Dozier will ease into spring games

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- First baseman Joe Mauer and second baseman Brian Dozier were both held out of the starting lineup for the Twins' Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Friday. Mauer isn't expected to play until Wednesday against the Pirates, while Dozier is slated to make his debut on Sunday against the Nationals.

Neither is injured, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's easing them into games early this spring because Spring Training is longer this year with the World Baseball Classic.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins set rotation for first 5 spring games

Gibson starts Friday, followed by Hughes, May, Santana & Santiago

Twins set rotation for first 5 spring games

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins announced their rotation for the first five Spring Training games, revealing clues about who will start Opening Day and what the competition looks like for the fifth-starter job. 

Twins manager Paul Molitor had previously announced that Kyle Gibson will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Friday night at Hammond Stadium (6:05 CT, live on Gameday Audio) and that Phil Hughes will start against the Red Sox on Saturday at JetBlue Park. Trevor May will start Sunday against the Nationals and will be piggybacked by Jose Berrios, as they're both the top two candidates for the fifth-starter job. Ervin Santana gets the nod on Monday vs. the Marlins and Hector Santiago starts Tuesday against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vargas hopes to grab regular DH role

Twins' powerful slugger focusing on elevating the ball

Vargas hopes to grab regular DH role

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kennys Vargas knows the door is wide open for him to stake his claim as the Twins' everyday designated hitter to open the season, and he's intent on making the most of his opportunity.

Vargas, a natural first baseman, had been blocked by players such as Byungho Park, Trevor Plouffe, Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer in the past. But Park was taken off the 40-man roster, Plouffe was released and Sano was moved back to third base, giving Vargas the opportunity to become the regular DH and primary backup to Mauer.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breslow hopes new delivery will be effective

Left-hander developed new pitching style based on data

Breslow hopes new delivery will be effective

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a disappointing 2016 season in which he posted a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings and was released by two teams, left-handed reliever Craig Breslow decided to reinvent himself this offseason with a new arm slot.

Breslow -- who signed with the Twins on a Minor League deal shortly before the start of Spring Training after hosting a showcase for at least 10 interested teams -- said it was simply time to make a change or risk retiring from baseball.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco's defense could be key for Twins

Molitor admits club mishandled the switch-hitter last season

Polanco's defense could be key for Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Barring anything unexpected, Jorge Polanco is expected to be Minnesota's starting shortstop on Opening Day, but manager Paul Molitor admitted that the organization didn't handle Polanco correctly in 2016.

Polanco played 75 games at Triple-A Rochester last season, but none of those came at shortstop, as he instead was the club's primary second baseman, and made two starts at third. Polanco became the Twins' everyday shortstop down the stretch, playing 47 games at the position, but showed some rust, having not played the position since the prior season.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chargois changes grip on his slider

Righty could compete in Spring Training for a spot in Twins bullpen

Chargois changes grip on his slider

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Most fans don't realize that there's any difference, but ask any player and they'll tell you the baseballs used in the Major Leagues are slightly different than the ones used in the Minors.

The seams are tighter and smaller on a Major League ball, which is made in Costa Rica, while Minor League balls are a bit easier to grip and made in China. Hard-throwing Twins reliever J.T. Chargois found out the difference when called up for the first time last year, as the way he gripped his slider wasn't conducive to the big league ball.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins tosses 3rd 'pen session without issue

Perkins tosses 3rd 'pen session without issue

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Heavy rain forced the Twins to alter their plans for their workout Wednesday morning as the drills were moved into the batting cages.

The Twins cancelled live batting practice, but pitchers threw their scheduled bullpen sessions, while hitters took regular batting practice and had meetings with hitting coach James Rowson and special instructors Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Breaking down the Twins' Top 30 Prospects

Breaking down the Twins' Top 30 Prospects

A year ago at this time, the Twins had the fifth-best system in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com. This year, they didn't place in the top 10. So what happened?

For the most part, it was a strong graduation rate. Byron Buxton, the system's No. 1 prospect for what seemed like an eternity, finally came off the list in early April. No. 2 prospect Jose Berrios and No. 3 Max Kepler followed him during the year. All three were on the overall Top 100 list. When a system loses three players of that caliber to the big leagues, it stands to reason the overall rating of the organization will take a hit.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dozier a big fan of Glove Day

Second baseman has used same model for over a decade

Dozier a big fan of Glove Day

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has used the same Wilson A2000 glove model since he was a freshman in high school in Mississippi.

Dozier immediately fell in love with the glove, and never saw any reason to change from it, not during his time at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Minor Leagues or with the Twins. So, Tuesday was an exciting day for Dozier, as it was Glove Day with representatives from Wilson Sporting Goods at Twins camp to deliver him a pair of new gloves -- one for game use and one for practice.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dream finally comes true for Twins coach

Jeff Smith gets chance to don uniform for team that drafted him

Dream finally comes true for Twins coach

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jeff Smith has dreamed about reaching the Major Leagues since he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1995.

"I've been a Minnesota Twin for almost half my life," Smith said. "I bleed Minnesota Twins."

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins president thanks fans, vows commitment

Twins president thanks fans, vows commitment

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are coming off a rough year that saw them post the worst record in the Majors, but with their new leadership led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, Twins president Dave St. Peter believes brighter days are ahead.

St. Peter is optimistic about the future and took time to give three messages to Twins fans as part of MLB.com's Presidents Day coverage on Monday. Here's what St. Peter, who has been the club's president since 2002 and is active on Twitter (@twinsprez), had to say:

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins mourn passing of journalist Simons

Longtime Minnesota area sports journalist Rod Simons has passed away at the age of 56, the Twins have confirmed.

Simons, who spent the last two decades covering sports in various parts of the country, passed away in Fort Meyers, Fla., while covering Twins Spring Training. He is survived by his wife, Pamela, and daughter, Annie.

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins' players take part in unique spring drills

Twins' players take part in unique spring drills

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins are having a ball with drills at Spring Training.

Of course, there are the thousands of baseballs the club brought down to Fort Myers. There are even more than a few golf balls floating around the clubhouse.

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Slegers learning to fit in with Twins

Nearly 7-foot-tall pitcher uses spring to work on consistency

Slegers learning to fit in with Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In his first Major League Spring Training camp, Minnesota Twins pitcher Aaron Slegers is just trying to blend in.

That's easier said than done when you are nearly 7 feet tall.

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Molitor: Twins can learn from last season

Manager sets optimistic tone for Minnesota's first full-squad workout

Molitor: Twins can learn from last season

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before the Twins held their first official full-squad workout on Sunday, Twins manager Paul Molitor addressed all 62 players in camp, trying to the set the tone for the 2017 season.

Coming off a 103-loss season, Molitor remained optimistic, as he believes the Twins can learn from last year, despite the results.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After whirlwind winter, Haley ready to grind

Rule 5 pick pitched in Dominican Winter League, got married before landing with Twins

After whirlwind winter, Haley ready to grind

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Justin Haley was preparing to make his final start for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League on Nov. 18, he received word from the Red Sox that he wasn't going to be added to the 40-man roster.

Haley shook off the bad news, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings to finish with a 0.38 ERA in five starts. But it was the start of a whirlwind for Haley, who got married eight days later and was taken in the Rule 5 Draft 12 days after that.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

May game for eSports involvement

May game for eSports involvement

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As a Twins pitcher and an avid gamer, Trevor May knows plenty about what it takes to succeed in sports and eSports.

So the right-hander is lending his experience as an athlete into a new partnership with Luminosity Gaming, a professional eSports organization. May will be part of its "Stream Team" on Twitch.tv, and he will serve as a brand ambassador.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins could open season on disabled list

Closer throws successful 'pen session but still good chance of shelf time

Perkins could open season on disabled list

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins closer Glen Perkins continues to make progress in his recovery from labrum surgery, as he threw his second bullpen session of the spring without any issues on Saturday.

Twins manager Paul Molitor watched the 15-pitch session and came away pleased with what he saw, but he cautioned that it's early in the process and there's still a good chance Perkins could open the season on the disabled list.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Erv ball: Santana likely Twins' Opening Day starter

Erv ball: Santana likely Twins' Opening Day starter

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor essentially revealed that veteran Ervin Santana will be the club's Opening Day starter for a second straight season, but he hasn't told the right-hander about the decision in person yet.

Santana was easily Minnesota's best starter in 2016, posting a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts. He also started on Opening Day for the first time in his career, but his outing in Baltimore was cut short because of rain after only two innings. He'll be looking for a longer outing when the Twins open the season against the Royals on April 3 at Target Field.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.