Notes: Rincon in no rush to return

Notes: Rincon in no rush to return

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's a sight that can always be counted on during the first day of Spring Training workouts -- pitchers throwing their first bullpen session of the season.

But there was one Twins pitcher who was noticeably absent from throwing on the mound on Monday.

Juan Rincon stood on the side and watched as some of his teammates shook off some of the dust that had gathered over the offseason. Rincon underwent surgery in October to remove bone chips and a bone spur from his right elbow. Though he has yet to throw off a mound, Rincon has been able to maintain some level of activity.

"I've been playing catch and tossing and all that stuff, but I'm not going to throw off the mound," Rincon said. "It's just a matter of time to get my arm back, used to throwing again. It's just a little weak right now."

Before coming up to Minnesota for the team's annual winter caravan, Rincon had been starting to toss the ball around, but he started to feel some soreness. He talked with team doctors when he arrived in Minnesota and decided that it was best to quiet down the activity.

"I had [gotten] up to throwing about 150 feet, but they told we that I was way ahead of time and not to be throwing that far," Rincon said. "I was feeling good and thought it was OK, but it started to get a little sore, so I shut it down."

Since arriving in Fort Myers, Rincon has once again started his throwing routine. The right-handed reliever is already throwing about 120 feet. Though it's a bit of a delay in his usual workouts, it's nothing that concerns the Twins' staff.

"Everything is fine and everything is good -- he's just not going to be in the rotation for pitching right away," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Rincon said that he expects to start throwing off the mound in about a week or so. Despite not having thrown a pitch since the last game of last season, Rincon isn't in a huge hurry to rush back.

"I'm feeling good, but I don't want to go too fast," Rincon said. "Better safe than sorry."

Difficult to evaluate: Determining exactly who should be the No. 5 starter in the Twins rotation may be even harder that the club had anticipated.

That's because one of the top two candidates for the role, lefty Francisco Liriano, could miss some time at camp to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Gardenhire said on Monday that Liriano was added to the provisional roster for his home country, the Dominican Republic. It was something that the Twins skipper found out only Sunday afternoon, and he acknowledged that it adds a little wrench into the evaluation process.

"It does make it a little bit more difficult if he's pitching for the World Games and not in our rotation," Gardenhire said. "But you can't do anything about those things. That's what baseball wants and we're all being a part of it."

It is still unknown if Liriano will compete, as rosters don't have to be finalized until five days before the start of the tournament. As for whether it will affect Liriano's chances of earning the final spot if he does get the opportunity to go, Gardenhire was pretty adamant that wouldn't be the case.

"I'm not going to punish a guy just because he's going to the World Games," Gardenhire said. "It's hard to get a look at him there, but all you can do is see how he does."

Like the first day of school: There was no doubt about what part of the team's first workout on Monday was the favorite for Gardenhire.

"The trainer says no injuries," Gardenhire said with a smile. "That's a good thing."

The club's pitchers and catchers saw a light day of drills and workouts on Day 1. Three separate stations were set up for the pitchers to go through signs on one field, fundamentals on another and then the bullpen sessions. Catchers also took part in some batting practice and caught a few pop flies.

"That's pretty much what you get on the first day," Gardenhire said. "We can only do so much with the pitchers, so that was a good first-day workout."

New faces: Due to the number of pitchers that the Twins will be losing to the WBC and the extra caution in starting off Rincon slow, the team added two more pitchers to the list of non-roster invitees on Monday.

Right-handers Kevin Cameron and Julio DePaula joined the Twins in Fort Myers on Monday. Cameron pitched last season for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, while DePaula spent all of 2005 with the Class A Fort Myers Miracle.

The extra arms should give the team a little more leeway since it will lose Joe Nathan, Carlos Silva, Johan Santana, Dennys Reyes, Jesse Crain and possibly even Liriano for an unknown number of Spring Training games.

"We want to make sure that we're not short on people, so we added those two young men from our Minor League system," Gardenhire said. "We're very excited to have them, and I'm sure they're very excited to be here."

Overheard: "Be careful! You've got to remember I've got a bad hammy here," -- Gardenhire, as he jumped to catch a ball over his head. The Twins manager recently pulled that same hamstring while bowling in a celebrity tournament in St. Paul.

Bits and pieces: Four players in the Twins organization were named to the Australian team for the WBC. Infielders Luke Hughes and Glenn Williams and outfielders Trent Oeltjen and Paul Rutgers were selected for the country's 30-man roster. Williams is the only one of the four participating in Major League camp. ... A few notable position players that have reported early and taken part in some early hitting on Monday are Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, Jason Bartlett, Justin Morneau and Nick Punto. ... The Twins will have 139 of their regular-season games televised this upcoming season. Fox Sports Net will air 113 games, including the Twins' season opener on April 4 at Toronto. The other 26 broadcasts will be shown on Channel 29 WFTC.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.