Haley learning from interesting situation

Righty's best chance to make team may come as reliever

Haley learning from interesting situation

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins Rule 5 Draft pick Justin Haley faced his toughest test yet on Sunday, and it came against his original organization, the Red Sox, which he admitted was a little bit of a weird experience.

Haley, who had spent the previous four Spring Trainings with Boston at Fenway South, had an up and down outing in Minnesota's 13-8 win at JetBlue Park, as he was charged with four runs on five hits over two-plus innings, but also struck out four and wasn't exactly helped by his outfield defense, including a bloop triple Drew Stubbs couldn't handle in center to lead off the second.

"I took a lot of positives from today," Haley said. "I pitched a lot better than my line score shows. I just went out there and had fun and tried to compete against a good lineup. Made some mental mistakes more than physical, but I think if I studied the lineup and knew tendencies of guys, I'd be able to correct them, no problem."

Haley is in an interesting situation, as the Twins have stretched him out to start, but his best chance to make the team remains as a reliever. He didn't even know he was starting on Sunday until he got to the clubhouse, and said he's trying to make the most of the situation.

"I'm just working on getting guys out," said Haley, who has a 7.59 ERA in 10 2/3 innings this spring. "Unfortunately, the position I'm in is less work on stuff and more get results and make a team. I have no control over anything else. I like where my pitches are right now, but I just have to keep improving."

Haley, 25, must stay on Minnesota's 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to the Red Sox. He can also be kept via a trade with Boston.

"We're still holding out on how it's going to unfold," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's still in the fight. His status is a part of the equation."

Haley admitted it's a tough spot to be in, as he doesn't know if he'll break camp with the Twins, or if he'll head back to Boston's organization, where he'd open in the Minors.

"It can be nerve-wracking," Haley said. "I try to go about my day working and building and trying to improve. I'll get a lift in tomorrow, throw a side on Tuesday and keep doing my thing as long as they want me to."

And as for his next outing, Haley hasn't been told anything, but said he's ready for whatever the Twins ask of him.

"I'll let you know in a couple days," Haley said. "You'll see me in that big round thing in the middle of the field."

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.