PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Third baseman Danny Valencia was one of four players that the Twins optioned to Triple-A Rochester following Friday's game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
In addition to Valencia, infielders Luke Hughes and Trevor Plouffe and right-handed pitcher Anthony Swarzak were also among the club's cuts on Friday.
Valencia had been considered to be in competition for the starting third-base job, so his early cut from camp came as a bit of surprise. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire explained that the moves were all due to a rule regarding the club's 40-man roster.
Friday was the last day that teams could option a player from their 40-man roster who did not finish the year in the Majors last season and prevent the possibility of him winding up on the Major League disabled list. Had any of the players been kept in camp and suffered an injury, they must be kept on the Major League disabled list and could earn a full year of Major League service time.
That's why in order to avoid the risk, teams often send down players who are not likely to make the Opening Day roster before that deadline.
"I would have loved to have kept [all of] them over here and had them play all through spring here," Gardenhire said. "But unfortunately there are rules and stipulations that come into effect."
The move to option Valencia came after he hit a home run off former Twins pitcher Johan Santana in Friday's 7-3 exhibition win against the Mets. Valencia batted .273 (6-for-22) with two doubles, two home runs and four RBIs in 11 games this spring.
Valencia did "fine" while competing for the third-base job, Gardenhire said, but it was clear to the manager that there are still things the 25-year-old prospect needs to work on.
"He's still got to learn where to play guys defensively and all those things," Gardenhire said. "His bat seems good, but there's things he's going to have work on, hitting the breaking ball and all those things. We saw teams that knew him down here they were spinning a lot of balls. ... But I guarantee you one thing: He can hit a fastball, and if he sits on a breaking ball, he can hit that, too."
Valencia will begin the year in Rochester, as was expected heading into the spring. The feeling within the organization has been that he needs a bit more seasoning in the Minors, but it's possible that Valencia could make his Major League debut at some point this season.
"We're going to go away here with our infield, and if anybody has any issues, he'll get a chance," Gardenhire said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.