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Will Matt Tolbert Make the Trip North?

Somebody always gets left out that deserves to make the team on Opening Day.  What are Tolbert's chances?

Like any other question about roster space, the answer is dependent on a number of other factors.  Injuries, how many pitchers the team decides to use, performances by peers and team goals (both long and short term) all have to be negotiated, and it's rarely an easy list to get through.

So far this spring, Matt Tolbert is second on the team in plate appearances, behind only Denard Span.  He's getting plenty of chances.  The glove has been solid if unspectacular, and you could probably say the same thing about his range.  If there's been a problem it's been the results he'd been getting at the plate until Sunday; he's been 8-for-13 since, including a pair of walks which has helped him earn a .368 OBP.

The biggest obstacle for Tolbert to overcome, however, may not be his individual performance, because for the most part he's been just fine.  His biggest obstacle might simply be the number of infielders considered to be higher on the depth chart.  Joe Crede and Nick Punto are penciled in as the starters at third base and shortstop, with Alexi Casilla the incumbant at second.  Brian Buscher is having a great spring and has earned himself a soft spot with the organization, and Brendan Harris (also having a good spring) offers the same defensive flexibility as Tolbert.  All six of those players, no matter how good they play this spring, can't make the team.

Unless the Twins decide to take only 11 pitchers north.  A five-man bench could incude a catcher (Mike Redmond), an outfielder (the unlucky guy of the day) and three infielders.

This would push a more difficult decision to the bullpen, where R.A. Dickey, Brian Duensing, Jose Mijares and Luis Ayala would be fighting for the sixth bullpen spot.  Even if the Twins go with 12 pitchers (likely leaving Tolbert the odd man out), they're already facing a difficult decision or two with their relief arms.

Whatever the case turns out to be, Opening Day is only 11 days away.  Somebody is going to get some bad news in that time.