Most of us have a pretty good idea of who has a chance to make the opening day roster and who doesn't, but there are still a couple of other players hanging around. Let's take a full run at listing who's still in camp for the Twins, and then we'll run through those position battles to see which players we need to keep an eye on over the last few days of spring training.
Right-handed pitchers (11)
Blaine Boyer*, Casey Fien, Kyle Gibson, J.R. Graham, Mark Hamburger*, Phil Hughes, Trevor May, Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, Ervin Santana, Tim Stauffer
Left-handed pitchers (5)
Brian Duensing, Tommy Milone, Glen Perkins, Caleb Thielbar, Aaron Thompson
Eric Fryer*, Josmil Pinto, Dan Rohlfing*, Kurt Suzuki
Doug Bernier*, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas
Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Torii Hunter, Eduardo Nunez, Eddie Rosario, Shane Robinson*, Jordan Schafer
* denotes non-roster invitee
Final bullpen spots
We can ignore the race for the fifth spot in the rotation, because that's going to go to one of Trevor May, Tommy Milone, and Mike Pelfrey. The runner-up in that race will be charged with taking over the long relief role. It still seems likely that May is the odd man out, for a number of reasons, but he's pitched well and he's still in camp so we can't write him off quite yet. It would be a pleasant surprise to see his name on the opening day roster in some fashion.
While nothing can ever be a foregone conclusion in this game, Minnesota's bullpen locks appear to be Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing, Tim Stauffer, and one of May, Milone, and Pelfrey. This leaves us with two open spots.
Blaine Boyer, J.R. Graham, Mark Hamburger, Caleb Thielbar, and Aaron Thompson are in competition for those two roles. Should the Twins chose to take one right-hander and one left-hander, Graham and Thielbar seem like the most logical options; Graham as a Rule 5 pick who needs 90 active days on the roster and Thielbar for his Major League track record and experience with the organization. Can Boyer and/or Thompson push for those spots?
With Josmil Pinto's concussion, even if he checks out as clean the timing makes his spot on the opening day roster dubious. Chris Herrmann, officially listed as an outfielder, has caught 37.2 innings this spring. That's far more than any of the other positions he's played. Eric Fryer has caught 42 innings. The advantage here has to lie in Herrmann's favor as he's already on the 40-man roster.
This is the messiest situation. To be clear: Danny Santana has played exactly zero innings in center field this spring, and considering how vocal Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor have been about him it's unlikely he'll end up anywhere other than shortstop.
That leaves us with Aaron Hicks, Jordan Schafer, and Shane Robinson, and no shortage of scenarios. Hicks in center with Schafer as the fourth outfielder is the most straight-forward option, but what if the organization decides Hicks hasn't done enough? Schafer could start in center, allowing Santana and Eduardo Escobar the opportunity to take a game here or a few innings there. Or the Twins could add Robinson to the 40-man roster, and pair him with Schafer as a dynamic all-glove-no-bat duo.
And coming down the backstretch is Eddie Rosario. Could the Twins trust him with an everyday job in center field? After the Hicks scenario, it doesn't seem unlikely...even if it would be momentarily gratifying to see another prospect.
Pinto's concussion has thrown a wrench in the works here, as the Pinto-Schafer-Escobar-Nunez bench that we all assumed was a relatively safe bet is no longer so. Add in the uncertainty of Hicks and we could see any number of combinations.
- Catcher: Chris Herrmann, Eric Fryer
- Outfielder: Jordan Schafer, Shane Robinson
- Infielder: Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez
Care to make a prediction what the bench will look like? You can only take four of the above, as Hicks nor Rosario would be anything but a starter.