Day@Camp Daily Dispatch From Fort Myers
Twins cut roster to 36 after releasing Duda, reassigning 4
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lucas Duda was an extreme long shot to make the Twins out of spring training. He batted .258 during exhibition games, with a few flashes of the bat that has made him a longtime major leaguer.
The Twins have some work to do to get their roster down to 25 before Opening Day in one week. So they released Duda so he could pursue a job elsewhere. He was one of five players removed from camp Wednesday as the Twins trimmed their roster to 36 players.
In addition to Duda, the Twins reassigned righthanders Jake Reed and Ryan Eades, lefthander Justin Nicolino and catcher Wynston Sawyer to the minor league camp.
Duda, a veteran of nine major league seasons, was signed as a minor league free agent Feb. 9. He had eight hits in 31 at-bats with three doubles while drawing seven walks. He had an out clause on his contract for Friday if it didn't look like he had a chance to make the team, but the Twins are giving a couple extra days to find a better fit.
"Lucas has been a tremendous teammate, veteran guy, good fit down there, quality person," Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said. "Lucas was truly appreciative of the opportunity he had here."
The Twins are now down to 36 players in camp, including 18 pitchers. Keep in mind that third baseman Miguel Sano and lefthander Gabriel Moya will start the season on the disabled list.
Falvey didn't rule out Duda returning to the Twins, but it likely would be on another minor league deal.
Righthander Michael Pineda struck out the final two batters he faced Wednesday as he tossed five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 3.52 in exhibition games. He gave up two hits and walked one while striking out five.
"For a guy coming off the injuries that he has, I think this was a great outing for him as we're getting close to breaking camp," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think he felt very good about how it went. I think I and the rest of the staff also feel the same way, and it's not just because you look up and don't see very many hits or runs on the board. I think the execution was excellent."
Pineda, who recovered from Tommy John surgery in 2017, made several quality pitches to finish off hitters as he looks more than comfortable as he prepares to make his first major league start since July 5, 2017, when he was with the Yankees.
Righthander Jake Odorizzi has made his past two appearances in minor league exhibition games. That includes Wednesday, when he took the bus to Port Charlotte and faced the Rays Class AAA team. The Twins report that Odorizzi pitched six innings but did not provide details. Mitch Garver took the trip and caught him. Baldelli said he was unsure where Odorizzi's next outing would take place.
Some teams will allow veterans to pitch in minor league games so they can work on certain things, hide him from a future opponent or so they can evaluate someone else.
The Twins have a scheduled off day Thursday, their second and final off day before camp breaks. They will return Friday to play host to Boston. The matchup: Kyle Gibson vs. Chris Sale.
La Velle E. Neal III