FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins made their first round of roster cuts Monday while taking one step toward solving their fifth starter riddle.
One of the cuts was lefthander Lewis Thorpe, who entered camp in the running for one of the starting spots. He missed nine days to take care of a personal issue.
Thorpe was 3-2 with a 6.18 ERA as a Twins rookie in 2019, but he showed enough that the club was willing to consider him for a starting role. But his camp absence affected his ability to get stretched out as well as impress the bosses. As starters approaching the 70-pitch mark in their progressions — requiring more innings — the Twins have to clear the decks for that to happen.
“It was an abbreviated camp for him, so any of our starting pitchers, anyone that we’re trying to lengthen out, there are schedules, there are protocols, there are things that we like to roughly stick to,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after a 3-0 loss to St. Louis at Hammond Stadium. “With him, that wasn’t going to be the case and I think this allows him to go and prepare at the right speed to get ready for a season and a season as a starting pitcher.”
Thorpe did not appear in any spring training games because of his absence. That leaves righthanders Randy Dobnak and Jhoulys Chacin and lefthander Devin Smeltzer in contention for the final rotation spot.
Also sent out were righthanders Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers; infielders Travis Blankenhorn and Nick Gordon; and outfielder Gilberto Celestino.
Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been slowed by gastritis as he attempts to break through the minor league ceiling and make the big leagues.
Romero on restricted list
Fernando Romero went on the restricted list, which enables the Twins to free up a spot on the 40-man roster while keeping him under club control. Romero remains in the Dominican Republic with visa issues.
“We just made the decision at this point with the roster status and where things were tracking,” Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said. “It just made the most sense, with sending out a number of guys now, just to make the official transaction. Nothing new in terms of return information. We just need to continue to wait on the visa processing. That’s it.”
The Twins now have 55 players in camp and 38 spots occupied on their 40-man roster.
Buxton batting practice
Outfielder Byron Buxton will pass through another checkpoint Tuesday when he takes live batting practice for the first time since last season.
“You know I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself and start laying schedules out,” Baldelli said, “but again, he’s hit all of his marks. I don’t think it’s too long before you could see him in game action, but we’re going to get through tomorrow first and hopefully that goes well. We have no reason to believe it won’t and then go from there.”
Buxton will face righthander Homer Bailey and some minor league pitchers on one of the back fields. The hope remains that he can be ready in time for Opening Day, but that would require him to get a lot of work in during the final two weeks of camp.
The Twins head to Clearwater on Tuesday to take on the Phillies. Righthander Sean Poppen, who made his major league debut last season, starts for the Twins against former free-agent target Zack Wheeler.