FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins traded for Pablo Lopez during the offseason to bolster their rotation.
On Friday, the former Miami Marlins standout was named the starter for Opening Day in Kansas City by manager Rocco Baldelli.
"It felt really cool," Lopez said Friday. "Obviously, being part of a rotation, being able to go every five days and just do my job and help the team is already an honor. For Rocco to tell me he wanted me to have the ball the very first game on Opening Day obviously meant the world to me."
Lopez, a five-year veteran righthander who posted a 3.75 ERA and struck out 174 batters in 32 starts for the Marlins last season, was acquired in January when the Twins sent American League batting champion Luis Arraez to Miami.
The Twins play the Marlins in the second series of the season, so the two will get a chance to face each other.
"It would just be fun. It's funny I would still pitch in Miami before I pitch at Target Field," said Lopez, 27.
The Twins rotation likely will be Lopez, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle. Ryan was last year's Opening Day starter for the Twins and Maeda got the nod in 2021. Mahle (last season) and Gray (2020) have both been Opening Day starters for the Reds.
The Twins' home opener is April 6 at Target Field against World Series champion Houston.
"From the moment I got traded I just felt very encouraged," Lopez said. "What the Minnesota Twins had to trade, the piece they traded, the person ... I got to spend some time with Luis and I could see why so many fans were upset in a way because they traded such a good player."
All 30 Opening Day starters were revealed on Friday morning.
Minor leaguers lead the way
Two of the Twins' top prospects paved the way for a 6-4 victory over the Yankees in Tampa on Friday.
Emmanuel Rodriguez belted a three-run home run in the top of the ninth as the Twins rallied from a 4-2 deficit to win. And Edouard Julien had two hits, including an eighth inning home run.
Lopez started for the Twins, giving up two runs in three innings, before Maeda took over and pitched five innings. Maeda gave up two runs and two hits and struck out five to pick up the win.
Anthony Volpe homered for New York.