- The starting outfield: All indication seem that the Twins will go with Span at Center Field and Willingham at right field, whereas there will be a platoon of Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe at left. This will happen, unless one of the two left fielders will have either a very impressive or very unimpressive season, which will result in bench relegation (or in Revere's case because, unlike Plouffe, he has options, in a trip to Rochester.) Another issue that needs to be resolved is how Willingham's defense is at RF. If he has problems and becomes the starting left fielder, the mix will need to be re-looked and Doumit also added to the equation. So far Willingham did not have problems in the single game he played on the field, and both Plouffe and Revere have been performing well with the bat (even though Revere has a gaffe on the base paths against Boston the other day. Also, Denard Span seems to be better as far as his concussion goes, since he had a couple of mishaps, including french-kissing the chain link fence at Center Field to save a home run, and he reportedly had no concussion issues. He also got two hits against the Rays
- The bench. As I speculated previously, Luke Hughes and Trevor Plouffe are virtual locks, since they are out of options, and this will likely leave 2 additional spots. If indeed there are 3 catchers in the roster, JR Towles (with an RBI single in the B game and a two-run home run against Tampa Bay, in three plate appearances) and Rene Rivera (with a runner thrown out and a single in two plate appearances, moved ahead of Drew Butera who has not reached base yet in 5 plate appearances this spring. Chris Herrmann has an RBI single in his only plate appearance, but he likely is not considered for the major league roster. From the other position players fighting for a spot, Aaron Bates and Chris Parmelee each hit a 2-run home run (Bates in the B game and Parmelee against Tampa Bay) and Mastroianni has been pretty efficient with a hit, a walk and a stolen base in three plate appearances. Burroughs is 2 for 4 (a double) with two walks, but participated with Nishioka in a very bad fielding play against Boston yesterday. Nishioka has 2 hits, including a triple, in 8 trips, so is still working on his swing. Brian Dozier, a fans' darling, who I do not think that has any chances to make the team, at least in April, went hitless in 2 trips against Boston yesterday and had an RBI single in the B game.
- The bullpen. I have previously introduced and analyzed the combatants for 3 spots here. Jason Bulger has put himself in a hole with a very bad (4BB, a single and a grand slam, a third of an inning) performance against Boston, which followed surrendering a run in the B game. I think that it will be very hard to crawl out of that hole. Carlos Gutierrez had an almost equally bad performance in the B game, getting 2 outs and surrendering 3 walks and a double for 2 runs. Phil Dumatrait allowed 2 runs in 2 hits and a walk against Boston. Jeff Manship, Brandon Wise, Deolis Guerra, Matt Maloney (he struck out the side vs Tampa), Alex Burnett, Aaron Thompson, Esmerling Vasquez, Kyle Waldrop and Jared Burton pitched a scoreless inning each. Terry Doyle and PJ Walters pitched 2 scoreless innings each. Doyles' performance was a no-hit performance, even though he hit a batter and walked another. Despite allowing a run in a solo home run, who was the only batter who reached against him, Luis Perdomo had an impressive performance against Tampa Bay, striking out 2 batters. At this point, Bulger, Gutierrez and Doumatrait seem to be behind the pack, whereas Maloney (if they carry 3 lefties in the pen), Doyle, Perdomo, Burton and Waldrop seem to be ahead of the pack. There still are a lot of games ahead, but the first cuts will be very soon, since the Minor League Camp is opening tomorrow
As always, you can find all the Spring Training news and analysis on this site here.