Twins, Molitor officially begin 2016

Several tough decisions await coaching staff this spring

February 21st, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins officially opened Spring Training on Sunday, as all 38 pitchers and catchers reported without any issues and are set to participate in the first official workouts Monday at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

Position players don't report until Friday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday. But several position players are already at the complex working out, including Korean slugger Byung Ho Park, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana and Oswaldo Arcia.

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"I think it's probably up," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said of the number of early arrivals. "We have a lot of people here and people who want to get out of the northern climates. We have guys competing for jobs. So I'd say it would make a lot of sense for guys to show up a tad early. It's not required that they come early, so it's a good sign."

It's the second year for Twins manager Paul Molitor, who finished third in the balloting for the American League Manager of the Year Award last year after guiding the Twins to their first winning record since 2010.

Molitor plans on running Spring Training similar to 2015, with an emphasis on both improving baserunning and stopping opposing teams' basestealing.

"The second one is different than the first," Molitor said. "But there won't be any major changes. There were some things that will be at the forefront like last spring. Baserunning wasn't fantastic. Defending baserunning wasn't fantastic. So that's what we'll talk about with the pitchers. But I'd rather them get guys out than be overly consumed with those things. But there aren't going to be major overhauls."

Molitor and the rest of his coaching staff will nevertheless have some interesting decisions this spring, as there are openings in both the rotation and bullpen -- as well as a crowded outfield that features plenty of youngsters such as Byron Buxton, Sano and Rosario. Buxton, ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect by, will have to earn the job in center field, while Sano has to adjust to moving to right field.

"I have a lot of outfielders I have to try to find at-bats for," Molitor said. "Sano is going to have to play a lot with the new position."

The front of the rotation is set with Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes, leaving others such as Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Jose Berrios to compete for the final two spots. Based on his 10 starts down the stretch last year, Duffey has a strong case to be in the rotation but has to have a strong spring to beat out veterans such as Milone and Nolasco.

Molitor also clarified the catching situation, as Kurt Suzuki remains the club's primary backstop, with John Ryan Murphy set to be his backup. Murphy was acquired this offseason from the Yankees in exchange for center fielder Aaron Hicks. The two are among eight catchers in camp, but barring injury, it'll be Suzuki and Murphy on the Opening Day roster.

It all leads up to the first Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox on March 2 at JetBlue Park. The Twins open the regular season on April 4 against the Orioles in Baltimore.