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Pinto says shoulder discomfort behind him

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Catcher Josmil Pinto, who dealt with shoulder weakness this offseason while playing winter Ball in his native Venezuela, said Tuesday that he's now throwing without any discomfort.

Pinto ended his stint in winter Ball early because of shoulder discomfort, but said he's now playing catch from 150 feet and throwing to all the bases without any issues.

"My shoulder is good now," Pinto said. "I'm almost at 100 percent. I don't feel any pain right now. I started throwing about two or three weeks [ago] and it's feeling really good now."

Pinto, 24, is regarded as the Twins' catcher of the future after putting up impressive numbers in the Minors and then hitting .342 with four homers and five doubles in 21 games as a September callup.

But he still needs work defensively, and so he knows this spring will be important for him to prove that he's ready to catch at the Major League level.

"It's very important, because this is the moment where I want to make the 25-man roster," Pinto said. "I have to work hard and then see what happens."

Veteran Kurt Suzuki is expected to be the club's regular catcher, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that he's fine with Pinto sharing time behind the plate with Suzuki. The Twins could also send Pinto to Triple-A Rochester to get him consistent playing time, but Gardenhire said he's fine with Pinto not being the everyday catcher in Minnesota this season.

"I don't have a problem with him splitting time with Suzuki," Gardenhire said. "That could be part of his development. Learning process, catch some on the side. Match him with certain pitchers that look good [when] they work together. No, I don't have a problem with that, he can develop that way, too. He doesn't have to be an everyday guy. I wouldn't put it like that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
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