Twins tab Odorizzi as Opening Day starter
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Jake Odorizzi's first start with the Twins will come on Opening Day, as he's slated to start against the Orioles on March 29 at Camden Yards, manager Paul Molitor said Thursday.
Odorizzi, who was acquired in a trade with the Rays for infield prospect Jermaine Palacios on Feb. 17, will start the regular-season opener for the first time in his six-year career. He'll be followed in the rotation by right-handers Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios and Lance Lynn, as Minnesota is sticking with a four-man rotation early in the season because of off-days, leaving Phil Hughes to pitch in long relief until they need a fifth starter on April 11.
"It's an opportunity for somebody to put it on their resume," Molitor said of Opening Day. "I don't get too caught up in that, and I'm sure that's what a lot of manager's say. But I do get that it's an honor."
Berrios, coming off a breakout sophomore season, was a top candidate to start on Opening Day, but the Twins are lining him up to start the first game of their two-game series against the Indians in his native Puerto Rico on April 17. Gibson, who had a huge second half and is longest-tenured Twins pitcher in the rotation, will start the home opener against the Mariners on April 5.
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Odorizzi, who turns 28 on Tuesday, posted a 4.14 ERA in 28 starts with the Rays last year, but he was plagued by back issues. He has a career 3.83 ERA in 129 appearances (126 starts).
Odorizzi gets the nod on Opening Day with right-hander Ervin Santana still not throwing after undergoing surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right middle finger in early February. Santana started the regular-season opener for Minnesota in 2016 and '17.