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Molitor close to finalizing roster, rotation

Skipper still determining number of starting pitchers to begin season
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor held extensive talks with his staff and the front office about the roster on Wednesday and said he hopes to announce his Opening Day starter and rotation on Thursday.

Molitor said he plans to open with 12 pitchers but hasn't determined whether he'll go with four starters to open the year because of off-days or stick with five. Right-hander Phil Hughes starts on Thursday against the Yankees, and how he looks could play a factor in whether he starts the year as the fifth starter or in long relief.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor held extensive talks with his staff and the front office about the roster on Wednesday and said he hopes to announce his Opening Day starter and rotation on Thursday.

Molitor said he plans to open with 12 pitchers but hasn't determined whether he'll go with four starters to open the year because of off-days or stick with five. Right-hander Phil Hughes starts on Thursday against the Yankees, and how he looks could play a factor in whether he starts the year as the fifth starter or in long relief.

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"We don't have a ton of time left," Molitor said. "We talked rather extensively today about how things are shaping up the next few days and how we're going to get down to where we need to by the time we break, in terms of the 25-man."

Video: MIN@NYY: Hughes on his solid one-run outing

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi is the favorite to start on Opening Day against the Orioles on March 29; he's lined up for the start with his next spring start slated for Saturday. Fellow right-hander Jose Berrios, who gave up one run on three hits over five innings against the Pirates on Wednesday, was originally on track to start the regular-season opener, but the rotation was shuffled to allow him a chance to pitch in his native Puerto Rico against the Indians on April 17 or 18.

"It would mean a lot," Berrios said. "Now we're getting closer to that date, I'm excited to pitch there in front of my family and friends in Puerto Rico."

The Twins also must decide how the bullpen will look, as the Twins will carry seven or eight relievers depending on how many starters they open with. Closer Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Addison Reed are locks, while Ryan Pressly, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger have struggled a bit this spring but are considered highly likely to make the club.

Tyler Kinley, a Rule 5 pick, has impressed with his stuff this spring and could make the club unless they decide to keep him via a trade with the Marlins so he's not subject to Rule 5 restrictions. Lefty Gabriel Moya also has had a strong spring and has an outside shot at making the team, while Alan Busenitz has scuffled and is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster.

Video: MIN@PHI: Kinley starts off his relief outing with a K

On the position-player side, the Twins have an extra spot to work with following the suspension of Jorge Polanco. They could decide to use it on veteran non-roster invitee Erick Aybar as another utility infielder, along with Ehire Adrianza, or they could keep both Robbie Grossman and Zack Granite on the roster as extra outfielders. If Aybar makes the club, they'll have to choose between Grossman, who is out of options, and Granite.

Molitor said whittling down the roster hasn't been easy, but he's happy the club has more depth than in recent years, making the decisions more difficult.

"I think it's extremely hard, but in a good way," Molitor said. "It's not like I'm searching for people to fill out. We have plenty to fill it out. It's about getting it to 25. We talk about the spotlight of making the 25-man roster on Opening Day, but in reality, it sometimes doesn't last that long with roster moves."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Injury updates

• Left fielder Eddie Rosario started in left field against the Pirates on Wednesday, marking his first start in the outfield since suffering a right triceps strain on March 4. Rosario also played left field in a Minor League game on Sunday and shouldn't face any throwing restrictions leading up to Opening Day.

Up next: Hughes starts against the Yankees on Thursday at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium, and has a lot on the line, as how he performs could dictate whether he begins the year as a starter or a long reliever. Relievers scheduled to see action include Rodney, Reed, Duke, Pressly and Moya. The game can be viewed on MLB.TV.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins