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Molitor relying on Twins' 'pen for 2-frame stints

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

BALTIMORE -- With the Twins deciding to go with a four-man rotation and eight relievers, none of whom are stretched out enough to be long relievers, Twins manager Paul Molitor said he told several members of his bullpen to be ready to pitch two-inning stints.

Molitor has already deployed that strategy, using Addison Reed for two scoreless innings on Thursday and then going to Ryan Pressly for two innings in relief of Kyle Gibson on Saturday with a no-hitter going. Pressly pitched well but lost the no-hitter on a two-out single from Jonathan Schoop in the eighth.

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BALTIMORE -- With the Twins deciding to go with a four-man rotation and eight relievers, none of whom are stretched out enough to be long relievers, Twins manager Paul Molitor said he told several members of his bullpen to be ready to pitch two-inning stints.

Molitor has already deployed that strategy, using Addison Reed for two scoreless innings on Thursday and then going to Ryan Pressly for two innings in relief of Kyle Gibson on Saturday with a no-hitter going. Pressly pitched well but lost the no-hitter on a two-out single from Jonathan Schoop in the eighth.

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Molitor met with his relievers before the start of the season to go over his plan and let pitchers such as Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, Gabriel Moya and Pressly know they could be counted on for multiple innings.

"Coming out of spring without a long man, Pressly, Rogers, Hildenberger and Moya know that two-inning stints won't be uncommon for them, at least early in the year," Molitor said. "Once we get more settled, we'll see how we want to go once we get to a five-man [rotation]."

Rule 5 reliever Tyler Kinley will be used in low-leverage spots early in the season, but Molitor clarified he's not going to be used as the club's long reliever.

"He's not a guy who has pitched long," Molitor said. "I told him it'll be tricky to find the right spots to get him started. Hopefully, it'll give him some momentum. He understands that."

The Twins are expected to stick with a four-man rotation and eight relievers until they need a fifth starter on April 11, barring any weather-related scheduling changes. Right-hander Phil Hughes, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, remains the top candidate to be the club's fifth starter, as he came out of his Minor League outing on Saturday without any issues and will start again on Thursday with Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

Hughes also remains a candidate to be the long reliever once right-hander Ervin Santana returns to the rotation, although Santana isn't expected back until May. But for now, Molitor believes his relievers have a clear view of their roles early this year, with Zach Duke and Reed as the top setup relievers to closer Fernando Rodney.

"I tried to generally present the highest expected situations to be looking to pitch in," Molitor said. "Obviously, you have to leave some room for yourself because we don't have a long man, per se. I think the guys have a good feel for how they'll be used."

Twins tidbits

• The Twins are 20th in the Draft order this season, giving them a bonus pool of $6,745,200. Each pick in the first 10 rounds of the Draft has an assigned value, and the total for each of a club's selections equals what it can spend in those rounds without incurring a penalty. The No. 20 overall selection has a pick value of $3,120,000. The club lost the No. 75 overall pick to the Cardinals when it signed Lance Lynn.

• The Twins have the highest signing bonus pool for signing international free agents, as they have $6,025,400 in pool money, which also matches the Reds, Marlins, Brewers, A's and Rays. The signing period begins on July 2.

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

Minnesota Twins