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Roster questions getting answers at Twins' camp

March 14, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are more than halfway through Spring Training, and the roster competitions are starting to take shape, especially with the news Saturday that Trevor May was diagnosed with a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to miss the season.May was the favorite for

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are more than halfway through Spring Training, and the roster competitions are starting to take shape, especially with the news Saturday that Trevor May was diagnosed with a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to miss the season.
May was the favorite for the fifth spot in Minnesota's rotation; now it's more of an open race, with Jose Berrios considered the slight favorite. Twins closer Glen Perkins, coming off left labrum surgery, is also not expected to be ready to start the year, which opens a spot in the bullpen.
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Other non-roster players such as ByungHo Park, Chris Gimenez, Ryan Vogelsong and Craig Breslow have had strong showings, although it would require some maneuvering with the currently full 40-man roster for all of them to make the club.
With Opening Day looming on April 3, here is an updated breakdown of Minnesota's projected Opening Day roster.
Catchers:Jason Castro, Gimenez
Castro is a lock to be the Twins' starting catcher, but there remains a competition for the backup catching job between Gimenez, John Ryan Murphy and prospect Mitch Garver. Murphy was the pick before spring and has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster, but Gimenez has had a strong spring and Minnesota likes his ability to work with the pitching staff.

First base:Joe Mauer
Mauer has been eased into Spring Training this season, but nothing has changed with his status at first base, although Twins manager Paul Molitor has said he plans to sit Mauer more against tough lefties.
Second base:James Dozier
Coming off a 42-homer season, Dozier remains the club's most productive player, and he is also considered a leader in the clubhouse. There's still a chance he could be traded during the season, but he'll be at second come Opening Day.
Shortstop:Jorge Polanco
Polanco still must prove he can stick defensively, but Molitor has said that he plans to have Polanco at short to open the year. His bat has never been the question mark, and his spring includes a grand slam on Sunday.
Third base:Miguel Sano
Sano has had some issues with strikeouts this spring, as he's working on new mechanics with his hand position lower and closer to his body. But defensively, he's been solid, which is a good sign.
Designated hitter: Park
Kennys Vargas was listed as the favorite at DH heading into Spring Training, but Park has been Minnesota's best hitter this spring. Not only is he hitting .409 with three homers and two doubles, but he's catching up to higher velocity and has struck out six times compared to four walks. Vargas, who has been seeing limited action for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, could still play his way into a bench role, but he does have a Minor League option left.

Starting outfield:Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler
The Twins are going with their young and athletic outfield of Rosario, Buxton and Kepler, and the club is trying to take advantage of their range and plus arms by playing them shallower during certain situations. All three still have things to prove offensively, though.
Bench:Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Danny Santana
It's hard to predict how the bench will shake out, but Escobar, who is out of options, appears to have a leg up on the backup infielder role over Ehire Adrianza. Grossman is hurt by his troubles defensively and inability to play center, but he is coming off a strong season offensively and is ahead of non-roster outfielders such as Robert Stubbs and J.B. Shuck. Santana's hold on a bench spot is tenuous, but he's having a strong spring offensively and Minnesota is playing him in both the infield and outfield.
Rotation:Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Berrios
The first four spots in the Twins' rotation are essentially locks, but there's a competition for the fifth spot, especially after May was diagnosed with the torn UCL. Berrios, who picked up the win for Team Puerto Rico by allowing three runs in five innings on Sunday, is the slight favorite. Veteran Ryan Vogelsong has a real chance, while Tyler Duffey, Adalberto Mejia and Rule 5 Draft pick Justin Haley are also in the competition.

Bullpen:Brandon Kintzler, Thomas Pressly, Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle, Breslow, Vogelsong, J.T. Chargois
Kintzler, Pressly, Rogers and Belisle are all expected to be on Minnesota's roster, with Kintzler serving as closer if Perkins opens the year on the 15-day disabled list, as expected. Breslow has seen results this spring with his overhauled delivery, while Molitor likes Vogelsong's leadership ability and is giving him a long look. Vogelsong, though, said he pitches better as a starter than a reliever. The last spot is hard to predict, and Haley could make the roster, while there are other candidates such as Michael Tonkin, Ryan O'Rourke, Player Page for Buddy Boshers and potentially Duffey.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.