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Twins to stick to staff plan despite Lynn signing

Minnesota will use four-man rotation until Santana returns from injury
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The addition of right-hander Lance Lynn, who underwent a physical on Sunday after agreeing to terms on a one-year, $12 million deal on Saturday, doesn't change Twins manager Paul Molitor's plan to open the season with a four-man rotation, Molitor said before Sunday's 6-5 win over the Rays.

Molitor chose to speak hypothetically because the signing isn't official yet, but said he has no issues with an all-right-handed rotation and doesn't plan to use a fifth starter early in the season because of off-days. He also added that he's hopeful a potential addition like Lynn will be ready for the start of the season after signing with less than three weeks left before Opening Day.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The addition of right-hander Lance Lynn, who underwent a physical on Sunday after agreeing to terms on a one-year, $12 million deal on Saturday, doesn't change Twins manager Paul Molitor's plan to open the season with a four-man rotation, Molitor said before Sunday's 6-5 win over the Rays.

Molitor chose to speak hypothetically because the signing isn't official yet, but said he has no issues with an all-right-handed rotation and doesn't plan to use a fifth starter early in the season because of off-days. He also added that he's hopeful a potential addition like Lynn will be ready for the start of the season after signing with less than three weeks left before Opening Day.

"Obviously, you have to think about those kinds of things, short window and all that," Molitor said. "If things work out."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

With Molitor looking to open the 2018 season with a four-man rotation, it means Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Lynn, if ready, will be the four starters. However, the Twins aren't ready to name who will get the call for Opening Day against the Orioles on March 29, with Ervin Santana sidelined until late April or early May. Berrios is a top candidate, but Molitor would like to see him pitch in the Twins' game in Berrios' home country of Puerto Rico in mid-April and it will be difficult to get the righty lined up for both starts.

Right-hander Phil Hughes is likely headed for long relief after the addition of Lynn. Hughes will start on Monday against the Yankees in Tampa, and Molitor said he plans to meet with Hughes about how the signing could affect his role. Hughes has two years and $26.4 million remaining on his contract.

"You always try to stay ahead of those kinds of things as best you can when people are affected by other moves that are made," Molitor said.

Video: Hughes taking positives from early spring outing

Right-hander Anibal Sanchez was released before his projected start on Sunday to make room for Lynn. Another domino effect is lefty Adalberto Mejia is likely ticketed for Triple-A Rochester, while Tyler Duffey's best chance to make the club is in long relief, but even that is now a long shot.

The Twins have been active in Spring Training, trading for Odorizzi, signing Logan Morrison and agreeing to terms with Lynn. While some of those moves are pushing players into lesser roles, Molitor said the consensus is the clubhouse is happy the front office is continually making improvements.

"I think we can sense that," Molitor said. "Everyone is, with good reason, excited about what lies ahead. I think this is an attractive place to come to right now, given the direction and the talent level and all those things."

Camp battles
• Non-roster infielder Erick Aybar, who was dealing with a ribcage injury, made his return and went 2-for-2 with a two-run single in Sunday's game. He's competing to make the club as a utility man, but isn't likely to make the Opening Day roster unless Miguel Sano is suspended or a player suffers an injury.

Video: MIN@TB: Aybar lines two-run single to right

• Outfielder Zack Granite, competing with Robbie Grossman to be the club's fourth outfielder, went 1-for-3 and is hitting .148 this spring. First baseman Kennys Vargas, who is expected to be the odd man out for an Opening Day roster role, went 0-for-3.

Catcher Mitch Garver remains the favorite to be the backup catcher, but he has struggled offensively this spring. Garver went 0-for-3 Sunday and is hitting .063.

• Right-hander Fernando Romero, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to open at Triple-A Rochester as a starter, but continues to be a tantalizing option in relief, as he's now thrown eight no-hit innings this spring, including three perfect innings against the Rays Sunday.

"Sometimes you have to know how to control the situation, but at the same time, I've been feeling really excited," Romero said. "All we have to do is keep working."

Injury updates
• Morrison is slated to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Orioles after suffering a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday.

• Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been out since Tuesday with a left calf strain, but is expected to return on Monday or Tuesday, Molitor said.

• Left fielder Eddie Rosario remains sidelined with tendinitis in his right arm and has yet to resume throwing, as his recovery has been a bit slower than expected. He's likely to return at designated hitter to get at-bats before he sees action in the field.

Up next
• The Twins and Hughes head north for a night game against the Yankees on Monday at 5:35 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV. It's the third start of the spring for Hughes, who threw a two-inning live bullpen session on Friday to get ready for the outing. Other pitchers expected to see action include Mejia, Tyler Kinley, Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers.

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

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