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Mejia shows grit in pressure situations

Lefty wiggled out of two jams Saturday vs. Orioles as he battles for starting spot
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Should left-hander Adalberto Mejia be successful as a starting pitcher in the regular season, he will have to figure out how to pitch out of pressure-filled situations. On Saturday, he gave a glimpse of how he plans to do so.

After giving up a two-out double to Manny Machado, Mejia kept his cool and forced Adam Jones to fly out and end the first inning.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Should left-hander Adalberto Mejia be successful as a starting pitcher in the regular season, he will have to figure out how to pitch out of pressure-filled situations. On Saturday, he gave a glimpse of how he plans to do so.

After giving up a two-out double to Manny Machado, Mejia kept his cool and forced Adam Jones to fly out and end the first inning.

Twins' Spring Training information

Then in the second, Mejia gave up a walk to Trey Mancini and a single to Mark Trumbo, but he responded by getting Craig Gentry to ground into a double play before inducing a groundout by Joey Rickard.

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"Today, I concentrated on throwing my sinker," Mejia said through an interpreter after Saturday's 1-1 tie against the Orioles. "I threw my sinker a lot, and there was a lot of ground balls today."

In all, Mejia's day lasted two shutout innings, during which he gave up a pair of hits and a walk while throwing 31 total pitches (21 strikes). A noticeably leaner Mejia was happy with the result.

"I feel strong," Mejia said. "It felt good to come out there for the first time this spring. I worked hard this offseason and it paid off today."

After Mejia exited, Fernando Romero threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts. Tom Hackimer, meanwhile, came in a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the fifth inning and fanned Jonathan Schoop. An inning later, Taylor Rogers pitched himself into a similar jam but struck out Rickard to keep Baltimore off the scoreboard.

Video: MIN@DET: Mejia fans Jones to end the bottom 2nd

Twins manager Paul Molitor has hinted that he could utilize a four-man rotation early in the season. With Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi figuring to be the only locks, potential starters include Anibal Sanchez, Aaron Slegers and Phil Hughes in addition to Mejia.

That doesn't begin to address how things will shake out when the team eventually transitions into a traditional five-man unit, though injured right-hander Ervin Santana figures to return in late April or early May.

"I think [Mejia] understands there's a five-man rotation competition that he should feel a part of," Molitor said. "I think we saw things at times that gets your attention in terms of competing against some pretty good lineups."

Mejia was in a similar situation last year, when he beat out Berrios for a rotation spot at the end of camp. Molitor figures that having a year under his belt would help Mejia this spring, as well.

"Being over here and knowing the routine that we go through in the spring, he's got to feel better about it," Molitor said. "We just have to see how the roster plays out and how many position players we carry."

Video: TOR@MIN: Mejia whiffs Morales to start the 2nd

For his part, Mejia said he will bring the same mentality and approach to the table this year as he did last spring, which is to take things one step at a time.

"The biggest thing I learned last year was to focus inning by inning and pitch by pitch," Mejia said. "Just calm down and execute."

In 21 starts for Minnesota in 2017, Mejia went 4-7 and posted a 4.50 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 98 innings.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com

Minnesota Twins, Adalberto Mejia

Molitor likes adding Aybar's versatility to club

Veteran infielder open to playing outfield, where Twins seek additional depth
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though still unclear when he will officially make his Spring Training debut, infielder Erick Aybar told manager Paul Molitor he would be ready to play immediately after signing a Minor League contract on Friday.

"That was probably the right answer," Molitor chuckled before adding that Aybar could play as soon as Monday's game against St. Louis.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though still unclear when he will officially make his Spring Training debut, infielder Erick Aybar told manager Paul Molitor he would be ready to play immediately after signing a Minor League contract on Friday.

"That was probably the right answer," Molitor chuckled before adding that Aybar could play as soon as Monday's game against St. Louis.

Twins' Spring Training information

Molitor added he liked the veteran presence Aybar, who played last season with a young Padres club, could bring to the Twins. Molitor didn't mince words that in order to be successful, Aybar would have to be flexible for Minnesota.

"There was a time when he was a very good everyday player, and I think he understands now he has to have a little more versatility to find a role on a team somewhere, where it might not be what he's done in the past," Molitor said. "He told me today he's willing to play the outfield. … We just want to add to our depth there."

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After spending parts of 10 seasons with the Angels, Aybar split time in 2016 with Atlanta and Detroit. In San Diego last season, he hit just .234/.300/.348 with 23 extra-base hits in 108 games, including 93 starts. Defensively, he played exclusively at shortstop, except for 1 1/3 innings in relief, providing solid play in the field.

Twins tidbits

Jose Berrios is set to make his spring debut on Tuesday against Boston, and he might be joined by newly signed Anibal Sanchez, according to Molitor.

Sanchez, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Minnesota on Feb. 16, will look to revive his career and compete for a roster spot after seeing a steady decline in performance the previous five seasons in Detroit.

Last season, he posted a career-worst 6.41 ERA in 105 1/3 innings over 28 games for the Tigers.

Video: Anibal Sanchez, Twins agree on one-year deal

• After hosting the University of Minnesota for the Twins' Spring Training opener, Molitor liked the idea of possibly making the meeting a regular occurrence.

"It would make sense, I would think, as a way to try and kick off the spring," Molitor said. "I'm not sure what all is involved in trying to make that happen with their schedule."

The game turned out to be a tight one, with the Twins winning, 2-1.

• After seeing limited time in the Majors last season, southpaw Gabriel Moya got his first spring action in 2018, giving up a home run in two-thirds of an inning in the 1-1 tie against the Orioles on Saturday.

Moya gave up the no-doubt long ball to Austin Wynns, then proceeded to surrender a single to Jomar Reyes before forcing Ryan McKenna to pop out. A throwing error to first ended Moya's day.

Molitor stressed that Moya should not lose confidence in his stuff.

"The thing I noticed is that he threw four consecutive offspeed pitches after the guy homered," Molitor said. "Hopefully, you don't lose trust in the fastball."

Up next

Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take the mound against visiting Tampa Bay at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. It will be Minnesota's first home game against a Major League club, as the Twins previously hosted the University of Minnesota. Other pitches scheduled to appear include Addison Reed, Moya, Michael Kohn, Lewis Thorpe, Zack Littell and Myles Jaye.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com.

Minnesota Twins, Erick Aybar

Slegers unfazed by Red Sox's stars in ST debut

Right-hander: Top of Boston's order 'didn't intimidate me like it used to'
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a breakout season at Triple-A Rochester and his first taste of the Majors last year, right-hander Aaron Slegers feels more comfortable facing top competition this season.

Slegers was tested in the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday, facing a lineup that included regulars such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez, but he tossed two hitless innings while striking out two and walking one in the Twins' eventual 4-3 loss.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a breakout season at Triple-A Rochester and his first taste of the Majors last year, right-hander Aaron Slegers feels more comfortable facing top competition this season.

Slegers was tested in the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday, facing a lineup that included regulars such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez, but he tossed two hitless innings while striking out two and walking one in the Twins' eventual 4-3 loss.

View Full Game Coverage

"That top of the order they threw out there didn't intimidate me like it used to," Slegers said. "If I would've faced that a year ago, maybe I would've gone about it a little bit differently. But now I know I can attack knowing I can pitch at the highest level."

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Slegers saw action in Grapefruit League play for the first time last year, posting a 6.75 ERA in 2 2/3 innings over three games. But he had a strong season at Triple-A Rochester, going 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 119 strikeouts and 29 walks in 148 1/3 innings. He also looked good in his Major League debut, allowing two runs on two hits over 6 1/3 innings against the Indians on Aug. 17, but he was used sparingly the rest of the year, finishing with a 6.46 ERA in four appearances.

Tweet from @Twins: Aaron Slegers Spring Training debut: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO #MNTwinsST pic.twitter.com/oOESunyq1Q

Slegers is expected to open the season with Rochester, but he could improve his stock with a solid spring to get back into the Majors for a second time.

"It doesn't feel like another hill, it feels like the same hill," Slegers said. "In Spring Training, you want to prove yourself as much as you can. It's the same feeling as last spring, but I have a little bit more comfort. I still want to prove myself every day."

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Slegers is pleased with his fastball command, but he said he's still working to get a better feel for his slider and changeup. He threw 18 strikes over 29 pitches, including first-pitch fastballs to five of the seven batters he faced. He had a 12-pitch battle with Bogaerts in the first that ended in a strikeout.

"He just kept pulling the ball foul," Slegers said. "I got him down 0-2 but fell behind and evened the count at 2-2 with a few of the off-speed stuff that I'm working on. That's always a secondary priority to commanding the fastball, and I got him on a two-seamer in."

Manager Paul Molitor noticed that Slegers was working on his fastball and liked what he saw from the 6-foot-10 right-hander.

"My impression was he was really trusting his fastball command," Molitor said. "He had that long at-bat with Bogaerts but just kept throwing that fastball until he found better spots."

Twins tidbits

The Twins and Red Sox both wore caps from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show support for the Florida community that saw 17 people, including 14 students and three staff members, killed in a mass shooting on Feb. 14. The caps will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.

"That was extremely special," Slegers said. "I got chills during the moment of silence. Just all the people in the ballpark and realizing there's a lot of things going on that are bigger than baseball. Just to do one small token of support was pretty cool."

Tweet from @Twins: Today we honor the Parkland Community by joining teams across MLB to wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School caps during today���s game.Caps will be signed and auctioned off to benefit funds related to assisting the victims and families. pic.twitter.com/WNP6T4CkRf

• The Twins scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk from non-roster invitee Ryan LaMarre in the seventh. LaMarre later smacked a two-run single in the ninth. Jorge Polanco recorded the first hit of the spring for the Twins with a one-out single in the first.

• Shortstop prospect Nick Gordon, who had two hard-hit balls in Thursday's exhibition game, connected on a double in the ninth and was also hit by a pitch.

"He's got a little juice in his bat," Molitor said.

• Left-hander Dietrich Enns struggled, allowing three runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings, and he couldn't finish the fourth inning. Right-hander John Curtiss also had a rough eighth inning, giving up an RBI double. But Molitor was impressed by what he saw from Rule 5 right-hander Tyler Kinley, who struck out two in a scoreless inning, and right-hander Felix Jorge, who has slowed down his delivery.

Up next

• Left-hander Adalberto Mejia, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, will take the mound against the Orioles on Saturday at 5:05 p.m. CT on Gameday Audio. Mejia surprisingly won a job last spring and is competing with veterans such as Phil Hughes and Anibal Sanchez. Other pitchers scheduled to see action include Fernando Romero, Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly and Jake Reed.

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

Minnesota Twins, Aaron Slegers

Twins add Aybar on Minors deal

Veteran expected to compete for backup infielder role
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

The Twins have signed veteran infielder Erick Aybar to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Aybar, 34, spent the 2017 season with the Padres, for whom he slashed .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 steals in 108 games. He spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Angels and was an All-Star in 2014. He also won a Gold Glove Award at shortstop in '11. He split the '16 season between the Braves and Tigers.

The Twins have signed veteran infielder Erick Aybar to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Aybar, 34, spent the 2017 season with the Padres, for whom he slashed .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 steals in 108 games. He spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Angels and was an All-Star in 2014. He also won a Gold Glove Award at shortstop in '11. He split the '16 season between the Braves and Tigers.

Spring info | Tickets | Schedule

Aybar will compete for a spot as a backup infielder on the Major League roster. Minnesota currently has Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza as backup infielders.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Minnesota Twins

May still on track despite move to 60-day DL

Right-hander: No setbacks in return from Tommy John surgery
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Although Twins right-hander Trevor May was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from last March's Tommy John surgery, it doesn't alter his projected return, and he hasn't suffered any setbacks since the operation.

May was targeting a return in late May, and he's now eligible to be activated on May 28, which is only a few days after his original scheduled return date.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Although Twins right-hander Trevor May was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from last March's Tommy John surgery, it doesn't alter his projected return, and he hasn't suffered any setbacks since the operation.

May was targeting a return in late May, and he's now eligible to be activated on May 28, which is only a few days after his original scheduled return date.

"It didn't change anything," May said. "We had a discussion because I wanted to make sure. People assume I had a setback, but there was no setback. The projected time was like three or four days before the 60-day anyways. We're just being a little conservative. It'll come out to about 14 months."

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May, 28, has been throwing three bullpens a week, throwing only fastballs, but he will progress to throwing his changeup next week. He's already been throwing off a mound for five weeks, and he has three more weeks of bullpen sessions before he'll face hitters for the first time since tearing his ulnar collateral ligament on a pitch to Team USA's Andrew McCutchen in an exhibition game on March 8, 2017.

May has already been throwing his changeup off flat ground and has started to work in his breaking pitches from close range, but he is still about two weeks away from throwing them in bullpen sessions.

"I've been throwing changeups the last month and a half," May said. "Changeups haven't been a problem. A couple times from 30 feet I've tried to see what spinning feels like. I think the slider will come back a little bit faster [than the curve]. But fortunately, my changeup has been my best feel pitch anyways location-wise. So with fastball-changeup right away, I have some time to get my breaking ball back."

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May has been encouraged by his bullpens, especially his fastball command, as regaining that control is usually the toughest part in the first year back from surgery. He's also pleased that the back issues that plagued him in 2016 have subsided with changes to his delivery.

"I've continued a lot of the mechanical stuff I worked on last year like slide-stepping and a shorter stride with the back," May said. "I've had no flareups with the back, at all. It's been cleared up. I have a Pilates routine that's helped."

May said there's been soreness on the outside of the elbow, but after talking with pitchers like Kyle Gibson, Zach Duke and J.T. Chargois, who have had the operation, they explained it's a normal part of the process.

"I took it up a notch on Monday and felt some real good soreness but was able to do my drills the next day, so that was good," May said. "After about 18 months is when things get fully back to normal, if not even stronger. That first season you have to work through some stuff."

Tweet from @morsecode: #MNTwins camp is open! Pitchers and catchers are back 👍 pic.twitter.com/wnIVWgi9FZ

May, who has experience as both a starter and a reliever, said he likely would've been ready to return by Opening Day if he was going to pitch out of the bullpen. But getting stretched out to start adds roughly two months to the rehab process.

May knows a rotation spot must be open for him to return once he's healthy and eligible, but he would love to join the Twins for their series in his native Seattle from May 25-27 before returning to action.

"The Seattle series is a pretty apt target date for me," May said. "It'd be great to join the team in Seattle and go home for a few days. It'd be a really nice thing, but of course, a spot has to be open and your role has to be determined at that point. It would be a nice way to end this whole thing. I want to contribute on the field. I'm tired of this stuff. I still have a few months left, but we're getting there."

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

Minnesota Twins, Trevor May

Chargois outrighted, claimed by Dodgers

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins placed right-handed reliever J.T. Chargois on outright waivers and he was claimed by the Dodgers on Friday, Minnesota announced.

The transaction opens a 40-man roster spot for the Twins, who continue to monitor the free-agent market, although a move isn't expected on Friday. They've been linked to right-hander Lance Lynn in recent days, although adding another starting pitcher remains unlikely unless the price comes down. But they could look to add a right-handed bat and veteran Mike Napoli remains available.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins placed right-handed reliever J.T. Chargois on outright waivers and he was claimed by the Dodgers on Friday, Minnesota announced.

The transaction opens a 40-man roster spot for the Twins, who continue to monitor the free-agent market, although a move isn't expected on Friday. They've been linked to right-hander Lance Lynn in recent days, although adding another starting pitcher remains unlikely unless the price comes down. But they could look to add a right-handed bat and veteran Mike Napoli remains available.

Chargois, 27, was ranked as the club's No. 24 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, but he has been injury prone, making just two appearances last season because of elbow issues. He also missed all of the 2013 and '14 seasons with elbow issues that resulted in Tommy John surgery.

But Chargois has impressive stuff with a fastball that can reach 100 mph to go along with a slider that can generate swings and misses. He reached the Majors in '16, posting a 4.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts, 12 walks and no homers allowed in 23 innings.

"He's a talented kid," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But not a lot of innings over the last five years for a lot of reasons. We feel like he can help a team, but we needed to do something with the roster. And the Dodgers got him [late in the waivers process], so we almost got him through there."

Chargois, a second-round Draft pick in 2012 out of Rice University, has a career 1.91 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 113 1/3 innings in the Minors.

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

Minnesota Twins, J.T. Chargois

Dozier pelted by seeds in mid-game interview

Although second baseman Brian Dozier was off for the Twins' 2-1 win over the University of Minnesota in the exhibition opener, his teammates made sure that he wasn't relaxing too much. The broadcast crew did an in-game interview with him on the bench, and the Twins tested his concentration by throwing countless sunflower seeds at him.

Dark-horse candidates vying for Twins' roster

Wilson, Granite, Mejia, Kinley, Reed, Kohn out to make impression
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins set to play their first game of the spring on Thursday night against the University of Minnesota at Hammond Stadium before opening up Grapefruit League play against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon, the competition for roster spots is officially on.

Left-hander Stephen Gonsalves will start the exhibition game on Thursday, and right-hander Aaron Slegers will take the mound against Boston on Friday. But with the Twins acquiring Jake Odorizzi via a trade with the Rays and signing Anibal Sanchez to a one-year deal, neither prospect is expected to make the team, manager Paul Molitor said.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Twins set to play their first game of the spring on Thursday night against the University of Minnesota at Hammond Stadium before opening up Grapefruit League play against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon, the competition for roster spots is officially on.

Left-hander Stephen Gonsalves will start the exhibition game on Thursday, and right-hander Aaron Slegers will take the mound against Boston on Friday. But with the Twins acquiring Jake Odorizzi via a trade with the Rays and signing Anibal Sanchez to a one-year deal, neither prospect is expected to make the team, manager Paul Molitor said.

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Instead the competitions will be for the final spot in the rotation, with such candidates as Phil Hughes, Adalberto Mejia and Sanchez; the back end of the bullpen, with likely two spots open; the backup catcher role; and potentially a bench spot.

"There are guys [that] we feel have chances to surprise a little bit," Molitor said. "Maybe some names people aren't expecting. We'll be open-minded about how that goes."

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With that in mind, here's a look at a few dark horses who could make the Twins' Opening Day roster.

Catcher Bobby Wilson

Mitch Garver has the upper hand because he's on the 40-man roster and the Twins would like to see the 27-year-old win the job and prove he can be a quality backup after impressing in the Minors. But Garver's competition this spring will be Wilson, who is considered a strong defensive catcher and a leader. Wilson, who turns 35 on April 8, has played parts of eight seasons in the Majors but spent last year with Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Dodgers organization.

Outfielder Zack Granite

The Twins are expected to open with a four-man bench, with Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman and Ehire Adrianza considered locks to make the club. Kennys Vargas is out of options and will have to earn his way onto the roster as a backup first baseman and designated hitter. But the Twins could go a different direction and go with Granite, who provides speed, defense and strong contact skills. Granite has upside and can play all three outfield positions. He's likely the 26th player on the roster, and his roster chances depend on how Vargas fares this spring, as it's his job to lose.

Video: Granite discusses competitive edge he brings to Twins

Left-hander Adalberto Mejia

Mejia surprisingly won a job out of Spring Training last year over Jose Berrios, and could do it again this year, but he would likely need Minnesota to open with a five-man rotation. Molitor has stated that he's leaning toward a four-man rotation to take advantage of early off-days, which would leave only one spot up for grabs. Mejia would compete against Hughes and Sanchez, as Hughes needs to show that he's healthy after rib surgery, while only $500,000 of Sanchez's $2.5 million deal is guaranteed.

Right-hander Tyler Kinley

The Twins will get a long look at Kinley -- a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Marlins -- this spring and give him a chance to make the bullpen. He has impressive stuff and threw 18 consecutive scoreless innings in the Dominican Winter League. Minnesota has bullpen depth after signing Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke and Addison Reed, but if Kinley impresses this spring, he could make the club. If he's not on the active roster, he would need to either be acquired in a trade with Miami or sent back.

Right-hander Jake Reed

Reed was left off the 40-man roster and wasn't selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but he is in camp and has strong Minor League numbers. He's allowed only six homers in 199 innings in the Minors, with 190 strikeouts and 66 walks, but he's dealt with injuries, including a shoulder strain last year that limited him to 38 innings.

Right-hander Michael Kohn

Kohn has a career 3.52 ERA in parts of five big league seasons, but he hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2015 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He tried out for the Twins last year based on a recommendation from his former Angels teammate Torii Hunter and posted a 1.38 ERA in 13 outings. If he's healthy, he could make a surprise bid to make the bullpen as a non-roster invitee.

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

Minnesota Twins

Twins getting early look at young pitchers

Team's No. 3 prospect Gonsalves delivers two scoreless innings in walk-off win over University of Minnesota
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Gonsalves, the No. 78 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp against the Gophers, throwing two scoreless innings with a strikeout in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win. The lone hit he allowed was a leadoff infield single and he later had the runner picked off, only for the Twins to fail to execute the rundown.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Gonsalves, the No. 78 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp against the Gophers, throwing two scoreless innings with a strikeout in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win. The lone hit he allowed was a leadoff infield single and he later had the runner picked off, only for the Twins to fail to execute the rundown.

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"I felt great," Gonsalves said. "It felt good to get out there. But it's a process and I'll keep going and keep working. I just want to use my fastball to get ahead. I struggled with it a little bit in the first inning today but I was a little anxious and rushing to the plate. But I talked with [pitching coach] Garvin [Alston] about how to fix it and I threw only eight pitches in the second inning."

Video: UM@MIN: Gonsalves fans Vavra in the 2nd

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Thursday's roster didn't feature any regulars for the Twins, but Slegers will have several familiar faces such as center fielder Byron Buxton, shortstop Jorge Polanco, right fielder Max Kepler and left fielder Eddie Rosario playing behind him on Friday.

"We're going to start getting some guys in there starting tomorrow," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But up until that first week, it'll be a little hit or miss putting [lineups] together. I'm glad they don't have the rule requiring regulars until March 1."

Slegers, 25, got a taste of the Majors last year, posting a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, including an impressive start against the Indians in his debut, allowing two runs on two hits over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 17.

Video: CLE@MIN: Slegers tosses 6 1/3 strong frames in debut

Slegers, a 6-foot-10, 245-pounder, has put impressive numbers in the Minors with a career 3.50 ERA in 106 appearances (97 starts). He went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 119 strikeouts and 29 walks in 148 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester last season.

Like Gonsalves, Slegers is expected to open the season at Triple-A, as the Twins have added depth to their rotation this spring, trading for Jake Odorizzi and signing Anibal Sanchez. But Slegers can help his cause with a solid spring against Major League competition.

Dark-horse candidates vying for Twins' roster

Other pitchers expected to throw on Friday include left-handers Dietrich Enns and Gabriel Moya and right-handers Felix Jorge, Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss and Tyler Kinley. Moya, Busenitz, Curtiss and Kinley, a Rule 5 Draft pick, are competing for spots in the bullpen, while Enns and Jorge are starters.

The lineup won't have starters such as first baseman Joe Mauer, second baseman Brian Dozier and third baseman Miguel Sano, as they'll be eased into Spring Training games. Dozier returned Wednesday after missing three days with a kidney stone, while Sano continues to work on his conditioning after undergoing offseason surgery to place a titanium rod in his left shin.

WORTH NOTING
• Emma Charlesworth-Seiler served as first-base umpire on Thursday and is one of two women umpires in Minor League Baseball. The other, Jen Pawol, was the home-plate umpire for Friday's Tigers game against Florida Southern College.

• First baseman Brock Stassi, who is expected to add depth at Triple-A Rochester, drove in the game's first run with an RBI single with two outs in the first. Catcher Brian Navarreto went 2-for-2, including a single in the ninth to help set up the walk-off wild pitch with the bases loaded. LaMonte Wade scored the winning run after drawing a leadoff walk.

Video: UM@MIN: Wade scores on walk-off wild pitch

• Gophers leadoff hitter Luke Pettersen, the younger brother of former Twins Minor Leaguer A.J. Pettersen, went 2-for-5.

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

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves, Aaron Slegers

Resurgent Mauer sees himself as lifelong Twin

Entering final season of contract, former MVP wants to keep playing
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For former American League MVP Award winner and six-time All-Star Joe Mauer, playing for his hometown Twins is all he has ever known.

This marks his 17th big league camp with Minnesota, but he heads into this season with uncertainty, as he's in the final year of his eight-year, $184 million contract. Mauer, 34, made it clear he can't see himself playing for any other club, and he believes he still has plenty left after putting up his best numbers in 2017 since sustaining his career-altering concussion in '13.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For former American League MVP Award winner and six-time All-Star Joe Mauer, playing for his hometown Twins is all he has ever known.

This marks his 17th big league camp with Minnesota, but he heads into this season with uncertainty, as he's in the final year of his eight-year, $184 million contract. Mauer, 34, made it clear he can't see himself playing for any other club, and he believes he still has plenty left after putting up his best numbers in 2017 since sustaining his career-altering concussion in '13.

"I don't get too far ahead of myself," said Mauer, who insists it's not something he's thinking about. "I just try to concentrate on the year and what I can do to help us get to where we want to get to. I'm just kind of wanting to get out there and play some baseball and enjoy this season."

Twins manager Paul Molitor, however, said he wouldn't blame Mauer if his contract status pops into his head here and there, as Molitor went through a similar situation as a longtime Brewer who thought he'd never play for any other team, only to finish his career with the Blue Jays and Twins. Molitor, though, doesn't think Mauer will go through the same scenario.

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"I think Joe is going to be a lifelong Twin," Molitor said. "That's my gut reaction."

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who is also in the last year of his contract, voiced a similar opinion to Molitor, as neither could picture Mauer in any other uniform.

"He'll always be a Twin," Dozier said. "I don't know how much longer he wants to play, but you saw what he did last year and he was pretty dang good."

Mauer experienced a revival last season, hitting .305/.384/.417 in 141 games while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base. How he fares this year could determine what direction the Twins go at first base moving forward, as they don't have any first-base prospects close to the big leagues, though Miguel Sano could move there from third base. Mauer understands that his future with the organization isn't fully in his control, but that he wants to keep playing beyond this season.

"As long as I'm contributing and having fun and physically able to do that, I want to go as long as I can," Mauer said. "Sometimes, that decision is made for you, but if it's up to me, I'd like to play as long as I can because I enjoy to go out and compete."

Tweet from @RhettBollinger: A slow-motion look at Joe Mauer���s swing pic.twitter.com/ktzvVmqAHe

Mauer, a St. Paul, Minn., native selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 Draft, also understands how much the $184 million deal has clouded some fans' opinions about him, but he said the length of the contract was the most important thing to him, as he never wanted to leave Minnesota and made sure it had a full no-trade clause as well.

"I like where I'm at," Mauer said. "Over the years, that was kind of the goal. I was lucky enough to be drafted by the team I grew up rooting for and cheering on. To be able to play here and win here, that's what I have always wanted to do."

Mauer, though, knows there are some fans who viewed his contract, which at the time was the fourth largest in Major League history and the largest given to a catcher, as holding the team back. Mauer's career took an unexpected turn with the concussion in 2013 that forced him to move to first base and limited his production over the next three seasons.

Video: Molitor, Mauer compare feel of 2018 camp to 2017

While getting paid $161 million over the last seven years, Mauer's production has been worth $116.8 million, per Fangraphs.com. Mauer's production over his first seven seasons was worth $182 million, per those calculations, while he was paid $34 million.

"I've always said you can't control what people think about you," Mauer said. "Every day I go out there, I give it my best, and at the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy about how I go about every day."

As for any talk about retirement, Mauer said it's premature, but he'll weigh plenty of factors once he gets to that point, including his family life with his wife, Maddie, and twin daughters, Emily and Maren, who will turn 5 in July.

"Obviously, family is one of them, health is one of them and contributing," Mauer said. "But as long as I'm feeling good and contributing, I want to play as long as I can."

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

Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer

Twins Top 30 features 4 Top 100 prospects

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

To say the Twins were ahead of schedule in 2017 would be a vast understatement. The Twins became just the second team since the Draft was instituted in 1965 to make the playoffs in the same season they had the No. 1 overall pick.

Twins Top 30 Prospects list

To say the Twins were ahead of schedule in 2017 would be a vast understatement. The Twins became just the second team since the Draft was instituted in 1965 to make the playoffs in the same season they had the No. 1 overall pick.

Twins Top 30 Prospects list

They did it with a young core of talent that should be there for a long time, led by former top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, along with players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. And there's even more good news down on the farm.

:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::

The Twins currently don't have a top 10 farm system and have four members on the Top 100. But it's easy to see any of the next five or six players on the new Top 30 working their way onto that list over the course of 2018, and this being one of the best systems in baseball by the end of the season. There's as much upside among the non-Top 100 set in this system as perhaps in any other in baseball.

Some of it came from international efforts, with Wander Javier and Brusdar Graterol poised to jump on the national prospect radar. Some came from the Draft, with 2016 first-rounder Alex Kirilloff and 2017 draftees Brent Rooker and Blayne Enlow ready to breakout. And that doesn't even include that No. 1 pick, Royce Lewis, who is already firmly on the Top 100 and jumped on a fast track by handling a push to the Midwest League during his summer debut.

There's also solid talent up and down the organization. Five members of the 2017 Draft class landed on the Top 30 and are just starting out, though Rooker should move faster than most. On the flip side, three of the top four, all Top 100 prospects -- Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and Nick Gordon -- should make some kind of impact at Target Field this year.

All of this adds up to one simple conclusion: What the Twins accomplished in 2017 not only wasn't a mirage, but it's a success that very well could be long-lasting because of what is a very strong and deep farm system.

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.

Jump: Brusdar Graterol, RHP (2017: NR | 2018: 7)
Fall: J.T. Chargois, RHP (2017: 11 | 2018: 24) | Ben Rortvedt, C (2017: 12 | 2018: 25)

Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 60 -- Royce Lewis
Power: 60 -- Brent Rooker
Run: 70 -- Royce Lewis
Arm: 60 -- Andrew Bechtold (Wander Javier)
Defense: 55 -- Ben Rortvedt (Nick Gordon, Andrew Bechtold, Zack Granite)
Fastball: 80 -- J.T. Chargois
Curveball: 60 -- Blayne Enlow
Slider: 60 -- J.T. Chargois
Changeup: 60 -- Stephen Gonsalves
Control: 55 -- Felix Jorge (Gonsalves, Enlow, Zack Littell)

How they were built
Draft: 19
International: 8
Trade: 3

Breakdown by ETA
2018: 12
2019: 3
2020: 6
2021: 8
2022: 1

Breakdown by position
C: 2
1B: 1
2B: 3
3B: 2
SS: 3
OF: 6
RHP: 9
LHP: 4

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Minnesota Twins

Dozier arrives at camp, to be eased into games

Second baseman had kidney stone removed on Tuesday
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After missing the first three days of workouts because of a kidney stone, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier arrived on Wednesday and joked he felt lighter and ready to go.

Dozier described the experience as the most painful thing he'd ever gone through and had to have the 5-millimeter stone removed on Tuesday night. Dozier didn't participate in a full workout on Thursday as a result, but he was relieved to have the ordeal over with.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After missing the first three days of workouts because of a kidney stone, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier arrived on Wednesday and joked he felt lighter and ready to go.

Dozier described the experience as the most painful thing he'd ever gone through and had to have the 5-millimeter stone removed on Tuesday night. Dozier didn't participate in a full workout on Thursday as a result, but he was relieved to have the ordeal over with.

"For anyone who ever had a kidney stone, I feel for you, because it was the worst pain you'll ever have in your life," Dozier said. "It was in there for like five or six days, but it's out, and I'm happy right now. Everything is good."

Dozier is expected to resume full workouts on Thursday and is likely to be eased into games, as he's not expected to play in the Grapefruit League opener on Friday against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park or Saturday against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla.

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"He didn't do a ton today, but you can tell he feels a lot better," Twins manager Paul Molitor. "We'll ease him into the mix here. I wasn't planning on playing him too soon anyways. So we'll give him a few days and see where he's at."

Dozier also comes to camp as an impending free agent with his contract set to expire after the season. He has been vocal about his desire to remain in Minnesota and sign an extension, but he said there's nothing new on that front.

"I don't know, man," Dozier said. "I don't really know what to tell you. We'll see."

Dozier, though, was relaxed enough to joke about that status, saying he missed the early part of camp for contract reasons and not because of the kidney stone.

"That's what this was -- a holdout," Dozier said with a laugh. "But it's all good. We'll see how it shakes out."

Tweet from @Twins: #TFW you get new leather on @wilsonballglove #GloveDay! pic.twitter.com/c8s5dh1Gtr

Twins Tidbits

??? The Twins don't plan to play any regulars in Thursday's exhibition game (5:05 p.m. CT) against the University of Minnesota. The lineup behind left-hander Stephen Gonsalves will be composed of center fielder Zack Granite, second baseman Gregorio Petit, shortstop Nick Gordon, designated hitter Chris Heisey, first baseman Brock Stassi, left fielder Nick Buss, right fielder Ryan LaMarre, catcher Jordan Pacheco and third baseman Taylor Featherston.

??? Former Twins first baseman and AL MVP Award winner Justin Morneau arrived at camp on Wednesday to serve as an instructor. Morneau rejoined the organization this offseason as a special assistant to the front office.

"I'm excited to have my old buddy in camp," Twins first baseman Joe Mauer said. "He's happy to be here, all smiles. It's just another guy in here who has a lot of experience. Been there, done that, and does it the right way. Same thing with [Michael] Cuddyer and Torii [Hunter] and LaTroy [Hawkins]. It's fun to have those guys around."

Tweet from @Twins: Q1: What advice do you have for rookie coach, Justin Morneau? Q2: What is it like to be Eddie Guardado?????????s boss? pic.twitter.com/XHyhVJY7b0

??? The Twins held their annual media day on Wednesday, with players having their photos taken for the upcoming season and participating in several video interviews on the field at Hammond Stadium.

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

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier