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Twins reassign Park, name Mejia fifth starter

MLB.com

The Twins took another step toward rounding out their roster with a series of moves Thursday that included reassigning ByungHo Park to Minor League camp.

The club also named Adalberto Mejia its fifth starter.

In addition to these moves, the Twins optioned catcher John Ryan Murphy to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned J.B. Shuck, Eddy Rodriguez, Benji Gonzalez, Matt Hague and Ben Paulsen to Minor League camp. 

Despite a disappointing first year in Minnesota that saw him hit .191 and get designated for assignment in February, Park appeared poised to win the Twins' DH job after a sensational spring where he was one of the best hitters in baseball. Park slashed .353/.414/.745 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 19 games this spring. He hit .191/.275/.409 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 62 games as a rookie in 2016 after signing a four-year, $12 million deal.

"We asked Park at the beginning of the spring to compete and show us that his second time was going to be bettered. It was by leaps and bounds," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've talked a lot about his consistency and calmness in the box, and he showed us all of that."

The decision was driven more by the desire to have an extra arm in the bullpen to start the season than it was about naming a winner in the competition between Park and Kennys Vargas.

"It wasn't so much about Kennys," Molitor said. "He was gone for a while for the [World Baseball Classic] and then the foot injury so he hasn't played much. We decided that carrying eight [relief] pitchers would help the maneuverability on the roster when it comes to maybe adding guys that aren't on the 40-man roster.

Without Park, most of Minnesota's DH at-bats will likely go to Robbie Grossman to start the season.

"Being a DH is something I've never really done before so it'll be interesting. I'm excited to do whatever I need to for the team," Grossman said. "I've just got to be myself. I know what kind of player I am, and as long as I keep doing me and keep going with what I'm doing."

Mejia beat out Tyler Duffey for the Twins' fifth starter spot by pitching to a 1.88 ERA in six appearances (one start) this spring. Duffey, who followed a promising rookie campaign with struggles in 2016, will begin the season as part of Minnesota's eight-man bullpen. The team is expected to carry 13 pitchers.

"Duffey has had stints where his two pitches played, and he was able to get outs by reshaping that breaking ball a couple different ways to make him more than a two-pitch pitcher," Molitor said. "He is still trying to incorporate that changeup. I've also seen him in short stints where he can reach back and have a little more on the fastball. This is just how we are going to kick it off, and I'd be surprised if you didn't see Duffey start a game for us at some point."

Additionally, the Twins placed infielder Ehire Adrianza and left-handed pitcher Ryan O'Rourke on the 10-day disabled list. Minnesota now has 27 players in camp.

The Twins took another step toward rounding out their roster with a series of moves Thursday that included reassigning ByungHo Park to Minor League camp.

The club also named Adalberto Mejia its fifth starter.

In addition to these moves, the Twins optioned catcher John Ryan Murphy to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned J.B. Shuck, Eddy Rodriguez, Benji Gonzalez, Matt Hague and Ben Paulsen to Minor League camp. 

Despite a disappointing first year in Minnesota that saw him hit .191 and get designated for assignment in February, Park appeared poised to win the Twins' DH job after a sensational spring where he was one of the best hitters in baseball. Park slashed .353/.414/.745 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 19 games this spring. He hit .191/.275/.409 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 62 games as a rookie in 2016 after signing a four-year, $12 million deal.

"We asked Park at the beginning of the spring to compete and show us that his second time was going to be bettered. It was by leaps and bounds," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've talked a lot about his consistency and calmness in the box, and he showed us all of that."

The decision was driven more by the desire to have an extra arm in the bullpen to start the season than it was about naming a winner in the competition between Park and Kennys Vargas.

"It wasn't so much about Kennys," Molitor said. "He was gone for a while for the [World Baseball Classic] and then the foot injury so he hasn't played much. We decided that carrying eight [relief] pitchers would help the maneuverability on the roster when it comes to maybe adding guys that aren't on the 40-man roster.

Without Park, most of Minnesota's DH at-bats will likely go to Robbie Grossman to start the season.

"Being a DH is something I've never really done before so it'll be interesting. I'm excited to do whatever I need to for the team," Grossman said. "I've just got to be myself. I know what kind of player I am, and as long as I keep doing me and keep going with what I'm doing."

Mejia beat out Tyler Duffey for the Twins' fifth starter spot by pitching to a 1.88 ERA in six appearances (one start) this spring. Duffey, who followed a promising rookie campaign with struggles in 2016, will begin the season as part of Minnesota's eight-man bullpen. The team is expected to carry 13 pitchers.

"Duffey has had stints where his two pitches played, and he was able to get outs by reshaping that breaking ball a couple different ways to make him more than a two-pitch pitcher," Molitor said. "He is still trying to incorporate that changeup. I've also seen him in short stints where he can reach back and have a little more on the fastball. This is just how we are going to kick it off, and I'd be surprised if you didn't see Duffey start a game for us at some point."

Additionally, the Twins placed infielder Ehire Adrianza and left-handed pitcher Ryan O'Rourke on the 10-day disabled list. Minnesota now has 27 players in camp.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Twins on Thursday.

Minnesota Twins, Adalberto Mejia, ByungHo Park