Molitor mulling over 4-man rotation in April

Early off-days buy time as Twins attempt to gather starting five

February 14th, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Twins manager Paul Molitor wrapped up his first media session of Spring Training after the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, he was asked when he'd be ready to unveil his Opening Day starter.

It's been an easy question in recent years, with starting the regular-season opener in 2016 and '17, but Santana is out until at least mid-April after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger last week. And with the Twins still looking to add another starting pitcher this spring, Molitor admitted he's far from ready to make that call, especially with only and considered locks for the rotation and uncertainty about who the Twins will bring in from the outside via free agency or trade to join the staff.

"With the people we have now, we're just going to have make some adjustments," Molitor said. "You just have to kind of proceed with who you have. We know that there's a lot of people out there. We know that there's people we're interested in. Just can't predict what way it's going to go."

Molitor did say the Twins are exploring the possibility of opening the season with a four-man rotation thanks to the off-days early in the season. They won't need a fifth starter until April 9 and could get away with using a fifth starter just twice in April. It would allow them to carry eight relievers early in the year while keeping their bench intact.

The Twins are also trying to line up Berrios to pitch in his native Puerto Rico in their series against the Indians on April 17 and 18 in San Juan, which factors into how the rotation shapes up.

"It would be nice to have him get a chance to pitch there," Molitor said. "We'll see how that all comes together."

Twins tidbits

• Closer missed the first day of workouts to attend to a personal matter, but Molitor said he expects Rodney to return to Fort Myers on Wednesday night and participate in workouts on Thursday.

• Several position players showed up to camp early on Wednesday for unofficial workouts, including , Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade, Nick Buss, and .

Hughes throws first spring bullpen session

• With former bench coach Joe Vavra now on Detroit's coaching staff under Ron Gardenhire, new bench coach Derek Shelton is in charge of coordinating Spring Training workouts. Molitor leaned heavily on Vavra in the spring but said Shelton has some experience in that role with the Blue Jays. Molitor said he doesn't expect too many changes from recent years, although the pace looked faster on Wednesday with less standing around.

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"He's doing good," Molitor said. "It wasn't perfect sailing today. We'll try to get people in the right rotations. Nothing major. Got it all worked out and everybody got their stations in. I was trying to find ways to be as efficient as we can and keep it moving."

• Shelton isn't the only new coach, as pitching coach Garvin Alston also had his first official day helping out pitchers during their bullpen sessions. Alston watched a lot of video of Twins pitchers in preparation for Spring Training, but he now has the chance to see them in action. The Twins also hired longtime pitching coach Bob McClure as a senior pitching advisor to assist Alston, while Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven and LaTroy Hawkins are also in camp to help as special instructors.

"I had a lot of people to introduce on Sunday," Molitor said with a laugh. "There's a lot of new coaches out there. New coordinators, catching coordinator, outfield coordinator, bullpen coach in Triple-A, strength coach."