In their final move to set the major league roster, the Twins optioned Matt Tolbert to Triple-A Rochester over the weekend. Tolbert was in a battle with Brendan Harris for the last spot on the bench. While he outperformed Harris this spring, Tolbert had an option left and Harris didn’t so this move should not come as a surprise to anyone. I personally would have liked to see Tolbert make the opening day roster, but completely understand why the Twins did what they did.
Tolbert will turn 27 years old at the start of May and is a major league ready player. In 2008 he made the Twins opening day roster and had a good showing hitting .283/.322/.389 in 113 at bats. He lost about 4 months of his 2008 season due to a torn ligament in his thumb. He is a hard nosed, small ball, defense first player who can hold his own at the plate and is capable of playing 2B, 3B and SS. In a nutshell, Tolbert is a bigger and younger version of Nick Punto. This spring Matt hit .294/.385/.456 in 68 at bats. His spring performance followed up his solid showing in the Venezuelan Winter League where he hit .275/.333/.413 in 80 at bats. Matt Tolbert figures to be the 1st player called up from Triple-A if there is an injury to any of the infielders.
The opening day roster of the 2009 Minnesota Twins: (Age listed is their opening day ages)
Catchers: Mike Redmond (37) and Jose Morales (26)
Infielders: Justin Morneau (27), Alexi Casilla (24), Joe Crede (30), Nick Punto (31), Brian Buscher (27) and Brendan Harris (28)
Outfielders: Michael Cuddyer (30), Denard Span (25), Carlos Gomez (23), Delmon Young (23) and Jason Kubel (26)
Rotation: Francisco Liriano (25), Kevin Slowey (24), Nick Blackburn (27) and Glen Perkins (26)
Bullpen: Luis Ayala (31), Craig Breslow (28), Jesse Crain (27), R.A Dickey (34), Brian Duensing (26), Matt Guerrier (30), Philip Humber (26) and Joe Nathan (34)
15 Day DL: SP-Scott Baker (27) and C-Joe Mauer (25)
Out for Season: RP-Boof Bonser (27) and RP-Pat Neshek (28)
Scott Baker is expected to only miss one start. When Baker comes off the DL he will most likely take the place of either Humber or Dickey.
Reports on Joe Mauer are positive and it looks like he will be back sometime in April. When he comes off the DL he will take the place of Jose Morales on the roster.