Pitchers and catchers have reported. Full squad workouts have begun. Speculation is running wild after every virtually meaningless offhand comment. It’s a glorious time for baseball fans, even if it is far, far too early to predict the Opening Day starting lineup and starter. Which is exactly why most of us love to see those predictions!
So, without further ado, if Opening Day 2013 was today, I would expect the starting lineup for the Minnesota Twins to be:
- Darin Mastroianni (CF)
- Brian Dozier (2B)
- Joe Mauer (C)
- Josh Willingham (LF)
- Justin Morneau (1B)
- Trevor Plouffe (3B)
- Ryan Doumit (DH)
- Chris Parmelee (RF)
- Pedro Florimon (SS)
- Starting Pitcher: Vance Worley
There are many, many questions in that lineup, and I expect my opinion to change over the upcoming weeks. I may just post an update as the pre-season chugs along. Today, I struggled the most with the middle infield. Eduardo Escobar and Jamey Carroll are two more names to be added to the mix of Dozier and Florimon, and none of the four I’ve mentioned currently instill hope and excitement in the average fan…or seem to lock down a starting spot.
Centerfield is another position that is up for grabs. I really got to like Mastroianni last season, so I lean toward him because he’s a known quantity. (It’s also possible that it has something to do with his Italian last name and my Italian heritage. We won’t quibble about this.) However, I list him (at the moment) as the Opening Day centerfielder, not necessarily the long-term centerfielder for the Twins. There seems to be consensus that Mastroianni will struggle as an everyday player, so Aaron Hicks or Joe Benson will likely take over the job. For what it’s worth, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com concurs with my current assessment of the centerfield starter.
Finally, there is the sticky business of the Opening Day starter. The Twins don’t have a clear ace on staff, much to the chagrin of fans and management alike. Shortly before Spring Training began, LaVelle E. Neal III of startribune.com tweeted that Scott Diamond, the Twins lone bright spot on a list of dismal 2012 starters, may not be ready to pitch when the 2013 regular season begins:
Scott Diamond has begun his throwing program but its really iffy if he will be ready for Opening Day #whowillgettheball
— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) February 8, 2013
Diamond said on the 2/18/13 Hot Stove show on AM 1500 ESPN that the timeline for his recovery would be closely linked to how he feels when pitching off the mound for the first time. He’ll do that today (2/19/13). Until that happens, and until the real result is known, it’s really anybody’s guess as to when Diamond is available. Call me pessimistic, but I chose to go with the scenario that Diamond won’t be ready. I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up in any area of the Twins’ game for the 2013 season, as I expect I would just face disappointment again. (I have higher expectations for 2014.)
That being said, if Diamond would be available for Opening Day 2013, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have Worley as the starter anyway. I was able to see Diamond in his first appearance for the Twins, and I’ve been on his side since then, even before it was en vogue. Solid pitcher he may be. Calling him an “Ace” is probably (very likely) a stretch.
If you had to write the 2013 Opening Day starting rotation today, what would your lineup card look like? Share your lineup card and your reasoning in the comments below.