The Minnesota Twins are now almost through with Spring Training, with just two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates before heading to Milwaukee. This third week was by far the most eventful of Spring Training.
More players were optioned, the roster became more settled, new questions arose, and the Twins now stare down the toughest roster decisions. Before we get to all that, the most important news of the week has left the organization reeling, so we’ll start there.
The Passing of Minnesota Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell
Mike Bell, who was the Twins’ bench coach, passed away on Friday after a months-long battle with cancer. Bell had taken a leave of absence from the team after having a growth removed in January, and while manager Rocco Baldelli was optimistic about his recovery at the start of Spring Training, Bell stayed away from the team throughout that time.
Bell’s brother David is the current Reds’ manager, and his father Buddy managed the Tigers, Royals, and Rockies, so the family’s significance is felt across the league. Teams across the league sent out condolences, and the Twins played the game on Friday in his honor.
While Mike was only a member of the organization for the one year after taking over for current Pirates manager Derek Shelton in 2020, he left a very positive impact on the team, and he will be sorely missed by the team.
The Minnesota Twins New Roster Picture Gets a Little Clearer
Hitter Locks we Know So Far
- Infield: Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Andrelton Simmons, Josh Donaldson
- Outfielders: Byron Buxton, Max Kepler
- Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz
I expect the Twins to go with thirteen hitters and thirteen pitchers, and ten spots accounted for, this leaves three remaining. I think Brent Rooker deserves the starting spot in left field, and with his ability to play first, he’ll make the cut after an excellent Spring.
You may be surprised that Jake Cave isn’t a lock, but Cave wasn’t good last year and has been bad this Spring, while Kyle Garlick has been really, really good. Cave still probably takes it. For the last spot, Willians Astudillo’s really good spring and his to play a lot of positions on defense (even if it’s bad defense) will get him in the door.
Pitching Locks we Know So Far
- Five Man Rotation: Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker
- Bullpen Locks: Taylor Rogers, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Randy Dobnak, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Tyler Duffey
Despite Caleb Thielbar and Hansel Robles both having absolutely terrible Spring performances, both should be considered locks to make the roster, and with all the other spots accounted for, this leaves one spot with two pitchers competing for one spot: Cody Stashak and Derek Law.
Law has been one of the Twins’ best pitchers all Spring, tossing seven shutout innings with ten strikeouts. Stashak, on the other hand, has also pitched seven innings with a 7.71 ERA and earned just 6 strikeouts.
There’s one big issue-Law isn’t on the forty-man, while Stashak is. If Law isn’t added, he will likely ask for his release as a minor-league signee. The Twins shouldn’t want that. They should make the adjustments necessary to keep him around.