FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins whittled down the number of players in camp for the first time this spring on Monday, March 9, optioning seven players to the minor-league side in the first round of cuts.
Lewis Thorpe, Jorge Alcala, Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino were optioned as the Twins trimmed their number of active players from 64 to 55. The Twins also placed Fernando Romero on the restricted list. The moves were the first in a series as the Twins’ roster must get down to 26 before Opening Day on March 26 in Oakland.
“As a whole, this group handled themselves very well. This was something that’s lined up schedule-wise, this is the time when those guys are going to go to the minor-league side,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “They’re going to prepare for their own seasons. They’ll get their work in, hopefully get some more innings and at-bats, and build them all up in their respective spots and positions.”
Gordon, the Twins’ No. 1 draft pick in 2014, has been slowed by a gastrointestinal issue that has affected him for nearly two years. It delayed his beginning to spring training as he was unable to get into game action until March 5.
Romero, who was supposed to be vying for a bullpen spot, has yet to report to camp after he was turned back to the Dominican Republic by United States customs. He is now in the visa process, waiting for the opportunity to re-enter the country, and Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said the move to the restricted list was “just to make the official transaction,” and the team had no update on when he might return.
The most notable of the bunch is Thorpe, who entered camp as an option for the Twins as the fifth starter in the rotation. But Thorpe’s chances to break into the rotation out of camp were interrupted when he left camp for about 10 days for personal reasons, which set him behind on his throwing schedule.
“I can’t say he was excited about it, but I think he was understanding,” Baldelli said of Thorpe. “He knows what we are asking him to do. What we are asking him to do has been very well laid out for him. And now he has to go and follow through and do it. We know the ability that he has. … He’s a guy that can pitch in the big leagues and do it well. He just has to prepare for his season and make sure he’s ready once the bell rings.”
At this point, Thorpe has yet to appear in a game, and with him out of the picture for Opening Day, that spot in the rotation is now down to Randy Dobnak, who started Monday’s game, Devin Smeltzer and veteran Jhoulys Chacin.
The only other true battle in camp at the moment is for the 26th roster spot, which appears as if it will come down to Willians Astudillo, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. Those decisions, though, will be made much closer to the end of camp, with plenty more rounds of cuts to come before that.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from those guys,” Baldelli said of the players who were optioned. “They handled their camp very well.”