Opening Day roster comes into focus after cuts
Dozier, Towles, Dinkelman, Fien sent to Minor League camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins essentially set their Opening Day roster, as they reassigned infielder Brian Dozier, catcher J.R. Towles, outfielder Brian Dinkelman and right-hander Casey Fien to Minor League camp on Sunday.
The Twins now have 27 players in camp, including right-handers Scott Baker and Jason Marquis. But Baker will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with elbow tendinitis to open the season, and Marquis is likely start the season on the bereavement list to tend to his 7-year-old daughter, who was seriously injured in a bicycle accident last week.
"We got the 25 right now that we've chosen after going through 66 guys," general manager Terry Ryan said. "They did a good job. This camp has been pretty smooth. We've got the 25 that we're comfortable with right now, but as we know, the roster is fluid. Last year, all heck broke lose about a week in, so we'll see how it unfolds and make sure we've got the right pieces here."
Minnesota will open the year with four starting pitchers -- Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Liam Hendriks and Nick Blackburn -- because it has an off-day on April 10.
The Twins still elected to go with 12 pitchers, so their eight-man bullpen will be composed of closer Matt Capps; left-handers Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Matt Maloney; and right-handers Anthony Swarzak, Jared Burton, Alex Burnett and Jeff Gray. Burton, however, is not on the 40-man roster, and he has yet to be officially placed on the roster.
But Ryan said he's happy with the way the bullpen shaped up, as the club started with 33 pitchers to open camp.
"I think they did a good job," Ryan said. "I think they earned their keep here. I think there were some tough decisions there at the end. With Baker and Marquis, it allowed a couple people to stay, so it worked itself out. We're going to go with the four starters and see where we are with Marquis and Baker in the next 10 days or so."
With the decision to option Towles, the Twins will also have two catchers on the roster with Ryan Doumit set to serve as Joe Mauer's backup.
Towles hit .261 with two homers and a double in 14 games, and he will compete for playing time at Triple-A Rochester with Drew Butera and Rene Rivera.
The Twins originally planned on keeping three catchers, but with Justin Morneau set to see extended time at designated hitter instead of Doumit, the club decided to stick with two backstops.
"Signing here I knew there was a possibility of bringing three catchers," Towles said. "I felt coming in it was a good opportunity. I knew what I had cut out for me, and I feel like I did what I can do. I feel I did well, and I'm going to go down now and get my work in and go from there."
Minnesota will carry seven infielders, with Morneau, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll, Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Chris Parmelee and Sean Burroughs on the roster. Burroughs, like Burton, is not on the 40-man roster yet, but it's only a formality for him to be added to the squad.
Morneau, though, appears set to start the year as the Twins' DH, with rookie Parmelee getting a chance to play first base after a solid spring that came after he hit .355 as a September callup last year.
"I was very impressed, although maybe I shouldn't have been because of what he showed in September," Ryan said of Parmelee. "I did see him play quite a bit in September last year, and he was good then, and he's good now."
The Twins also made the decision to send Dozier -- the club's Minor League player of the Year in 2011 --- to Triple-A even though the shortstop had a solid spring.
But it gives Dozier a chance to play every day, and even though manager Ron Gardenhire hinted he wanted to keep Dozier on the roster, he said it was the best move for both parties.
"Brian Dozier has not had an at-bat above Double-A," Gardenhire said. "We'll get him a few swings at Triple-A and see how everything goes here. He had a heck of a spring."
Dozier took the demotion in stride, but said he plans on making an impact with the Twins at some point this year.
"Personally, I think I'm ready," Dozier said, "but at the same time, it's a business. So I'm just going to go down to Triple-A and keep working hard and be prepared when that time comes."
The Twins opted to go with four outfielders, with Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere on the team.
Willingham is slated to start in left, with Span in center and a combination of Plouffe, Revere, Doumit and Parmelee in right. Plouffe is also expected to see occasional time at second base and shortstop.
The odd-man out was Dinkelman, who hit .301 in 23 games with the Twins last season and .341 this spring. At Triple-A, Dinkelman will see time in the outfield as well as at second base and third base.
"I think it's exciting to be here to the very last day," Dinkelman said. "I thought I had a good spring, and they said they liked everything I did, playing a couple positions. So it's good. Now I just have to go to Triple-A and continue doing what I do."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.