Making the Team: Week 1

It’s always an interesting discussion as the roster begins to come together each year. With the first games of the spring comes the start of many competitions for positions and roster spots. This year the competitions are more minor, and the roster spots currently up for grabs include a fifth starting pitcher, a final relief pitcher, a backup catcher, and a final bench player. 

The battles are seemingly even in week one, but as games begin, players will begin to establish their opportunities to be with the big league club when they begin the season in Los Angeles, and open Target Field one week later.
Who do you think might jump into the mix? Who will take over the different battles? 

Player Chance Notes
Wilson Ramos (C) With backup catcher Jose Morales expected to miss at least the first part of April, Ramos has suddenly earned a chance to crack the Opening Day roster. His hitting is superior to his competition, but only time will tell if that’s enough for Gardy to take him north with the club.
Drew Butera (C) Butera will also earn a chance to crack the Opening Day roster, and while Ramos is all about offense, Butera is all about defense. A great glove and Triple-A experience could help Butera take the job.
Danny Valencia (3B) While Valencia is viewed by many as the future at third base, he isn’t young by any means. Valencia is 25-years old, and hasn’t yet been called to The Bigs. It’s a long shot that he’ll snatch the job in the next month, but this is his time to show off his skills for a chance in the near future. 
Alexi Casilla (IF) Casilla has no more options remaining, and if he doesn’t make the club out of spring training, he’ll almost certainly be with another organization. His option status may actually help him, but he’ll still need to be productive in the next month to secure a roster spot.
Matt Tolbert (IF) Matt Tolbert can play all around the infield, and if he can play centerfield, it’ll make him even more valuable. With one option remaining, the Twins could eventually opt to send him to Triple-A and go with Casilla if spring production is similar or neither blow the team away.
Jacque Jones (OF) When the Twins first brought back Jacque Jones, it seemed to simply be a kind gesture to their former starting outfielder. Jones has an uphill battle to climb, but if he can play extraordinary defense, hit well, and have Tolbert and Casilla falter in their outfield attempts, he has an outside chance to rejoin the organization in Minneapolis.  

Francisco Liriano (SP) If Francisco Liriano produces anywhere near the way he did this winter, he’ll likely take the final spot in the rotation easily. It likely won’t be easy with at least two other competitors, but with his contract structured for appearances in the bullpen too, he’s likely to make the team in some capacity. 
Brian Duensing (SP) Brian Duensing will have a difficult time knocking Liriano out of the rotation battle if ‘The Franchise’ pitches the way he did in Venezuelan ball, but he seems to also have a shot at the bullpen if he can’t get into the starting five. 
Glen Perkins (SP) The general consensus amongst many is that Glen Perkins will be traded. While that may be the case, if he performs well this spring and the offerings aren’t to the team’s liking, Perkins could be kept around as a left-handed option out of the ‘pen.
Pat Neshek (RP) Everybody hopes that Pat Neshek will return to his pre-injury form and put the team’s bullpen over the top. With one bullpen spot open and the extra starters in the mix for the spot as well, it’s possible that Neshek, who hasn’t pitched in a game in 14 months, could pitch for a week or so in extended spring training before joining the team at Target Field. 
Mike Maroth (RP) Mike Maroth doesn’t seem to have much of a chance to make the big league roster. Instead, a good spring performance could give him a job at Triple-A Rochester and give him a shot down the line in the event that injuries occur. 

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