Spring Training Quick Hits: March 28

Baker will be the number five starter.

Here is the latest edition of Spring Training Quick Hits.

The shortstop situation continues to bedevil the decision-making of Twins officials as the final days of camp tick down.

Part of the uncertainty surrounds Jason Bartlett's hamstring injury. But part of it, too, involves Bartlett's less-than-spectacular play while others such as Nick Punto and Juan Castro have looked good.

So one day after inspiring visions of a platoon by saying "I just don't have an everyday guy right now," manager Ron Gardenhire clarified that statement Monday by saying he planned to name a starting shortstop. "A regular, everyday guy -- yeah, we're going to have one, but they're all going to play," he said.

Then he also said that Bartlett will open the season in Triple-A if he's unable to win the starting job. That has to do not only with Bartlett's showing in comparison to the two other guys but also the fact that Bartlett is not considered a capable backup at any position except short.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • CF Torii Hunter, who missed the final two months of last season because of a broken ankle, left Monday's exhibition game after sliding hard into second base after hitting a double. "He said he was a little sore with his foot today," manager Ron Gardenhire said. The injury was not considered serious.

  • SS/3B Juan Castro impressed the staff in his first start of the spring during a 3-2 victory over Toronto on Monday. Castro in particular looked sharp turning double plays with Gold Glove 2B Luis Castillo. "They're very quick," manager Ron Gardenhire said of that potential double-play combination. "When those guys in the middle catch the ball like that, that's pretty good."

  • SS/2B Nick Punto and SS/3B Juan Castro are both scheduled to make the long bus trip to Dunedin, Fla., for Tuesday's Grapefruit League game, and whoever starts at short could be an indication of where the team is leaning for its Opening Day starter exactly one week later.

  • RHP Juan Rincon is scheduled to pitch in a game for the first this spring Tuesday, the first major test of the pitching elbow that has bothered him all spring. If all goes well, the team's top setup man would pitch again Wednesday, but both of those appearances are scheduled for the minor league side of camp, giving the Twins the option of backdating a disabled list move as far back as they want should Rincon have a setback.

  • The release of veteran LHP Darrell May on Sunday and a pitching schedule this week that has touted rookie LHP Francisco Liriano going in relief Wednesday behind starter RHP Carlos Silva all but assures Liriano will break camp with the team in the bullpen. That means RHP Scott Baker, another rookie, will open the season as the fifth starter
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