FORT MYERS, Fla. — One of the very first things Josh Donaldson, the Twins’ $92 million man, said at the beginning of his introductory press conference last month, was how much he was looking forward to helping develop younger players in the organization.
Day one? Check.
Donaldson made his first appearance at Twins camp on Saturday and went right to work following through on that promise.
The third baseman arrived a couple days ahead of the position player report date, which is Monday, and was in the batting cages holding court with a group of the team’s prospects that included top prospect Royce Lewis, catcher Ryan Jeffers and second baseman Travis Blankenhorn.
As Donaldson talked hitting, he had a captive audience. After all, there are worse people to listen to than a former American League MVP.
“There’s plenty of information out there for younger guys, but what it takes is guys that understand the information to help get the message across to them and continue to help these guys develop through their tenure as a Minnesota Twin,” Donaldson said in January. “I’m looking forward to being a guy that can continue to establish other people, help other people.”
Twins set plans
A couple days earlier, Rocco Baldelli said his good friend and former bench coach, Derek Shelton, had been bugging him for the Twins’ Grapefruit League opener pitching plans. Baldelli joked he might never send them over to Shelton, the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He evidently cracked quickly, announcing his team’s pitching plans on Saturday. The Twins will start with a game against the University of Minnesota on Feb. 21 with Randy Dobnak on the mound. Devin Smeltzer will face Shelton’s Pirates the next day in the opener while Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda will take the first two home Grapefruit League games.
While the Twins might eventually use some of their young starters in the bullpen for long relief — Dobnak, Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe were among those who filled in that role last year — they’re keeping them stretched out.
“We have guys that could end up in our rotation, they could end up in the bullpen in a longer-type role. They could end up at the Triple-A level to start the year, maybe help us later on. There’s no way to know that as we sit here right now,” Baldelli said. “…We generally will stretch a lot of our guys out. They’re preparing as starters even though they’ll come into some of these games out of the bullpen and that gives us as many options as we possibly can.”
Romo briefly sidelined
Sergio Romo will be sidelined for the next few days as he deals with a minor injury in his non-throwing shoulder. Baldelli said the reliever had the “most minor of minor left shoulder strains.”