CHICAGO — The Twins spent the beginning of the season trying to field five healthy starters. Now, with Jake Odorizzi back in the fold, they have six.
And that means they either needed to shift into a six-man rotation, roll with a piggyback situation or make a roster move.
The Twins chose the third route, optioning Randy Dobnak to their alternate site to make room on the roster for Odorizzi, who started against the White Sox on Wednesday night. Dobnak originally took hold of a rotation spot at the beginning of the year when Odorizzi was on the injured list for the first time. Through his first six starts, Dobnak had given up just six runs and boasted a 1.78 earned-run average.
Those numbers have tailed off of late with Dobnak giving up four or more runs in three of his past four starts, though manager Rocco Baldelli said that wasn’t the overriding factor for what he called a “very challenging decision.”
“Where he’s at right now, where he’s throwing, with limited games coming up, with two off days in the final week of the season also being there, we thought it would be challenging as we’re probably going to be lining up certain pitchers in certain spots next week,” Baldelli said. “… We needed a spot on the roster and we wanted to maximize our roster going into the last 10 days of the season really is what it comes down to.”
Baldelli said that having two off-days next week “drastically” affects what the Twins will do as they start lining up their rotation for the playoffs. But Dobnak will remain with the team, stay on his own schedule and remain ready for if the Twins need him moving forward, Baldelli said.
The Twins are rolling with three catchers on the roster as Alex Avila was also reinstated from the injured list Wednesday. He joins Ryan Jeffers and Willians Astudillo on the roster.
Avila was placed on the injured list Sept. 5 with low back tightness. To make room on the roster, the Twins optioned utility player Travis Blankenhorn. Blankenhorn was called up on Monday and debuted Tuesday.
Meanwhile catcher Mitch Garver, who is in St. Paul rehabbing an intercostal strain, recently took a baseball to “a pretty uncomfortable spot,” Baldelli said, and the Twins are monitoring him.
Spring training schedule
The next chance for Twins fans to see the team in person will likely come Feb. 27 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
That’s the day the team begins its spring training schedule with a game against the Rays. The Twins are scheduled to play 33 Grapefruit League games this upcoming spring — 16 at home at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla., and 17 on the road.
The spring home opener will be Feb. 28 against the Baltimore Orioles. Their spring finale falls on March 30 against the Pirates. After that, the Twins will pack up and head north for Opening Day, which is scheduled for April 1 against the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Ticket information for home games at Hammond Stadium will be announced at a later date.