Sunday, February 12, 2017

Five Pitcher And Catcher Headlines

Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer, USA Today Sports 
Twins pitchers and catchers report at the beginning of this week. With the Twins coming off the worst record in franchise history, there are plenty of decisions that need to be settled this spring. Here are five pitcher and catcher headlines to watch this spring:

Can Castro Make An Immediate Impact?
Minnesota's biggest off-season move was signing catcher Jason Castro after parting ways with Kurt Suzuki. Castro comes to the Twins with a reputation for being a strong defensive catcher. Minnesota's pitching was lackluster in 2016 and the new front office hopes Castro can make an immediate impact on the staff. Castro will get his first chance to work with Twins pitchers this spring. It might take a good chunk of the season to notice the "Castro Effect" but a shift should start in the weeks ahead.

May Moves Back To Starting
Even before the new regime took over, it sounded like May would be moving back into a starting role. This plan became even more evident at TwinsFest as the new front office and May talked about the transition back into the rotation. When the Twins were in the 2010 Wild Card race, May pitched very well in relief. So well in fact, that the club left him there for 2016 as he dealt with an injury plagued season. Minnesota hopes that normal days off between starts will keep May healthy and help him to earn a starting spot for years to come.

Hughes And Perkins Coming Back From Injury
Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins were two of the most important pitchers on the 2015 squad. Perkins made his third straight All-Star Game and Hughes led a rotation that was in the playoff hunt until the season's final weekend. Hughes has been throwing bullpens and the hope is he enters spring with no limitations. Perkins experienced renewed discomfort in his throwing shoulder. With a set-back, it's likely that Perkins won't be ready for the season to start. Brandon Kintzler should open the year as the team's closer.

Berrios Back To the Minors
Minnesota's starting rotation looks crowded as the team heads to Fort Myers. Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson might be the only locks as camp opens. If the aforementioned Hughes is healthy, he would be the third rotation member. This leaves two spots for the likes of Hector Santiago, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, and Jose Berrios. Berrios has been dominant in his time in the minors and it seems likely for him to start the year in Rochester. This leaves him one injury away from making it back to the big leagues where he will hopefully find more success.

Crowded Bullpen
Because of some poor starting pitching over the last couple years, Minnesota's bullpen has been taxed. This leaves an opportunity for a few new faces to earn their place. Brandon Kintzler should enter the year as the team's closer. If May shifts back to starting, there will be a lot of open spots to fill. The Twins just signed Matt Belisle to join returning arms like J.T. Chargois, Buddy Boshers, Ryan O'Rourke, Ryan Pressly, Adalberto Mejia, Taylor Rogers, and Michael Tonkin. There isn't going to be room for all of these arms so the weeks ahead will decide who fills each role for the club.

What pitcher and catcher headlines will you follow in the weeks ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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