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Twins facing hard decisions on final roster

Minnesota Twins left fielder Michael Reed (30) hits a sacrifice fly during the second inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Fla., on March 17, 2019. Butch Dill / USA TODAY Sports

FORT MYERS Fla. — As the number of days until Opening Day dwindle, the number of players in the clubhouse continues to shrink as well. After Tuesday, March 19, the Twins had 41 players remaining in big-league camp, a number that will need to get down to 25 next week.

But though cuts have been happening since March 8, the more difficult decisions are coming soon. And those who are involved have been making those decisions even tougher as the Twins sort through their bench options.

“It’s a great problem for the Twins to have, but those are very difficult decisions,” first-year manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When you have guys that give you everything they have, and they’re great people and great players, it’s not always easy.”

Mitch Garver figures to be the back-up catcher. Fellow catcher Willians Astudillo would provide the Twins with some flexibility since he is able to play both in the infield and outfield as well. The Twins could opt to carry both of them.

Ehire Adrianza, who is out of options, seems likely to nab a bench spot. Adrianza is hitting .406 this spring. At the beginning of camp, Adrianza was worried about his surgically-repaired left shoulder, which he said was sore. But Friday, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate, and was pleased with how he was feeling.

“He’s getting there and putting good swings on the ball,” Baldelli said that day. “He’s come back nicely, back to the point where, again, I’m still watching these guys and have 20-30 at bats with some of our guys right now. (I don’t have) much history with them, but Adrianza looked good.”

Outfielder Jake Cave, who played in 91 games last season for the Twins, could fill the fourth outfielder role, as could Michael Reed, who was picked up off waivers this offseason.

The Twins are dealing with multiple players who are out of options: Adrianza, Reed, Tyler Austin among them. Cave does have an option.

“I’ve been in this situation before. The difference is that I’ve played (at) the big-league level here. But like I said, baseball’s baseball,” Cave said earlier this spring. “If there was something I could do about the roster spot, I’d obviously have myself penciled in as a starting outfielder in the big leagues. But I can’t do that.”

Austin made his case last season with the Twins after coming over last season from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn trade. But his path got a little tougher when the Twins brought in first baseman C.J. Cron, designated hitter Nelson Cruz and the multi-positional Marwin Gonzalez.

“I can’t control any of that stuff, so I can just control what I’m doing on the field. I hadn’t put too much thought into it,” Austin said last week. “I’ve been in positions over the last couple years where I’m fighting to make the team, so there’s no pressure on me. I’m just going about my day and trying to get better every day.”

He’s doing his best in his audition, leading the team in hits this spring hitting with 16. He also has hit three home runs and is batting 390.

Ronald Torreyes, along with non-roster invitees Lucas Duda and Adam Rosales, both longtime major-league veterans, also have been making their case this spring.

“The Rosaleses, the Torreyeses, the Dudas … those types of players, we have several of them that came in here, and they’re performing in the games, they are giving everything they have, they’re concentrating on every drill we do during the mornings,” Baldelli said.

All this is to say that the Twins will have some very difficult decisions to make before they break camp.

“The better our guys perform and compete and handle themselves, the more difficult everything is for all of us, but I’d have it no other way,” Baldelli said. “These are all the kind of guys you want to have on your roster when you break camp.”

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