FORT MYERS Fla. — Other than Jose Berrios, who the Twins already have announced will get the ball Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians, new manager Rocco Baldelli isn’t quite yet ready to announce how he will deploy the rest of his starters to begin the season.
But with so many days off to begin the season — five in a 15-day stretch — it appears that Martin Perez will begin the season in the bullpen before moving back to the rotation once the schedule normalizes.
“I’m not going to start any games because I’m not going to have the chance with a lot of days off,” Perez said. “April 15 (for a first start). I’m OK with that. I just want to pitch. I don’t care.”
Perez, who was supposed to take the mound against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, March 19, in Sarasota, instead threw a simulated game at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers. During it, he said he tried to practice facing Indians hitters.
He threw 70 pitches, and he expects to throw again in Sunday’s game.
This won’t be the first time pitching out of the bullpen for Perez. The Rangers moved him there last year for the latter part of the season.
“I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy, because I have to stay focused like a starter,” he said. “I’m going to do my routine, because that’s going to be my spot this year, as a starter. I’m not going to take anything easy. I think it’s time to start strong and finish strong.”
The rest of the rotation plans and where Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda line up, should come soon enough with the season beginning in a little over a week, on March 29 at Target Field.
But for now, Baldelli still wants to keep everything under wraps.
“It’s one thing to name Jose the Opening Day starter,” he said. “But to actually lay out our pitching going forward, especially with our schedule and potential weather issues, I don’t think we need to probably announce any of that at this point. We feel pretty good about where we sit.”
Game washed out
For the second time in less than a week, the Twins were washed out as rain pelted Florida on Tuesday.
Only three of the seven scheduled Grapefruit League games were played. The Twins received news of the cancellation shortly before they were set to get on the bus for the drive to Sarasota.
“It causes you to make some minor changes. The weather is what it is. You make adjustments and you find the innings for the pitchers and the at-bats for the hitters,” Baldelli said. “You might shuffle the lineups over the next couple of days, but it’s not generally a major issue.”
Before the 2019 season gets under way, Justin Morneau will take the mound for the ceremonial first pitch. He will do so before calling the game as part of the Fox Sports North broadcast crew.
Sean Tillman, also known as Har Mar Superstar, a Minneapolis songwriter, will sing the national anthem before the game, and there will be a pregame flyover. The first 30,000 fans through the gates will receive a Twins puffer vest. Additional details are available on the Twins’ official website.