Diving into the depths: Minnesota Twins

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Minnesota Twins
Rotation
1. Scott Baker
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Carl Pavano
5. Francisco Liriano
6. Glen Perkins
7. Brian Duensing
8. Anthony Swarzak
9. Jeff Manship
10. Mike Maroth
11. Tyler Robertson
12. Carlos Gutierrez
I had Liriano seventh when I did the depth chart for the draft guide a month ago, but I think there’s greater reason for optimism now following his successful stint in the Dominican Winter League. If Liriano does manage to walk away with a rotation spot, then a trade involving Perkins would become a more likely possibility. Maybe he’d fetch the backup center fielder the Twins need.
Bullpen
1. Joe Nathan
2. Matt Guerrier
3. Jose Mijares
4. Jon Rauch
5. Jesse Crain
6. Pat Neshek
7. Francisco Liriano
8. Clay Condrey
9. Brian Duensing
10. Glen Perkins
11. Anthony Slama
12. Kyle Waldrop
13. Carlos Gutierrez
14. Mike Maroth
15. Rob Delaney
16. Alex Burnett
17. Ryan Mullins
Liriano should round out the pen if he’s not in the rotation. Otherwise, it would seem to be a battle between Condrey and Duensing, though Duensing is another possibility for the rotation. Or maybe Crain will be traded if the relievers below him impress.


Catcher
1. Joe Mauer
2. Jose Morales
3. Drew Butera
4. Wilson Ramos
First base
1. Justin Morneau
2. Michael Cuddyer
3. Erik Lis
Second base
1. Orlando Hudson
2. Nick Punto
3. Alexi Casilla
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Brendan Harris
Third base
1. Nick Punto
2. Brendan Harris
3. Danny Valencia
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Luke Hughes
Shortstop
1. J.J. Hardy
2. Nick Punto
3. Matt Tolbert
4. Alexi Casilla
5. Brendan Harris
With Morales iffy for Opening Day after wrist surgery, either Butera or the 22-year-old Ramos could open the season as Mauer’s backup.
Left field
1. Delmon Young
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
Center field
1. Denard Span
2. Delmon Young
3. Ben Revere
4. Jacque Jones
5. Rene Tosoni
Right field
1. Michael Cuddyer
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
5. Rene Tosoni
Designated hitter
1. Jason Kubel
2. Jim Thome
3. Justin Morneau
With Thome, Harris and the backup catcher set to occupy bench spots, the Twins have just one spot open. A legitimate backup center fielder would be nice, but the team will likely go with either Casilla or Tolbert. While Casilla is the greater talent and has the advantage of being out of options, the organization seems to prefer Tolbert.

Albert Pujols hit his 597th career home run

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Angels DH Albert Pujols smacked his 597th career home run, a two-run shot in the top of the first inning during Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. The blast was off of Erasmo Ramirez and marked No. 6 on the season for the future Hall of Famer.

Pujols finished 1-for-3 with the homer and a walk. After Wednesday’s game, he’s hitting a lackluster .244/.296/.378 with 34 RBI and 14 runs scored in 186 trips to the plate.

Pujols currently ranks ninth on baseball’s all-time leaderboard and is three shy of joining the 600-homer club. He’s currently 13 home runs away from tying Sammy Sosa for eighth all-time.

Chris Sale’s streak of starts with at least 10 strikeouts ends

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale entered Wednesday’s outing against the Rangers with at least 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive starts, tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez. He failed do break the record, racking up only six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Fortunately, the Red Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put him in line for the win. Sale gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk.

After Wednesday’s outing, Sale is sitting on a 2.34 ERA with a 101/14 K/BB ratio in 73 innings. So far, so good for the Red Sox, who acquired Sale from the White Sox in December.

Sale previously racked up 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive games between May 23 and June 30 in 2015 with the White Sox. Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat for the Red Sox between August 19 and September 27 in 1999.