Prospect Meyer among first spring roster cuts
Blackburn, Augenstein, Oliveros and Vasquez also sent to Minors camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first roster cuts of Spring Training on Sunday, as they reassigned right-handed pitchers Bryan Augenstein, Nick Blackburn, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Esmerling Vasquez to Minor League camp.
Minnesota is expected to cut about six more Monday, according to general manager Terry Ryan. The club has 62 players in camp: 30 pitchers (eight non-roster), nine catchers (four non-roster), 13 infielders (six non-roster) and 10 outfielders (four non-roster).
Blackburn, who underwent right wrist surgery in January, and Oliveros, who had Tommy John surgery in August, are out with injuries. Blackburn is rehabbing his injury and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season, while Oliveros is out until July.
Meyer, who was acquired in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals, was the most impressive pitcher of the group before being reassigned. Meyer, ranked as the No. 40 overall prospect by MLB.com, tossed five scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play, with three strikeouts and two walks.
Meyer, 23, is expected to start the season at Double-A New Britain after posting a combined 2.86 ERA with 139 strikeouts and 45 walks in 129 innings split between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac last season.
"We need to stretch him out," Ryan said. "He has to develop his changeup. He's a legitimate starting pitcher and we need to make sure his three-pitch mix -- which he has -- is polished up. I don't think anybody here was displeased with anything he did here and not only physically, but mentally. He's a good teammate, he's coachable, he's attentive."
Vasquez, who had a 5.68 ERA in six starts with the Twins last season, had a 6.75 ERA in 2 2/3 innings in Spring Training. He's not on the 40-man roster and is expected to start at Triple-A Rochester.
Augenstein, meanwhile, made only one spring appearance. The non-roster invitee, who pitched for Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate last season, gave up a run in one inning against the Pirates on Feb. 25.
Hendriks blames trio of homers on his mechanics
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Liam Hendriks had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark in his fourth Grapefruit League start on Sunday against the Pirates, as he served up three homers at Hammond Stadium.
Hendriks surrendered just three hits over three innings, but all three hits went over the left-field fence. Gaby Sanchez was the first to go deep with a solo shot in the second before Tony Sanchez added a solo blast and Andrew McCutchen connected on a two-run homer in the third.
Hendriks blamed his mechanics, as he couldn't repeat his delivery and was falling behind in the count, especially in his third and final inning.
"Everything was feeling good, but I just couldn't repeat myself today," Hendriks said. "I almost felt too loose and I was a little bit all over the place. I just couldn't throw back-to-back pitches where I wanted to. It was a tough day. I was able to get through most of it, but I ran into some trouble in the third because I was getting behind."
Hendriks, though, said he's feeling healthy this spring. The right-hander, who had a bone chip removed from his right elbow in December, has a 5.73 ERA in four starts in Grapefruit League play.
"My arm is feeling really good," Hendriks said. "It was just one of those days where I couldn't repeat anything, so it'll give me something to work on the next couple of days."
Prospect Arcia debuts; Parmelee returning soon
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Prospect Oswaldo Arcia made his Grapefruit League debut against the Pirates on Sunday after missing the club's first 15 games because of a strained intercostal muscle.
Arcia, ranked as the No. 93 overall prospect according to MLB.com, started in right field and batted fifth. He went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts.
He was the club's Minor League Player of the Year last year after hitting a combined .320/.388/.539 with 17 homers, 36 doubles and eight triples in 124 games between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.
He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Rochester, but could make his Major League debut this season.
Fellow right fielder Chris Parmelee, who has been slowed by tightness in his right groin, remains on track to return on Wednesday. After taking Saturday off from swinging, he felt good enough to swing the bat on Sunday and said the club is just being cautious so that he doesn't suffer any setbacks.
"I'm feeling better," said Parmelee, who injured himself running the bases in Jupiter on Monday. "I'm swinging today in the cages today."
Plouffe aggravates calf strain, held out of lineup
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe aggravated his strained right calf on Sunday and was held out of the lineup against the Pirates for precautionary reasons.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the injury is not serious, but the club is just being cautious with Plouffe, who missed Minnesota's first three Grapefruit League games with the injury before playing in his first game on Feb. 26.
"He tweaked that calf again," Ryan said. "He did it this morning. He was doing the right things, he just tweaked. So it's just day to day, so he'll be all right."
Plouffe suffered the injury in workouts before the game against the Pirates at Hammond Stadium.
"He got his calf again," Gardenhire said. "It's going to be a few days. So we'll have to wait and see. You always want to see how he's feeling the second day. My guess is about a week-plus."
Plouffe has been impressive, hitting .407 with a double in nine games.