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Updated: March 27th, 2012 11:31am
Twins' final 25-man roster slot could make for complicated decisions

Twins' final 25-man roster slot could make for complicated decisions

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On Sunday, Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he'd leave the decision up to manager Ron Gardenhire on if he wanted to keep two catchers or three.

Indications are the Twins' final roster slot will come down to catcher Drew Butera or infielder Sean Burroughs.

But due to injuries, options and other factors, the final roster decision is shaping up to be much more complicated.

Here are the factors in play:

• Gardenhire likes having the luxury of three catchers, in large part because Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit could each see time as designated hitter. Rarely will the starting catcher be forced to leave a game due to injury at the same time the backup catcher is DHing, but it could happen. Gardenhire also likes having a third catcher because it allows him to be more liberal with pinch running late in games.

• Burroughs is out of minor league options. Because he signed a minor league contract, the Twins can reassign him to minor league camp if they choose. But once he is promoted to the 25-man roster (and, thus, the 40-man roster), the Twins would have to expose him to waivers if they wanted to send him back to Rochester at any point. In other words, once Burroughs is on the squad, there's no sending him back to Triple-A.

• Even if he's fully healthy, there's almost no way Scott Baker makes a regular-season start until April 15. He threw 51 pitches in his start on Monday, and he'll likely throw around 65 pitches on Saturday. After that, assuming four days rest, he wouldn't be able to pitch again until Thursday, April 5 -- likely in a minor league game, because the Twins leave Florida on April 4. Baker was initially slated to start the Twins' home opener on April 9. But because he'd likely only be ramped up to 80 pitches on April 5, and because he'd be throwing on three days rest, it makes sense to push him back. The Twins have an off day on April 10, meaning they don't need a fifth starter until April 15.

In theory, the Twins could place Baker on the disabled list after his Grapefruit League start on Saturday, as a procedural move, and reactivate him for April 15. In the meantime, they could carry 11 pitchers instead of 12 -- thus 14 position players instead of 13. Or they could keep an eighth reliever. Kyle Waldrop appears to be battling for the final bullpen slot with Alex Burnett and Jeff Gray, who is out of minor league options.

• Monday was the earliest day a team could retroactively place a player on the disabled list. Trevor Plouffe (strained hamstring) is scheduled to play in a minor league game on Wednesday, and it's possible the Twins could hold him out of Grapefruit League action and just place him on the disabled list to buy time when the season starts. If he continues to play in minor league games, the Twins could DL him retroactive to Monday and still get him back for the Angels series on April 9.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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