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Updated: May 19th, 2010 6:31pm
Twins looking at important roster decision

Twins looking at important roster decision

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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After yesterday's 11-2 throttling in Toronto, the Twins recalled RHP Jeff Manship from Class-AAA Rochester, while optioning INF Matt Tolbert back to the minors.

The move currently gives the Twins 13 pitchers. As recently as two weeks ago the Twins utilized an 11-man pitching staff.

Reading between the lines, it appears as if manager Ron Gardenhire has grown wary about using RHP Jesse Crain in any situation that doesn't involve a five-run deficit. And even then, with Crain's chronic struggles this season (7.31 ERA, three home runs allowed), that five-run deficit is likely to grow.

SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) is eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow, but he did not make the trip to Boston with the team. Now it sounds as if Hardy may not be ready to play on Friday either, when the Twins return home for a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Per Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press, Hardy is still only hitting off a tee, and Gardenhire said "that doesn't tell me he's going to be ready to go" by Friday.

To make matters even more complicated, the Twins promoted LHP Tyler Robertson from Class-AA New Britain to Class-AAA Rochester to replace Manship, which indicates Manship's stint on the Major League roster could be more than just a two-day rental.

Of course, plans could change depending on Hardy's status this weekend, but the Twins can't continue playing long-term with only three bench hitters -- two of which are unable to fill-in defensively (Jim Thome, Drew Butera).

If Hardy is unable to return this weekend, expect the Twins to recall another infielder -- possibly shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who doubled and homered earlier today for Rochester. Plouffe is now hitting over .300, with an on-base percentage over .370, and 18 extra base hits in 164 plate appearances.

Regardless of which infielder joins the team this weekend -- and it would be somewhat mind-boggling if the Twins carried 13 pitchers into the Milwaukee series -- it will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out.

This could be the end of the line for Crain, who is out of options. If the Twins designate him for assignment, he would be exposed to the waiver wire.

A tough decision to make for a front office that had enough faith in the right-hander to keep him around for $2 million this season.

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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