Twins option Luke Hughes, Jim Hoey to Class-AAA Rochester; bullpen set
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Leading the Minnesota Twins in home runs and RBIs wasn't enough for infielder Luke Hughes to make the opening-day roster.
The team announced on Sunday that Hughes and right-handers Jim Hoey and Anthony Slama have been optioned to Triple-A Rochester, meaning Tolbert has won the utility infielder battle, and Jeff Manship has secured the remaining right-handed relief spot.
With manager Ron Gardenhire telling 1500 ESPN on Saturday that "(Glen) Perkins is definitely going to be on our club," the bullpen is set. Lefties Perkins and Dusty Hughes will join Manship, left-hander Jose Mijares, and right-handers Kevin Slowey, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps to fill out a seven-man bullpen.
The Twins must decide what to do with left-hander Scott Diamond, a Rule-5 draftee who must pass through waivers and be offered to his former team, Atlanta, if general manager Bill Smith and company want to send him to Triple-A Rochester. It's possible the Twins could swing a trade.
Hughes hit six home runs this spring -- twice as many as anyone else on the roster -- while hitting .246 with three doubles, 15 RBIs and a .569 slugging percentage. But he drew only two walks in 68 plate appearances and is less versatile in the field than Tolbert.
"Luke has had a very good camp," general manager Bill Smith told 1500 ESPN. "We don't want him to just sit. he's in a pretty good groove right now. We don't want him to come up and sit on the bench waiting for a pinch-hit opportunity. He's not that kind of player right now.
"We need a shortstop. If we do hit for somebody it might be Casilla, but we need a shortstop."
Hughes was visibly disappointed in the clubhouse, but kept his spirits high as he shook hands with teammates for the final time this spring.
"It was definitely a very enjoyable experience this spring training, and I'll be upset to see it come to an end," Hughes said. "But hey, that's baseball. It's a business, and I understand that."
"I'll go down to Triple-A and get after it."
When breaking the news to Hughes, the Twins brought Denard Span in to chat with the infielder.
"He was in this position a couple years ago," Hughes said, "and he went down and played great down there and got an opportunity not long after that. So I was kind of given the message of, 'Make sure you go down there and do what Denard did. Go down there and rake.'"
As for Hoey, the Twins would like him to work on slowing down his split-fingered fastball, to better complement his 96-mph four-seam fastball.
The Twins now have 34 players left in camp. Eight other players -- pitchers Phil Dumatrait, Carlos Gutierrez, Kyle Waldrop and Chuck James; catcher Danny Lehmann; infielder Chase Lambin; and outfielder Brian Dinkelman -- are scheduled to be optioned by Wednesday.
Tom Pelissero contributed to this report