FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two weeks ago, Ricky Nolasco wasn’t willing to go down the path of what would happen if he were asked to pitch in the bullpen. The longtime starter wasn’t ready to consider the possibility that he might not be one of the five best starters at the end of Twins spring training.
“We’ll see when the time gets there,” Nolasco told 1500ESPN.com at the time. “We’ll see how I’m throwing the ball and things like that, so I think a lot of it has to depend on that. I’m not going to comment on that until whatever ends up happening happens, and when the time comes whether that’s the situation or not we’ll see what my reaction will be. But I don’t know what’s going to happen so I can’t even get there.”
But now his agent, Matt Sosnick, has taken it a step further.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) March 9, 2016
Here’s what Nolasco’s agent said, according to Darren Wolfson:
“Ricky has been an effective starter in the big leagues for 10 seasons. Last year was an injury filled season, and he certainly deserves to show the Twins what he looks like without trying to pitch through pain. The Twins evaluate talent very well, and their minor league system is a testament to the time and effort they put into that part of the game. They paid Ricky almost 50M dollars two years ago based on the totality of his work. I won’t believe he is not in the rotation until I see it.
“If the club believes that he is better suited for a relief role, Ricky has made it clear to me that he would directly address his feelings of disappointment to his manager and the GM, and that he would ask the team about his other options.”
Barring injuries, four players are penciled into the rotation right now: Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson and Tyler Duffey. That leaves Nolasco, Tommy Milone, Trevor May and J.O. Berrios to compete for the fifth and final rotation spot.
Nolasco pitched 3 scoreless innings Tuesday with the help of a pair of double plays. Joe Vavra managed the Twins’ split-squad game in Fort Myers on Tuesday because manager Paul Molitor was managing a game in Dunedin. Vavra was asked how Nolasco has handled the spring competition and Vavra said he wants to stay away from that dynamic.
“He’s aware of the situation and he’s got to go out and make his pitches and basically see where it leads to,” Vavra said. “I’m not sure about those dynamics, that’s out of my hands.”
Wolfson can be heard every week on The Scoop podcast.