On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins sent right-handed pitchers Samuel Deduno and P.J. Walters to the minor league camp effectively trimming their roster to 29 players. By opening day, the Twins’ roster must be set at 25 players and the team is now one cut away from having their roster set. Since three of the players the team is considering in camp have been injured and will likely open the season on the disabled list—Tim Wood, Rafael Perez and Rich Harden—these players will not count against the 25 player roster limit.
The competition will likely come down to Tyler Robertson, Liam Hendriks or possibly Alex Burnett. Hendriks’ chances may be in question after he was hit in the arm by a line drive off the bat of Brian Roberts during Tuesday’s spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles. Hendriks walked off the mound shaking his arm, but appeared to be okay as he left for the clubhouse. However, it is still too early to tell the severity of the injury to Hendriks until proper tests are done.
The demotion of Deduno is particularly interesting because of the impressive performance that he put up as part of the champion Dominican Republic team during the World Baseball Classic. Deduno even pitched in the championship game for the Dominicans and ended up beating Puerto Rico 3-0 for the title. During the championship game, Deduno struck out five in five scoreless innings of work while giving up two hits and walking three. He finished the WBC with a 0.69 ERA.
While those stats are impressive, the reason that Deduno is being sent down is likely because of injury. Deduno was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays because of tightness in his groin. It is believed that Deduno first suffered an injury to his groin while he was pitching for the Dominican Republic during the WBC championship. It was said that while pitching, Deduno slipped on the mound due to the wet and rainy conditions the game was played in. Whatever the cause, this injury has pushed Deduno’s debut for the season back.
There had been rumors circulating that Deduno was a top candidate to start for the Twins on opening day, but that honor now appears destined for Vance Worley. Deduno definitely made a name for himself during the WBC, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rejoin the club in a few weeks once his injury has fully healed.
Deduno has earned his place in the starting rotation for the Twins, and considering the team’s lack of depth in the rotation, Deduno seems like a vital piece to their pitching puzzle.