The Minnesota Twins optioned relief pitcher Caleb Thielbar to Triple-A Rochester this morning, setting the team’s pitching staff for Opening Day next week.
This move leaves the Twins with 12 pitchers in camp, the number that first-year manager Paul Molitor told media last week that he expected to begin the season with.
Thielbar has been a very effective arm out of the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins over the past two seasons, appearing in 103 games and posting a 2.59 ERA, but the 28-year-old lefty struggled through eight appearances this spring and allowed seven earned runs over 11 innings. The demotion of Thielbar also means the team will begin 2015 with two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, Brian Duensing and All-Star closer Glen Perkins.
Minnesota will begin the season on Monday against the Tigers with Phil Hughes on the mound looking to build off a very strong 2014 season. The rest of the starting rotation features free agent signee Ervin Santana, along with Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Milone.
The move this morning may come as a bit of a surprise to some, mostly because of how effective Thielbar has been the past two seasons. However, bullpen spots became limited in the past few days as Mike Pelfrey was demoted to long relief duties from the starting rotation and Minnesota also added 33-year-old veteran Blaine Boyer to the 40-man roster on Monday, giving him a spot in the Majors to start the season.
Boyer had been in camp on a minor league contract but really impressed the Twins’ coaching staff this spring, posting a 1.46 ERA over 12.1 innings with a very strong WHIP of 0.568.
Minnesota is now left with 28 players in Major League camp, meaning they still need to trim the roster by three before the regular season begins.