Notes: Ortiz could be No. 2 starter
Veteran right-hander has strong finish to latest outing
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are starting to get a better feel as to which pitchers might be in their starting rotation with just a little over two weeks remaining in Spring Training.But as for labeling the order of those pitchers, that's still anyone's guess. After another strong start Thursday by right-hander Ramon Ortiz, who has yet to deliver a rough start this spring, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hesitated at the idea of anointing him the team's No. 2 starter. "We're trying not to put numbers on them right now," Gardenhire said after the Twins' 4-2 win over the team's Opening Day opponent, the Orioles. "We're trying to find all the starters and then see how that plays out as we go along." Gardenhire has also been tentative in labeling any pitchers as locks this spring other than the team's ace Johan Santana. But right now it appears that the pitchers likely joining Santana in that rotation are Ortiz, Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser. The fifth spot remains more of a mystery with plenty of competition taking place. Out of the three pitchers that have been virtually penciled in as starters behind Santana, it's been Ortiz that has emerged as one of the steadiest for the club. Ortiz pitched four innings, allowing two unearned runs as he walked one and struck out four. It appeared that the veteran pitcher would have been able to get out of his start without any runs if it wasn't for an inexperienced middle infield playing behind him in shortstop Alexi Casilla and second baseman Tommy Watkins. Both infielders made errors in the first which extended the inning and allowed the runs to score. Once the trouble ceased, Ortiz retired 10 straight batters to complete his outing and looked very at ease during his stint on the mound -- much like he has all spring. All in all, Ortiz said this has likely been the best spring of his seven-year Major League career And though others might be concerned about where Ortiz falls in the rotation along with the other arms, the pitcher himself isn't wasting much time thinking about it. "I don't think about what my position is in the rotation right now," Ortiz said. "I just want to keep pitching like I am right now. That's the only thing I can do. For me it don't matter. My day is the day the manager gives me the ball to pitch." Wait and See: Rondell White sat by his locker with an ace bandage wrapped around his left knee Thursday morning. Just a few hours before, White took a pitch from Yankees left-hander Chase Wright to that knee during at at-bat in the team's night game at Tampa. The morning after getting hit by the pitch, White was able to walk around, though he was a bit slow. He said that the knee was pretty sore but he planned on taking some swings in the cage Thursday. The expectation is that he will be able to return to the lineup within a day or two. "It's nothing serious," White said. "I'll be all right. Just have to put a little Robitussin on it (laughs)." Settled lineup: Any questions that remained regarding the Twins starting lineup were answered on Thursday as the team's starting designated hitter spot was officially assigned. Gardenhire said that he likes what he's seen so far out of Jason Kubel and Jeff Cirillo at the plate. With the left-handed Kubel and the right-handed Cirillo, Gardenhire feels that he's got the makings of a platoon of sorts for the spot. "I think I've got a good left-right combo there," Gardenhire said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.