Battle for final rotation spot heating up

Competition between Pelfrey and Milone expected to go to end of camp

Battle for final rotation spot heating up

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor has maintained throughout Spring Training that he wants the decision on the club's fifth starter to be a difficult one, and so far, he's been getting his wish.

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey turned in another solid outing on Wednesday against the Red Sox, while left-hander Tommy Milone has also pitched well this spring. Prospects Trevor May and Alex Meyer remain in the mix with May outperforming his counterpart so far.

"We hope it's tough because people are performing well," Molitor said. "Mike has had a good spring to this point and is scheduled to pitch again in Clearwater, Fla., [against Philadelphia] on the 23rd. And Milone has looked good and we'll see him [Saturday]. Meyer is a little behind on pitch count but has been fine, and May seems like he has a little more mound presence so far than he did last year. That's probably what that experience did to him."

Milone and Pelfrey remain the top two candidates for that final spot, and neither has turned in a subpar outing this spring. Milone has yet to give up a run in a five Grapefruit League innings, but did give up two runs in four innings in a Minor League game on Monday, while Pelfrey has allowed just one run in nine Grapefruit League innings for a 1.00 ERA. Milone and Pelfrey have the edge over May and Meyer because of their contract situations and because May and Meyer can be optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

With a split-squad on Wednesday, Molitor went on the road to watch Pelfrey against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., and came away impressed by the right-hander, who gave up one run over four innings.

"Mostly, his fastball is getting the groundballs he needs, but he's using his split-finger more and gaining confidence with that pitch, and mixing in his curveball, which he hasn't done for a while," Molitor said. "His pace was pretty good, and we're always looking for those little things like pace and holding runners, and he knows that's important."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.