Time not on Pinto's side as season approaches

Short on preparation, Twins catcher not cleared to play due to concussion-like symptoms

Time not on Pinto's side as season approaches

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor said time is starting to run out on catcher Josmil Pinto, who has yet to be cleared by Major League Baseball to return to action after suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

Pinto, who suffered the injury when he was hit on the head from Baltimore's Adam Jones' follow-through three times on March 21, didn't pass a concussion test on Friday, but the Twins were hopeful he'd pass his second test on Sunday and return to action in a Minor League game on Monday. But even if all goes well, Molitor said he's not sure if Pinto will have enough time to get ready for the start of the season, with Opening Day on April 6 in Detroit.

"It's getting tougher," Molitor said. "There hasn't been a lot of playing time for that young man. So we're going to have to make that decision whether he's ready to get out there if he gets cleared and how much work he's going to handle in the short-term. He hasn't played much."

Pinto, 26, has played in just seven Grapefruit League games, hitting .353/.389/.412 in 18 plate appearances. He was the favorite to be Kurt Suzuki's backup entering the spring, but he also missed time with a quad strain early in spring. It now could come down to Chris Herrmann or non-roster invitee Eric Fryer.

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"Chris has put in a lot of time with Joe [Vavra, bench coach] back there to try to tighten up things, particularly receiving and exchanging on throws," Molitor said. "We're trying to get him more engaged in the dugout about things like controlling the running game. And Eric has been good. I think he's a guy we have lot of confidence in as a catcher. So we're trying to weigh people's strengths and how they fit into that backup role."

Molitor, though, acknowledged it would be tougher for Fryer to make the team because he's not on the 40-man roster. The Twins have just one open spot on their 40-man roster, but two non-roster players are expected to make the club in outfielder Shane Robinson and reliever Blaine Boyer, so the roster situation is already tight.

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"It's obviously a potential factor we'll have to consider," Molitor said. "We are going to have to tinker with the roster with the way it is already."

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.