Molitor champions pitching before 1st workout

Optimistic about club health, Twins manager addresses pitchers, catchers before 'pen sessions

Molitor champions pitching before 1st workout

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins held their first official workouts for pitchers and catchers on Monday at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, as 15 of their 31 pitchers threw bullpen sessions under the watchful eye of pitching coach Neil Allen.

The day began with manager Paul Molitor addressing his players and stressing what he plans to emphasize this spring and this season. He said it was important to talk to the new additions about what to expect, but he said he'll wait until the rest of the squad reports before delivering his full message to the team.

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"This morning we chatted for a bit, welcoming people back, and spent a little time, probably more than I anticipated -- it wasn't so much as 'message' as it was clarifying information on some things that we do here and how we do them, so the new people and the young people got a feel before they got out there," Molitor said. "Took longer than I thought, but it kind of lays the foundation with what we're doing with our pitching.

"Let them know how we all understand that wherever it is we're trying to go, and I think we all know where that is, that the pitching will be the foundation, and those type of things."

After the meeting, the pitchers and catchers broke off into different groups with Glen Perkins, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, Dan Runzler and J.T. Chargois the first to throw bullpen sessions. Others who threw off the mound include Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco, Michael Tonkin, Aaron Thompson, Nick Burdi, Casey Fien, J.R. Graham, Buddy Boshers, Mike Strong and Yorman Landa.

The other pitchers mostly participated in pitchers' fielding practice drills, as they're all set to throw off a mound on Tuesday. Molitor was happy to report the Twins don't have any injury concerns heading into camp, outside of monitoring lefty reliever Mason Melotakis, who is coming off Tommy John surgery.

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"Kind of nice to get going today, obviously," Molitor said. "Coming into camp, we're in good shape health-wise. I think [general manager] Terry [Ryan] said something from yesterday about maybe the best year ever as far as coming into camp.

"It's kind of nice to start slowly. We have a progression of the work with the program we've set up, and it went pretty seamless today, I thought. We'll just kind of gradually increase our workload as we get closer to full-squad, and we'll go from there."

Worth noting

• Molitor said he's not ready to name an Opening Day starter. He said there's not a slam-dunk candidate, but that he has an idea of who it'll be. Right-hander Ervin Santana remains the favorite to get the nod in the season opener on April 4 in Baltimore.

• Former Twins reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who just retired after a 21-year career in the Majors, joined the club as a guest instructor. He's set to work with the club's relievers. Torii Hunter, who also retired this offseason after a 19-year career, is also going to serve as a guest instructor and arrives on Friday. Former Twins closer Rick Aguilera will be the final guest instructor and joins the club on March 10.

• Several position players are already working out ahead of their report date, including Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Byung Ho Park, Eduardo Escobar, Jorge Polanco, Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Engelb Vielma, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni.

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