Competing for No. 5 spot nothing new to Milone

Twins lefty delivers solid three-inning start against Phillies

Competing for No. 5 spot nothing new to Milone

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Tommy Milone is locked in a competition for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation, but he's doing his best to embrace it, as it's nothing new for him.

Milone, who confirmed he's out of Minor League options, said he's had a guaranteed spot in the rotation once in his six Spring Trainings with the Nationals, A's and Twins, and it came in 2013. He's currently battling Ricky Nolasco, Trevor May and Jose Berrios for that final spot, and the lefty had a strong showing on Wednesday, allowing one run over three innings in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies.

Milone also struck out three and gave up one hit, but it was a solo shot to catcher Cameron Rupp in the third inning. Otherwise, he was solid and came away pleased with his outing.

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"I'm feeling real good, especially after today," Milone said. "The first outing I didn't feel as strong, but today I felt good. I was able to throw the ball over the plate where I wanted to and mix in offspeed and keep it low. It felt good."

Milone knows his chief competition is Nolasco, as May is more likely to head to the bullpen and Berrios is a top prospect likely to open the year at Triple-A Rochester. But Milone, who had a 3.92 ERA in 24 outings with the Twins last year, said he's not shying away from the competition after Nolasco tossed three scoreless frames against the Cardinals on Tuesday.

"Competition always brings the best out of everybody," Milone said. "But if it's either him or me, we both have to go out there and do our job to have that spot. Once you step between those lines, it means business. Whether you have a spot locked up or you're fighting for it, you always want to do your best. We're all competitors and we want to get outs."

Twins manager Paul Molitor liked what he saw from Milone, who has a 3.60 ERA in five innings early in camp. But it's too early for the Twins to make a decision on who will be the club's fifth starter.

"I thought Tommy threw the ball well," Molitor said. "A lot of these guys are working on how they can make their offspeed better. His changeup was good and a couple nice curveballs."

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.