Molitor not ready to tab Opening Day starter

Santana lined up for April 4, but Gibson stating case

Molitor not ready to tab Opening Day starter

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor indicated Sunday that he planned to announce the club's Opening Day starter Monday, but decided he's not quite ready to make the announcement.

All six of the club's rotation candidates have made four outings, reaching five innings or 75 pitches. Right-hander Kyle Gibson was the final one to reach that Monday, as he gave up one unearned run on three hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings in a 2-0 loss to the Pirates at Hammond Stadium.

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Right-hander Ervin Santana, who is Minnesota's most experienced starter with 11 seasons under his belt, remains lined up to start on Opening Day in Baltimore in two weeks on April 4. Gibson is in line to be the club's No. 2 starter, which would allow him to start the club's second game April 6 and the home opener on April 11 against the White Sox. But that could change, as Molitor isn't ready to anoint anyone for the regular-season opener.

"We're not going to make any announcements on that today," Molitor said. "We still have a few things to settle here before we make those announcements."

After his outing, Gibson sounded like he already knew where he'll be slotted in the rotation, but declined to say when he'll make his first start of the season.

Santana gets out of jam

"I don't know if the team has made an announcement, so I'm not sure if it's something I can really talk about," Gibson said. "I'll just throw whenever they send me out there."

Gibson, though, did say it would be an honor to start on either Opening Day or in the home opener. He's never started on Opening Day or in the Target Field opener in his three-year career.

"I'd be excited about either of them," Gibson said. "I'm just looking forward to whenever I'm going to pitch and whoever I'm going to face. This is kind of the time where not that Spring Training is getting old, but that everybody is getting ready to go. I think everybody in here feels the same and is ready to get to Baltimore and show what we've done and see if it pays off."

Gibson has pitched well this spring with a 2.31 ERA and was the club's most consistent starter throughout last season, posting a 3.84 ERA in a team-high 194 2/3 innings. He's been working on incorporating his curveball and changeup this spring, and feels he's getting close to being ready for the season.

"The thing I talked about after my last start was I was getting tired in like the third and fourth inning, but this time I felt good," Gibson said. "So the endurance is picking up a little bit. The body is feeling good. And the pitches I'm working with are where I want them to be."

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.