"It was a tough call," general manager Terry Ryan said, "but we decided to go this way. Ricky pitched well this spring, and Duffey OK. It's just consistency. He's a young guy and had a wonderful taste of the big leagues last year, but we were looking for more consistency this spring. And sending a guy down isn't punishment, he just has to fine-tune it a little bit."
Abad, who needs to be added to the 40-man roster, joins Perkins as the only lefties. Perkins, Jepsen, May and Fien were locks, while Pressly was one of the better relievers in camp and Tonkin is out of Minor League options. O'Rourke had an impressive spring with a 1.35 ERA, while Darnell put himself in good position, as he's the only candidate to pitch in long relief. But Ryan said the Twins plan to stretch out Tonkin and Pressly to pitch multiple innings, if needed.
"We have guys we can count on who can go more than an inning," Ryan said. "Pressly can go more than two. We're going to stretch out Tonkin, and Abad can go a couple."
Duffey was considered a front-runner to be in the rotation after Twins manager Paul Molitor said early in camp it would take something "fairly significant" for him not be one of the club's five starters. But Duffey, who had a 3.10 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch as a rookie last year, posted a 7.30 ERA, including allowing four runs in four innings against the Pirates on Monday. The 33-year-old Nolasco, who is owed $25 million over the next two seasons, had a 4.05 ERA in four Grapefruit League outings.
"I didn't do myself a lot of favors," Duffey said. "I came in hearing about being the No. 4 starter and this and that. I worked on stuff and didn't get ready to go, and it showed the last two outings. I needed to execute and I didn't have that ready to go. So you can take whatever from that. But I've been through it now and know the ropes for next time."
Molitor said Duffey was disappointed but professional.
"We rode this thing as long as we could," Molitor said . "He knows he had a plan of what he wanted to work on this spring, but some of the other things weren't as consistent as we would've liked to have seen. So he's going to try to make sure he can get back on track early so if we need to dip down, he'll be ready. So it was hard, knowing his contributions in his 10 starts last year."
The rotation order will be Opening Day starter Ervin Santana, followed by Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone and Nolasco. It sets up Gibson to start the home opener against the White Sox on April 11.
The Twins already set their position players last week, as the four bench spots will be catcher John Ryan Murphy, outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and utility men Danny Santana and Eduardo Nunez.
Molitor also rolled out what is expected to be his Opening Day lineup and batting order in Tuesday's 6-2 rain-shortened victory against the Red Sox. The Twins' regular lineup is expected to be second baseman Brian Dozier as the leadoff hitter, followed by first baseman Joe Mauer, right fielder Miguel Sano, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, left fielder Eddie Rosario, designated hitter Byung Ho Park, shortstop Eduardo Escobar, catcher Kurt Suzuki and center fielder Byron Buxton.
"I feel real good about this roster," Ryan said. "We're in good shape. We've got a good sprinkling of young kids, guys in their mid-careers and veterans. Our pitching staff is mostly veterans. But if you look at the average age of this roster, we're real young."