Gardenhire's Twins seek pitching help

Gardenhire's Twins seek pitching help

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Just how much uncertainty lies with the Twins rotation this offseason could be determined by one answer from manager Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday.

Gardenhire was asked what five starters would fill out the staff if he had to decide right now, and the skipper hesitated for a moment before answering.

"Next question," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "I don't even know the first three [starters] yet. Let me give you three, and then we'll go for the other two."

The Twins' unsettled starting staff was the main topic of conversation during Gardenhire's 20-minute interview session with the media Wednesday morning. From Twins general manager Terry Ryan's comments about the starting staff, it's clear that there are some holes to fill, and Gardenhire made sure to second that assessment.

The only sure things in the Twins' rotation plans, according to Gardenhire, are Johan Santana, Boof Bonser and Carlos Silva. The other two spots appear to be open to competition between Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins. That is, if the Twins cannot add another arm before the start of Spring Training.

The Twins certainly have been looking for that arm, but the lone name that has surfaced publicly as an interest for the Twins is right-hander Jason Jennings of the Rockies. But trade talks between Colorado and the list of clubs interested in Jennings have stalled, leaving few options for the Twins in this highly competitive market.

Ryan said that the club has its eye on about a half-dozen pitchers that club officials feel would be a good fit for the club. But with the Twins' limited budget and the high demand for starters around the league, it could be that the team is left out in the cold.

It's that scenario that had Gardenhire talking of how he might have to get creative in his options, and that includes how he uses some of the pitchers already on his roster. Matt Guerrier doesn't appear to be a consideration for a starting role, but Gardenhire mentioned Dennys Reyes as an option if the team gets down to very few arms available for the role.

"We don't want to mess with Reyes," Gardenhire said. "But you always start looking and thinking about all your possibilities, especially because starting pitching is a commodity right now that everybody is looking for."

The search for another starter has been a quiet one so far but that hasn't discouraged Gardenhire, as he knows that silence during this event is an annual occurrence for the Twins. The skipper hopes that Ryan can get something done before the start of Spring Training.

"I'm very confident," Gardenhire said of the possibility of obtaining an additional starter. "Another veteran would be nice, and then you're looking at one slot for one of those young pitchers. Right now, we're just looking to see what we can find."

Much ado about nothing: The official retirement announcement has yet to come from Brad Radke, so many have been speculating about a possible return by the veteran.

But that seems to be a lot of wishful thinking by others.

An story published after Gardenhire's media session Wednesday indicted that the Twins are trying to talk Radke into returning. It was more a situation where too much was read into a quote from the Twins manager.

"We've all said to him, 'One more year,'" Gardenhire said. "Brad has pretty much done what he had to do in the game, I think. And until he makes his official announcement in front of you guys, we still have options with him. We are still talking, but it doesn't look very good, let's put it that way."

Gardenhire and his staff indicated all year long they would love for Radke to return, but in no way are the Twins actively trying to push Radke into returning. Rather, they're letting him take time to announce his decision.

While Gardenhire is leaving open the possibility for a change of heart from Radke, there seems no doubt from anyone in the organization that the veteran pitcher will make his retirement official before the end of the year.

Simply starting: The Twins' list of desires this offseason includes a second left-hander to have in their already talent-laden bullpen and relieve Reyes of some of the workload. One player that has already been ruled out as an option for that spot is Glen Perkins.

Perkins spent a bit of time in the Minnesota bullpen during his callup at the end of the season, but that wasn't a glimpse of the future. The Stillwater, Minn., native is expected to compete for a starting role, but while Francisco Liriano used a bullpen spot to transition into the Majors, Gardenhire doesn't envision the same for Perkins.

As to how the Twins will fill the void in the bullpen, Ryan said the club could either find the answer in the farm system or look to signing some players to Minor League contracts to compete for the spot during Spring Training.

"I think we'll be alright there," Ryan said. "Somehow we'll find that and piece that together."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.