FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Spring Training can now officially be deemed under way. Always the last club in the Majors to have its pitchers and catchers report, the Twins got their Spring Training started Sunday when players began arriving at the Lee County Sports Complex. The group's first workout is scheduled for Monday morning. Coming off a 96-win season in which the club made a remarkable run to capture a division title on the final day of the season, there is plenty of excitement to be found in Twins camp. Although that anticipation, really, is nothing new for the club.
"Every spring, no matter if you lost 95 games or won 95 games, it's a great time of year," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "You evaluate players, you get to see new faces and you renew your friendships. There isn't any better time for a baseball team than Spring Training." This year brings a little bit of a different Spring Training for the Twins, a club that is used to having a settled pitching staff. Normally, the team's first week of camp has drawn little attention. When the position players reported, the anticipation would build to see which of the team's new additions might bring the offense that had been lacking in previous seasons. Now, all that attention will be on the club's rotation, as almost all of the spots are up for grabs. Without Brad Radke, who retired, and Francisco Liriano, who's recovering from elbow surgery, to anchor the staff behind two-time Cy Young Award-winner Johan Santana, it will be a fierce competition to see who can help fill the voids. "That's a rarity for us in the last number of years," Ryan said of an unsettled staff. "Usually, it's things other than starting pitching. But we're not an organization that doesn't have concerns every time that we go to Spring Training. You have to have Spring Training for a reason, and sometimes you have to work things out." That process now begins as the club welcomes new faces, such as Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson, as well as some of the young arms now battling for their chance at a spot in the rotation. But the questions are not limited to the newcomers. Even one of the lone returnees, Carlos Silva, is a bit of a question mark. After struggling to an 11-15 record with a 5.94 ERA in '06, the hope is that Silva can return to the form he had in '05, when he went 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA. Boof Bonser is considered a virtual lock for the rotation after earning the No. 2 starting spot in the playoffs, and other young pitchers such as left-hander Glen Perkins and right-hander Matt Garza provide the team with some talented options. Scott Baker and top pitching prospect Kevin Slowey also will be in the mix.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.