"We're trying not to put numbers on them right now," Gardenhire said after the Twins' 4-2 win over the team's Opening Day opponent, the Orioles. "We're trying to find all the starters and then see how that plays out as we go along."
Gardenhire has also been tentative in labeling any pitchers as locks this spring other than the team's ace Johan Santana. But right now it appears that the pitchers likely joining Santana in that rotation are Ortiz, Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser. The fifth spot remains more of a mystery with plenty of competition taking place.
Out of the three pitchers that have been virtually penciled in as starters behind Santana, it's been Ortiz that has emerged as one of the steadiest for the club.
Ortiz pitched four innings, allowing two unearned runs as he walked one and struck out four. It appeared that the veteran pitcher would have been able to get out of his start without any runs if it wasn't for an inexperienced middle infield playing behind him in shortstop Alexi Casilla and second baseman Tommy Watkins. Both infielders made errors in the first which extended the inning and allowed the runs to score.
Once the trouble ceased, Ortiz retired 10 straight batters to complete his outing and looked very at ease during his stint on the mound -- much like he has all spring. All in all, Ortiz said this has likely been the best spring of his seven-year Major League career
And though others might be concerned about where Ortiz falls in the rotation along with the other arms, the pitcher himself isn't wasting much time thinking about it.
"I don't think about what my position is in the rotation right now," Ortiz said. "I just want to keep pitching like I am right now. That's the only thing I can do. For me it don't matter. My day is the day the manager gives me the ball to pitch."
Wait and See:
Rondell White sat by his locker with an ace bandage wrapped around his left knee Thursday morning.
Just a few hours before, White took a pitch from Yankees left-hander Chase Wright to that knee during at at-bat in the team's night game at Tampa.
The morning after getting hit by the pitch, White was able to walk around, though he was a bit slow. He said that the knee was pretty sore but he planned on taking some swings in the cage Thursday. The expectation is that he will be able to return to the lineup within a day or two.
"It's nothing serious," White said. "I'll be all right. Just have to put a little Robitussin on it (laughs)."
Any questions that remained regarding the Twins starting lineup were answered on Thursday as the team's starting designated hitter spot was officially assigned.
Gardenhire said that he likes what he's seen so far out of Jason Kubel and Jeff Cirillo at the plate. With the left-handed Kubel and the right-handed Cirillo, Gardenhire feels that he's got the makings of a platoon of sorts for the spot.
"I think I've got a good left-right combo there," Gardenhire said.
The two players will also factor into the bench situation as Gardenhire said he will use Cirillo to back up the corner infield spots as well as possibly playing the middle spots if needed. Kubel will also continue to be used as a backup outfielder where he can play either left or right.
Michael Cuddyer has made a habit of delivering strong springs. And this one hasn't been any different.
Cuddyer continued his hot hitting this spring when he belted a solo homer in the fourth inning Thursday. It was the second homer of the spring for Cuddyer and the 1-for-3 performance brought his overall batting average to .394. Last year Cuddyer hit .500 for the spring and has delivered many spring averages above the .300 mark in his career.
So what's the secret when it comes to hitting so well in spring?
"I don't know," Cuddyer said with a laugh. "I don't do anything different. Maybe it's because the pitchers throw more fastballs."
No matter what the reason for consistently good springs, there is one thing that Cuddyer wants to see change and that's how he carries it into April. With a .219 career average in the month of April, Cuddyer just hopes that he can carry this year's success into the first month of the season.
Outfielder/first baseman Garrett Jones has struggled at the plate this spring, hitting just .088 (3-for-34), but it was Jones that delivered the game-winning, two-RBI double in the eighth inning of Thursday's game. Gardenhire said that he hopes it will help spark Jones' confidence. ... Closer Joe Nathan recorded three strikeouts in one inning in a Minor League game across the parking lot Thursday. Jesse Crain also threw in the game, going one inning with two hits, a strikeout and a pick-off. ... The Twins made two more roster cuts on Thursday as they optioned right-hander Julio DePaula to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned right-hander Tristan Crawford to Minor League camp. The Twins now have 47 players (13 non-roster) in camp -- 22 pitchers, 12 infielders and eight outfielders.
The Twins and Orioles will meet up again on Friday, this time in a 12:05 p.m. CT start in Fort Lauderdale. Twins right-hander Sidney Ponson will face his former team, as Baltimore sends right-hander Steve Trachsel to the mound.