Twins plotting course after clinching Wild Card

Molitor looks to rest regulars ahead of Tuesday's game as he mulls roster

Twins plotting course after clinching Wild Card

CLEVELAND -- With the Twins having clinched their spot in Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game, manager Paul Molitor is plotting out how he'll use his roster in the final weekend of the season while also discussing with the front office what his postseason roster will look like.

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Molitor rested most of his starters in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Tribe at Progressive Field, except for shortstop Jorge Polanco, right fielder Max Kepler, catcher Jason Castro and designated hitter Robbie Grossman. He said he'll continue to find ways to get his regulars rested for Tuesday, and the club is also plotting out its rotation for its upcoming series against the Tigers. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start the series opener on Friday, but the Twins are still unsure if Jose Berrios will start Saturday or if Bartolo Colon will start Sunday.

"I tried to stay away from doing too much planning because I didn't want to assume anything," Molitor said. "We want to give some of these guys a little bit of a break, but also keep them sharp. It's a little tricky. We'll have further conversations about pitching over the next four days as we might best set ourselves up for a roster on Tuesday."

Now Molitor must decide whether to go with 10 pitchers and 15 positions players or 11 pitchers and 14 position players for the Wild Card Game. He must also choose which starting pitchers will be available to back up starter Ervin Santana in the game and formulate what the bullpen will look like.

"We're not there yet," Molitor said. "We've had discussions, but we were cautious about going too far with them. Now we can get more extensive and finish it off here. Even if we have to wait another day, it wouldn't be the worst thing. I feel better about those conversations now."

If the Twins carry 15 position players, it means every healthy player on the roster will be active for the game. There's still a small chance Miguel Sano could be available for a late pinch-hitting role, as he's hitting on the field for a second straight day on Thursday. But he has yet to see live pitching since sustaining a stress reaction to his left shin on Aug. 18.

"You can do the math, and we only have six extra position players now," Molitor said. "So if I took everybody, in addition to the Sano longshot, you're still looking at 10 spots for pitchers. You can do 11 and 14, or 10 and 15, and those are the final things we need to iron out."

Sano took 60 swings on Wednesday, which was his first day hitting in more than a week, and followed that up by hitting on the field at Target Field again on Thursday. He still has to see pitching in a simulated game at Target Field before possibly returning for the postseason, but there's a chance that could happen this weekend.

"We've been following this story for quite a while," Molitor said. "There are times we've been more optimistic than others. He had a good day yesterday, but it was the first one we'd heard about it in a while. Window is pretty small to get him ready to face this caliber of pitching after missing six weeks or so."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.