FORT MYERS — The Minnesota Twins trimmed their roster down Saturday morning in preparation for Tuesday's opener at Toronto, sending two players to the minors.
Both infielder Terry Tiffee and outfielder Jason Tyner couldn't dodge a demotion, despite having strong springs. Tyner, who was reassigned to minor-league camp, hit .395 in 43 at-bats, while Tiffee, optioned to Triple-A Rochester, hit .333 in 57 at-bats with a home run and 10 RBIs.
With outfielder Ruben Sierra likely missing the start of the season with a leg injury, the Twins will break camp with rookie Jason Kubel on the roster. Kubel missed all of 2005 with a knee injury.
But one player who didn't have to wait to hear any good news was right-hander Scott Baker, who was told earlier this week he had earned a spot in the Twins' five-man starting rotation.
Baker, who lives in Cape Coral but is selling his home to be closer to his family in Shreveport, La., will start today's game against Rochester.
Proceeds from the 1:05 p.m. game at Hammond Stadium will benefit several Southwest Florida charities.
Baker is scheduled to make his 2006 debut — he went 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA in nine starts last season for the Twins — on April 8 at Cleveland.
SPRING TRAINING - 2007
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"I knew regardless of how I did last year, I was going to have to compete for a position," said Baker, a 2004 starter for the Fort Myers Miracle. "They're not giving positions away. I came to spring training with that mentality, and everything worked out."
In six spring starts, Baker threw 23 innings, second on the club to Kyle Lohse, allowing 21 hits with a 3.53 ERA.
"I was going to take each day (this spring) like I was part of the staff," Baker said. "If it didn't work out, it didn't work out. Thankfully, it did."
Baker said his big-league debut last May at Tampa Bay — one inning of scoreless relief — made all the hard work, even in a quick three-year rise through the organization, well worth it.
"It's everything you think it's going to be and more," he said. "It's something that you work for your whole career. You don't play in the minor leagues for the fun of it, you play to get to the big leagues."
TWIN BILLS: Today's exhibition against Rochester is the final game in Lee County this spring. Tickets still remain for the game, and tickets are at a $5 discount from normal spring prices. ... Minnesota finished the spring 19-13, winning six straight. The Twins defeated Pittsburgh 8-2 on Saturday. Kyle Lohse improved to 5-0. ... Right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who had missed most of the last two weeks with an oblique strain, hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning Saturday off Ian Snell. ... Left-hander Darrell May, who Minnesota released last week, signed a minor-league deal Saturday with Cincinnati.