FORT MYERS, Fla. -- At some point it's going to be tough for the Twins to keep right-handed reliever Anthony Slama in the Minor Leagues.
After all, Slama has a career 1.99 ERA with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in the Minors, including a 1.24 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester last season.
He would have been a candidate to be called up last season but suffered a broken fibula on a comebacker in early June and missed eight weeks before returning to Rochester late in the season.
It was an unfortunate setback, but he's back in big league camp this spring after being in Minor League camp last year. And so now he is out to prove that his Minor League numbers are no fluke.
"Whenever they throw me out there, I'm just going to pitch my game," said Slama, who posted a 3.68 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 22 innings in the Mexican winter league this offseason. "You can't think about who is pitching ahead of you or behind you or who you're in competition with. You just have to throw your game and not worry about that stuff."
Slama is on the list of those traveling to Sarasota for the Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles on Saturday, but he could also pitch on Sunday against the Rays at Hammond Stadium if he doesn't get a chance to pitch in the first game.
Slama is competing for a spot in the bullpen but isn't on the 40-man roster. It could come down to a numbers game in the bullpen, especially considering that three relievers fighting for spots -- Anthony Swarzak, Tim Wood and Josh Roenicke -- are out of Minor League options.
Hendriks excited about Sunday start vs. Rays
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Liam Hendriks, who is battling for a spot in the rotation, is excited about the opportunity to start the Hammond Stadium opener on Sunday, against the Rays.
Hendriks had a bone chip removed from his elbow in November but said that he's fully healthy and looking forward to progressing to pitching in games after throwing batting practice this week.
"It's pretty cool," Hendriks said. "When I was here last year, I relieved, like, the first three or four outings, so it's cool to get that start and get into my routine. It's going to be fun."
Hendriks fared well in Spring Training last year, posting a 2.84 ERA in eight games, including four starts. He made the rotation out of camp but missed his first start due to a bout with food poisoning.
He ended up struggling, though, with a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts despite success at Triple-A Rochester, where he recorded a 2.20 ERA in 16 outings. He's ready to move on and wants to see if his improved mechanics will translate in his first start.
"It feels good to actually get in there and throw against guys I haven't seen in a while," he said. "It's kind of a different feeling than live BP. It's game situations, so it'll be good. I'm excited for it and ready to see how everything is going."
After Hendriks, other pitchers scheduled to throw are closer Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Kyle Gibson, Bryan Augenstein, Luis Perdomo, Anthony Slama and Deolis Guerra. Augenstein, Perdomo and Slama are also making the trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Saturday, so if they pitch in the Grapefruit League opener, they won't pitch on Sunday.
Guerra to play for Venezuela in Classic
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Deolis Guerra was a late addition to Team Venezuela and will participate in the World Baseball Classic.
Guerra was informed by Venezuela manager Luis Sojo, who was also his manager in the Venezuelan winter league. Guerra pitched well for Navegantes del Magallanes, posting a 3.81 ERA with 31 strikeouts and five walks in 26 innings to help lead the club to the title.
"I'm pretty excited," Guerra said. "It'll be the first time I'll be representing my country in a tournament like that. So I'm happy about it."
Guerra, acquired by the Twins in 2008 in the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets, has reinvented himself as a reliever after beginning his career as a starter.
He had a 4.11 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 70 innings split between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester last season. He's not on the 40-man roster but could make his Major League debut at some point this season if he continues to build on last year.
"It's been pretty good," Guerra said of making the switch to the bullpen in '11. "It's been a little different. But the thing that is helping me out is that I have to be ready every day and focused on the game. I think that's getting me more into the game, which is helping me a lot."
Guerra is scheduled to leave camp on March 3, as Venezuela is scheduled to play an exhibition game on March 4 in Jupiter, Fla.
Guerra is one of 13 Twins players who will be away from camp to participate in the Classic. Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins (USA), Justin Morneau (Canada) and Drew Butera (Italy) are the only four on the 40-man roster.
Other Twins players scheduled to play in the Classic are James Beresford (Australia), Andrew Albers (Canada), Samuel Deduno (Dominican Republic), Chris Colabello (Italy), Shairon Martis and Tom Stuifbergen (Netherlands), and Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico).