Ex-Cats

Ex-Cat Alex Meyer’s role with Twins — starter or bullpen — still up in the air

The Twins’Alex Meyer pitched during spring training on Feb. 25, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Twins’Alex Meyer pitched during spring training on Feb. 25, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla. Associated Press

The Minnesota Twins will consider five or six pitchers for the final two spots in their starting rotation this spring, and at least twice that many contenders for a couple of bullpen vacancies. Trevor May isn’t the only tall righthander wondering which competition he’ll be a part of.

So which roster-spot lottery do you plan to enter, Alex Meyer?

“I really don’t know. There are too many uncertainties right now,” the 26-year-old righthander said Sunday. “I have an open mind about everything. I just want to be the best pitcher I can be.”

The Twins wouldn’t mind that, either, since as recently as one year ago, Meyer was considered Minnesota’s top pitching prospect. But after he failed to make the major league roster last March, the former University of Kentucky star embarked on a roller-coaster season that has left his future, and his role, in doubt.

Meyer hasn’t started a game at any level since May 19, when his ERA at Class AAA Rochester ballooned to 7.07 and prompted the Twins to move him to the bullpen. He appeared in two major league games in June but gave up five runs and recorded only eight outs, then didn’t get another look in September.

“We still know how talented he is. Nobody here has given up on Alex or believes he can’t be a success in the big leagues,” Twins Manager Paul Molitor said. “There are a lot of things we have to sort out in camp, and Alex will be a part of that. I can’t say right now which way it’ll go, but if he pitches the way we’ve seen him before, it’s not hard to find a spot.”

That’s because Meyer possesses a fastball that can reach 98 mph, and the stamina to throw it for several innings. He’s a former first-round pick who was acquired for Denard Span three years ago, so the Twins aren’t likely to give up on him. But his 6-8 frame makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery, and his confidence sometimes wavers.

For now, Meyer is preparing for anything. After all, he said, being in a major league bullpen is better than being in a Class AAA rotation.

“I enjoyed relieving last year. Starting is what I’ve done my whole life, but mostly I just want to get back on the mound,” he said.

He’s training the same way he does every offseason, he said, except for taking time off in November to get married.

“I’m using the same throwing program. I haven’t been relieving long enough to know what to change,” Meyer said. “Obviously I wonder what they have in mind, but I’m just looking forward to turning the page.”

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