Health the biggest question for new Twins pitcher DeSclafani

FORT MYERS, FLA. — When Anthony DeSclafani is healthy, he's shown during his nine-year career he can be an effective option for the starting rotation.

Health is the big qualifier.

DeSclafani earned himself a three-year, $36 million contract in free agency following his last full season. He posted a 13-7 record and a 3.17 ERA in 31 starts with the San Francisco Giants in 2021. Since then, he was limited to five starts in 2022 because of ankle issues and he was sidelined for the final two months last year because of a right elbow flexor strain.

"Injuries are frustrating no matter what it is," said DeSclafani, who had a 4-8 record and a 4.88 ERA in 99⅔ innings last season. "In 2021, I had a really good year, and I was looking forward to building off that, and I was just never able to really do that."

DeSclafani is hopeful he can manage his injury issues. He had platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections last year to treat his flexor strain, and he's been throwing since early October.

Entering camp, DeSclafani is vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, a competition that includes Louie Varland. DeSclafani was pleased with the way he rebounded from his 2022 ankle surgery, recording a 3.89 ERA in his first 13 starts last season, before his season "snowballed" from the flexor strain.

DeSclafani, who will turn 34 in April, has excelled throughout his career at limiting walks. Primarily throwing cutters and sinkers, he's working on developing a better swing-and-miss pitch.

"That's something I'm in desperate need of, so I'm trying to figure that out," DeSclafani said. "If I can do that, I think it'll be a lot of fun."

DeSclafani was traded twice this winter. The Giants sent him to the Seattle Mariners on Jan. 5 to help even out salaries when San Francisco acquired pitcher Robbie Ray. Lined up as a sixth starter/long relief role with the Mariners, he was included in the Jorge Polanco trade, getting him to Minnesota.

"A long, long history as a Mariner," DeSclafani deadpanned, adding he met reliever Justin Topa, who was included in his trade, in the complex parking lot Tuesday. "After my first year of pro ball, after getting drafted by the Blue Jays, I got traded. I got traded a couple of times. I'm used to bouncing around."

Injury updates

Righthanded reliever Josh Winder will not be ready for the start of spring training games after he was diagnosed with a right scapula stress fracture last October. Winder is playing catch up to 90 feet, but he was told to rest his arm for most of the offseason.

"Just some buildup from the whole season," said Winder, who threw 70 innings last season between the Twins and the minors. "Threw a bunch last year and it just started barking toward the end of the year."

Lefthanded reliever Jovani Moran was brought to camp as a non-roster invitee, but he's expected to miss the entire season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in late November.

First baseman Jose Miranda, recovering from an offseason shoulder procedure, might be limited defensively at the beginning of camp.


• All 37 pitchers and catchers were in camp Wednesday, and many position players are working out at the complex ahead of Monday's first full-squad workout. That group includes Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Kyle Farmer and Brooks Lee.