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Spring rotation set, Phil Hughes to start Twins opener Wednesday

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Twins right-handeder Phil Hughes will start Minnesota 's Grapefruit League opener Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park.

Manager Paul Molitor announced the Twins' pitching rotation Sunday.

Fellow right-hander Trevor May, who will be stretched out as a starter, will piggyback with Hughes Wednesday. Right-hander Tyler Duffey will pitch on Thursday night in the home opener at Hammond Stadium, followed by right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Lefty Tommy Milone gets the start on Friday, while Ervin Santana will take the mound on Saturday against Baltimore. Top prospect Jose Berrios is also slated to see action on Saturday and Kyle Gibson will get the start on Sunday against the Rays.

April 4 is still a long way off, but if the Twins stay on the same schedule Santana would get the nod on Opening Day in Baltimore and Gibson would start the Target Field opener against the White Sox April 11.

Hughes, Santana and Gibson are locks for the Twins' starting rotation. The last two spots are up for grabs between Milone, May, Duffey, Nolasco and Berrios.

While none of those pitchers is thought to be a frontline starter, the group is largely the same as it was last season and the Twins rotation finished 2015 ranked 8th in the American League in ERA (4.14), 9th in xFIP (4.18) and 7th in WAR (12.0) – all right around average in the American League.

The blog The Curse of Punto points to those numbers and the promise of nearly full seasons for Duffey and Berrios as reasons the Twins rotation may fare a little better than most expect.

"Other than the loss of Pelfrey (which may end up being addition by subtraction), the Twins go into 2016 sporting essentially the same rotation that ended 2015, but with two potentially game-changing caveats. The first is the eventual arrival of top pitching prospect Jose Berrios, presumably sometime in late April or May. The second is the full year of service they're likely to get out of Santana and Duffey."

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