FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Twins' general manager Terry Ryan said he was encouraged that so many players had arrived at spring training several days before the team's first mandatory full-team workout.
''We've got so many spots open for competition,'' Ryan said Wednesday. ''A lot of young players are trying to make their mark.''
Veterans set a good precedent by arriving before they were required during the team's winning years in the mid-1980s and early '90s, when the franchise won two World Series, Ryan said.
''Ever since (Kent) Hrbek, (Gary) Gaetti, (Bert) Blyleven and (Kirby) Puckett and those guys in the '80s set the tone for this organization, we've always had a good early turnout in the spring,'' Ryan said.
Ryan also said that ''95 percent'' of the players in camp had kept themselves in good physical shape over the winter. With shortstop Luis Rivas' arrival Wednesday, all but four of the 56 players invited to spring training had arrived to prepare for Saturday's workout.
Pitchers and catchers began drills on Monday.
Among them is right-hander Scott Bergman, who was hammered when he started against the Twins last year as a member of the Houston Astros. Minnesota won that day, 13-6.
''It was just a bad game,'' Bergman said. ''I try not to think about it.''
The Twins think Bergman -- released by the Astros and Braves last season -- has potential. They claimed him off waivers in October after he was released by the Braves, and he has a chance to make the starting rotation.
''I just want a chance to start every five days and give this team a chance to win every five days,'' Bergman said. ''I'm looking forward to playing with this team.''
Bergman was 5-6 last season with a 5.21 ERA with Houston and Atlanta.
On Wednesday, coaches continued to take a close look at the seven catching candidates vying to replace the retired Terry Steinbach.
Only three of the seven have big-league experience -- Javier Valentin, Marcus Jensen and A.J. Pierzynski -- prompting manager Tom Kelly to call the catching situation ''a major concern.''
Valentin is the likely starter and received kudos from pitcher Eric Milton.
''He blocks balls well. He's very quick behind the plate,'' Milton said. ''I feel confident with him back there.''
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