FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- The City of Palms became Panic City when five more cuts to the Twins roster were announced Sunday at Minnesota's spring training complex.
Two pitchers (Jack Cressand and Benj Sampson), two infielders (Doug Mientkiewicz and Brian Richardson) and one catcher (Chad Moeller) were cut from the major league roster, leaving 37 players in camp. Richardson was reassigned to minor league camp, while the other four were optioned to AAA Salt Lake.
''We probably got the attention of some of the players still here when they saw a few of the fellas leave,'' Twins manager Tom Kelly said. ''Now we have total panic, as you saw when there were like 18 guys in the hitting cage (after Sunday's rain-shortened 3-2 loss to Toronto). I guess that's the way we have to do it to get their attention.
''We're not going to put up with some of the things we put up with last year, and we need to give the people of Minneapolis-St. Paul a better product than we gave them last year.''
Most notable among the players optioned to Salt Lake was first baseman Mientkiewicz. The 25-year-old Miami resident hit .368 in 10 spring games. But coming off a 1999 season in which he hit just .229 with two home runs and 32 RBI, Kelly decided he'd be better suited improving his game in the minors.
''In fairness to Doug, I should have sent him down last year when Mr. Ryan (general manager Terry Ryan) wanted to do so in the summer,'' Kelly said. ''But I fought Terry on that and insisted that he stay up in the major leagues because I thought he could handle it. That's a decision I made and it turned out to be wrong, but hindsight's always good.''
Third baseman Corey Koskie said he was a little shocked by the decision to send Mientkiewicz to the minors.
''It does send a message to the rest of us,'' Koskie said.
Mientkiewicz's departure leaves David Ortiz, Ron Coomer, Butch Huskey and Mario Valdez to battle it out for the starting job at first base. Kelly places a lot of importance on that position from a hitting standpoint, as well as on third base.
''You like your first baseman, your third baseman and your outfielders to generate some runs,'' Kelly said. ''Your middle infielders and your catchers can get by with hitting .220 because of the other things they do in the field.
Kelly didn't see much of Sunday's exhibition game because he was down the street watching Matt Lawton take some at-bats on one of the back fields. He intends on doing the same thing with Coomer on Monday while the Twins face the Boston Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.
''We did some special work with (Lawton) to try to get him going because he's having an awful time right now,'' Kelly said. ''We rearranged his batting stance some and rearranged some thoughts he had on hitting to try to give him some different ideas.
Kelly put the team through an extended pre-game workout, focusing on defensive drills with the infield. He said they needed to get back to consistent workouts on fundamentals after seeing more errors being committed over the last seven games.
''We've become very sloppy and we need to re-establish some continuity and some consistency in play,'' Kelly said. ''Until we get some more maturity and a better understanding of what needs to be done, we're going to have to continue a very rigorous work program, and that's what we're going to do.''
Between the intensified practices and the roster moves, most of the players seem to be getting the message.
''It works,'' Koskie said. ''You knew it was coming."
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