FORT MYERS, Fla -- Justin Morneau, who missed the final three games of Spring Training because of stiffness in his back, took "four or five at-bats" on a practice field under the watchful eye of Twins general manager Terry Ryan Saturday morning and was pronounced ready for Opening Day.
"He's fine," Ryan said. "He just did that to make sure. I watched him swing and he didn't have any problems."
Morneau was not in the lineup Saturday, and with the temperature in Minneapolis expected to hover around the freezing mark on Monday, Morneau's stiff back was cause for some concern.
"It'll be colder than all get-out up there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That concerns me a little bit."
A healthy Morneau is critical to the Twins' chances in the season ahead.
"His concussions and all that he had experienced is not an issue at all," Ryan said.
"He's had plenty of at-bats, he's played in the World [Baseball Classic] games," Gardenhire said. "He's done it all this spring."
Morneau played in 15 games this spring, hitting .267 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
De Vries' arm fine, slated to start next Saturday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It turns out the tightness in Twins right-hander Cole De Vries' right forearm was nothing to worry about. The 28-year-old right-hander from Eden Prairie, Minn., will start next Saturday against the Orioles as scheduled.
"He'll be fine," general manager Terry Ryan said Saturday. "He's not going to miss anything. After talking to the trainers, I wasn't too worried. [Taking him out of the game after three innings on Friday] was just precautionary. He'll throw his ordinary bullpen session, probably on Monday."
Ryan said, because of his extra rest, it's possible De Vries could be used out of the bullpen early in the week.
Ryan also confirmed that Liam Hendriks "has been penciled for Friday," giving the Twins a rotation of Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Hendriks and De Vries, in that order.
Hendriks remained in Florida when the Twins broke camp on Saturday and will pitch in a Minor League Spring Training game Sunday. If all goes well, he will rejoin the team on Monday.
Working on slider, Pelfrey happy to enter year healthy
FORT MYERS, Fla -- Mike Pelfrey took the mound determined to work on his slider Saturday afternoon.
"That," the Twins right-hander said after a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, "was probably my downfall."
Pelfrey was lifted after 3 2/3 innings, having allowed four runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and no walks. He threw 79 pitches, 48 of them strikes.
"I wanted to work on my slider; I get beat on that a lot," he said. "That's my fourth-best pitch. And I gave up four or five hits on my slider today. That's probably why it is my fourth-best pitch."
"He got his innings in, let's just put it that way," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His pace was nowhere. He was working on some things, so you've got to give him that. But as the season goes on, he's got to get a pace.
"He's a work in progress, let's put it that way."
Nevertheless, Pelfrey, who will make his regular-season Twins debut on Thursday against the Tigers, leaves Spring Training with a smile on his face.
"My goal was to go into the season healthy and I did that," he said. "I thought my command was pretty good [today]. I think I only walked one guy in my last three outings. Hopefully, as the season goes on, I'll get a little stronger and my velocity will come back."
As for the Twins' chances this season, Pelfrey believes that "it all comes down to the starting pitchers."
"This team can put up runs with anybody," Pelfrey said. "And the bullpen is rock solid. It's up to the starters to keep us in the game.
"We have a lot of doubters," he added. "But it's all about what we believe in the clubhouse."
Ryan reflects on spring, eager for season to begin
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Terry Ryan admitted the Twins' sudden rash of minor last-minute physical woes was "not the ideal scenario leaving Spring Training." However, it appears likely "they will all be ready for Monday -- that's the important thing," the GM added, in assessing the club's spring.
"We're ready and set," he added. "Let's get up there and get going."
"With all the comings and going, the World Baseball Classic, and the new faces we have, the weather was the only disappointment," Ryan said, referring to the unusually chilly temperatures in Florida this spring.
"We've had some pleasant surprises," continued Ryan, who singled out Brian Dozier and Wilkin Ramirez. "There's a handful of those guys here. And we haven't had too many disappointments. We've got a lot more depth. And we stayed relatively healthy.
"Of course, how you leave here doesn't necessarily mean much. I think we left last year's camp with a healthy rotation, and then everything fell apart."
• The Twins were hoping they would be able to hang on to Alex Burnett when they placed him on waivers. As much as they needed the spot on their 40-man roster that opened up when Burnett was claimed by the Blue Jays, they hated to see him go.
"We like Burnie an awful lot," Gardenhire said. "We like his arm. He didn't have a good spring, misfiring a little bit. He had a couple good outings here toward the end, and you hate to lose a good arm like that. A really good guy. A class act. We are going to miss him."
Burnett's departure clears the way for the Twins to add Wilkin Ramirez to the Major League roster, which they will do on Sunday. Burnett posted a 7.56 ERA this spring.
• The Twins have three pitchers on the disabled list: Tim Wood (rotator cuff), Scott Diamond (elbow) and Anthony Swarzak (ribs). In addition, Rich Harden and Rafael Perez, who are recovering from surgery, were assigned to Minor League camp.
"We've got some people who are going to be ready, sooner rather than later," Ryan said.
• The Twins drew 113,845 fans to 17 home games at Hammond Field this spring, marking the 12th consecutive spring in which they have surpassed 100,000. They had three sellouts and set a single-game attendance record of 8,366 on March 22 against the Yankees.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.