PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Much of the attention since the Twins non-tendered Eddie Rosario has been on top prospect Alex Kirilloff — and rightfully so. When the 23-year-old Kirilloff, one of the game’s top prospects, joins the Twins will continue to be one of the most intriguing storylines this spring.

But before Kirilloff is anointed the team’s everyday left fielder, Jake Cave and Brent Rooker, both of whom started and contributed in the Twins’ 6-5 six-inning exhibition victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Charlotte Sports Park, would like a word.

Cave, who had an RBI double on Monday, has served as a backup outfielder for the Twins for the past few years, showing the ability to handle all three outfield positions while also adding a left-handed bat to the lineup. He has had extended periods of time of starting while filling in for either Rosario, Byron Buxton or Max Kepler, though he has never established himself as a starter.

“I believe I’m capable of starting in the big leagues. I’m confident in myself. I’ve given the same answer for the past three years to you guys, because I’ve never really had a solid for-sure position or knew what my spot on the roster was going to be,” Cave said. “I think I’ve played well, but there were things I’ve needed to do better.”

While it’s obviously something he’s thinking about, Cave isn’t dwelling being a starter as he tries to ready himself for whatever role is thrown at him.

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“I’m going out there every day as if I’m the starting left fielder. If the days comes around and I’m not, I’ll play whatever my position is,” Cave said. “… I believe that good players get to play. I believe if I’m good enough, then I will play. And if I’m not playing well enough, then I won’t.”

Rooker, who hit a home run out to right-center off a Tyler Glasnow 98-mph fastball in his first at-bat in a game since fracturing his forearm last September and added a sacrifice fly later in the game, has a solid case of his own. The team’s No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Rooker was hitting .316 with a .381 on-base percentage and .579 slugging percentage in seven games in 2020 before a pitch thrown by Cleveland’s Zach Plesac broke his forearm.

“I know in seven games that I didn’t prove anything to anybody else, but I know in those seven games I proved to myself how I felt, how confident I was, how comfortable I was in the box,” Rooker said. “I know that given the opportunity, I can take those results during those seven games and do it for a longer period of time.”

Time changes

The Twins have moved the game times for their mid-April series against Boston at Target Field, shifting the first three games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:40 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. The Thursday game will stay at 12:10 p.m. as scheduled.

With the change, only one of the Twins’ first 13 games will be played at night. The Twins’ first home game play at night will be against the Pirates on April 23. First pitch is 7:10 p.m.


The Twins’ game on Monday was shortened to six innings, a change manager Rocco Baldelli said was initiated by Rays manager Kevin Cash during the game. … Twins outfielder Kyle Garlick hit a two-run homer to clinch the win. Andrew Romine added a pair of hits.