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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published February 11 2013

Pitching help for Twins a few years away

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins have remade their rotation after a rough time last season and they’ll have at least three new guys in the five-man group.

The real solution is probably a few years away.

Two prospects acquired by trade this offseason, Trevor May and Alex Meyer, are waiting in the wings. Former first-round draft pick Kyle Gibson is closer to contributing, but he’s coming off ligament replacement surgery on his throwing elbow and will likely be on an innings limit this year. So while they might not be of much help to the Twins in 2013, if at all, there’s hope again for strong starting pitching that any team needs to contend for a title.

“Hopefully when you get there, get with the big club, you have that core that’s been playing together and you know how to build off each other,” said May, who will live with Meyer during spring training. “It’s all about getting on runs and stringing wins together. With a group of core guys that all work together, it’s that much easier. It’s exciting to be a part of something that seems like the organization is really excited about and all the fans are really excited about. So why not be excited about it?”

After the Twins finished 66-96 and 63-99 the last two seasons, their minor league affiliates have slowly been restocked with some star-caliber talent. Many analysts have ranked their farm system among the best in the majors. The top 100 prospects list produced by MLB.com had six Twins on it, including Meyer (No. 40) and Gibson (No. 49).

So even though they’re essentially auditioning for 2014 and beyond, this trio won’t escape scrutiny when spring training officially begins Wednesday. General manager Terry Ryan said he wasn’t worried, saying they all seem to have their “heads screwed on straight.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire said he’ll keep a close eye on May and Meyer, particularly, so they don’t try too hard to impress their new team.

“That’ll be the first thing my pitching coach will tell them and I’m going to tell them: ‘We don’t want you out here to throw it 95. Don’t try to throw it 105. Do the work. Watch. Keep your eyes open, your ears open, and keep your mouth shut. Pay attention to the veterans, let them do their thing, and learn,’ ” Gardenhire said, adding: “Then we’ll see at the end of spring training, when I’m knocking on Terry’s door, trying to keep them both.”

Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Missouri, almost certainly would’ve been in the rotation last year had he not been recovering from Tommy John surgery. But because of the injury, he’s pitched only 28 Zc innings in live games since July 2011, down the stretch last season as he worked his way back to Triple-A Rochester.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t have setbacks,” Ryan said. “He’s done a nice job of getting where he’s at, and we’re doing to bring him to spring training and see if he can make this club.”