BRADENTON, FLA. – Eduardo Escobar was there for the Twins last season when he filled in at third base for an injured Miguel Sano.
And Escobar looks to be manager Paul Molitor’s choice to fill in at short in the absence of the suspended Jorge Polanco.
At least for now. More on that later.
There will be times when Ehire Adrianza will start at short. But Molitor plans on giving Escobar most of the starts there over the final games of spring training.
“If it works out the way we hope it does, Esco is going to get a chance to play,” Molitor said. “I wouldn’t go as far to say that he is going to be my everyday shortstop, but he is going to get a chance to play.”
Escobar, 29, has played short 309 games, more than any other position in his major league career, and Molitor is more than comfortable with his glovework there. Escobar has had at least 400 plate appearances in three of the past four seasons. In most instances, the Twins have needed him to step in for someone injured or out of form.
And his plug-and-play capability was at its best last season, when he hit .254 with a career-high 21 home runs and 73 RBI. As Sano missed 38 of the final 41 games because of a stress reaction in his left shin, Escobar took over at third and batted .250 but with 10 home runs and 31 RBI.
“I’m not sure what is going to happen,” Escobar said Monday. “Like I always say since Day 1, when Mollie calls me in, I’m going to answer the call and support my teammates.”
The Twins still are waiting to hear from Major League Baseball about an investigation into an alleged assault involving Sano. If Sano is suspended, Escobar could end up at third base with Adrianza at short. That could increase the chances veteran Erick Aybar makes the team as an utility player.
“We’re still waiting for another component of the equation with Miguel,” Molitor said.
Ervin Santana is going through the most difficult part of his recovery from finger surgery, Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said: the waiting. The cast is off, the swelling is nearly gone, but the middle finger, where doctors removed a large calcium deposit in early February, remains too stiff to grip a baseball.
But the veteran righthander is “progressing as expected,” Falvey said, and the team’s timetable — returning to the rotation in late April — hasn’t changed. “Everything boils down to when his range of motion gets back to full,” Falvey said. “As soon as his full range of motion is a go, he starts his normal throwing program,” which is expected to take about a month.
What about Berrios?
The Twins have had several discussions about what to do with Jose Berrios: Start him Opening Day or set up the rotation so he pitches one of the games in his native Puerto Rico on April 17 or 18?
Molitor has sought plenty of input — but the final decision will be his.
“I never undervalue any game or any part of the season,’’ he said, “but in contrast to that, when you get into the summer months, I don’t know if you are going to have a lot of thoughts about how you did it that way.
“And it seems to be one of those bigger-than-life subjects that doesn’t play out that way over the season. I’m getting close to saying how it is going to work.”
The Twins have their second, and final, scheduled off day of spring training. But Kyle Gibson will pitch in a minor league game down the road at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. The Twins return to action on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh.
La VELLE E. NEAL III