SAN FRANCISCO – Ehire Adrianza was out on the field a couple of hours before Twins batting practice Friday, trying to do his daily fielding exercises. But it wasn’t going well, mostly because he kept getting interrupted by former teammates who wanted to say hello.
Adrianza was a popular Giants infielder for four years, and the homecoming this weekend clearly means a lot to him, too.
“I’m very excited. This team gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues, and in 2014 we won the World Series,” the 27-year-old Venezuelan said. “I like being back here, seeing some of the guys. This place means a lot to me.”
Considering he has the fewest at-bats of any Twins position player, Adrianza is starting to mean a lot to his manager, too. Though he wasn’t in the lineup Friday, he played the four previous games at shortstop with Jorge Polanco on bereavement leave, and had a hit in three of them.
“The best compliment I can send his way is, he’s a really good baseball player,” Paul Molitor said. “He’s a pleasure to manage, because I know I can do a lot of things with him. He can steal a base, he can bunt, he can hit-and-run, he’s versatile defensively and he’s an outstanding shortstop.”
Notice he didn’t say, “He’s a good hitter.” Adrianza knows that’s the factor that has held his career back, and he’s taken steps, he believes, to change that. Three weeks ago, coaches Rudy Hernandez and James Rowson sold Adrianza on a relatively major change to his swing, something most players are reluctant to attempt during the season.
“I always used a double-tap [with his front foot] to start my swing, and it was making me late to get to the ball,” Adrianza said. “They had me start doing a leg kick instead, and it’s helping. It’s hard because the timing’s got to be perfect, but they say it’s going to take a while for it to be 100 percent. But we work on it every day.”
Adrianza is a career .229 hitter, but since changing his swing, he’s gone 8-for-27 (.296) in sporadic usage, and he believes he can do even better.
“I’m seeing the ball better, I’m recognizing pitches better. I don’t have to rush my swing like I was before,” he said. “Rudy and James said, ‘Don’t be afraid. You can be a better hitter. You can hit doubles and homers.’ ”
Turley to start Sunday
Nik Turley, a lefthander who has posted a 2.05 combined ERA for Class AAA Rochester and Class AA Chattanooga, will make his major league debut Sunday, Molitor has decided.
Turley, a 27-year-old Canadian who has bounced around the minor leagues for a decade after being drafted in the 50th round of the 2008 draft, was signed as a minor league free agent over the winter. But he has had the season of his life, giving up only one run in 24⅓ innings at Chattanooga, then 11 runs in 28⅓ innings at Rochester.
“His last start was impressive,” Molitor said of Turley’s six shutout innings on just four hits against Scranton on Tuesday. “He was struggling with his offspeed for a while, but it seems like he’s got that back on track.”
The Twins must make a move to add Turley to the 40- and 25-man rosters. They will announce those transactions Saturday.
Grossman stays hot
With the way Robbie Grossman has been hitting lately, Molitor wanted to keep his “extra” outfielder in the lineup Friday, particularly facing lefthander Matt Moore. So Eddie Rosario didn’t start for a second consecutive game, and third time in four games.
Grossman then went 3-for-4 Friday, putting his June on-base percentage at .457 and slugging percentage at .536.
“Rosey didn’t get a chance to play last night, but Robbie’s been playing really well,” Molitor said — and he includes Grossman’s defense as markedly improved, too. “I’ve been trying to find a way to get [Grossman] in there.”