KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was time to put Miguel Sano back at third base, Paul Molitor said Monday, but with the Twins in an offensive rut, he didn’t want to take Eduardo Escobar’s bat out of the lineup. So Escobar, who filled in for Sano while the third baseman was out with a hamstring strain, will shift back to shortstop as the Twins open a three-game series with the Royals, even though he hasn’t played the position in more than a month.
“I don’t think he’s been over there a ton,” even during batting practice, Molitor said. “When you’re playing every day and you’re playing one position, you’re not going to be worried about versatility as much, but I don’t think he’ll miss a beat by going back out there today.” With Escobar at short and Robbie Grossman serving as the designated hitter, Molitor has loaded his lineup with five left-handed or switch hitters against Royals righthander Jakob Junis. It’s his best chance, the manager believes, to reverse the scoring lull that afflicted the Twins this weekend in Seattle.
Of course, not playing the Mariners might help, too. Kansas City is the only team in the majors whose starting rotation and bullpen each have a collective ERA above 5.00.
Lance Lynn would like to get his ERA closer to 5.00 tonight, too. It’s a 6.34 now, but his last start, one out short of seven scoreless innings against the Tigers, was encouraging. Lynn didn’t walk a batter until the seventh, conquering at least for one day the problem that has hampered him all season.
“I’d take something close to it. It was pretty good. We’ve been looking for Lance to get untracked,” Molitor said. “It has to have been a confidence booster for him. He was in search mode, not throwing as many strikes, making mistakes in the zone and giving up big hits. I just hope he goes out there and trusts his stuff. When he does, and he throws enough strikes, he’s going to back it up with some good numbers.”
The Twins got some positive news from home, too, where Joe Mauer took the field in sweltering Minneapolis and had his first baseball workout since going on the disabled list nine days ago. Mauer took ground balls at first base and took batting practice on the field for the first time, and had no setbacks, Molitor said.
“I don’t want to get too excited about the potential of him being ready sooner than later,” Molitor said, “but hopefully he has a good day tomorrow and he forces our hand a little bit about what we want to do when we get back in town.”
Today’s game is an early start at Kauffman Stadium due to Memorial Day: 6:15 p.m. Here are the lineups:
B. Dozier 2B
H. Dozier 1B