The Willians Astudillo Experience is back in town, and the popular rookie looks like he’s recovered from his slump.
Astudillo, called up Wednesday when Marwin Gonzalez went on the disabled list with a sore hamstring, was immediately slotted back into the Twins lineup — at second base, for only the second time in his career — and he responded with a vintage La Tortuga game.
Astudillo, in a 1-for-13 slump when he was sent down on June 7, swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded it into right field for a single. Next time up, he swung at the first pitch again, and launched it nearly 400 feet into the Twins bullpen. That’s his fourth homer of the past 11 days, but the first three were for Rochester.
He took a pitch in his third at-bat, but only one, then flew out to right. And Astudillo fouled off a pitch, took a ball (though the Red Sox appealed his check swing), then hit a hot smash up the middle for another single.
That’s seven pitches, five swings, four balls in play, and three hits.
“I just tried to put contact on the ball and hit it hard,” Astudillo said. “I feel satisfied.”
So did Rocco Baldelli.
“No matter who is on the mound, he can go out there and compete and find the barrel and potentially make something happen,” the Twins manager said. “It really doesn’t matter who is [pitching].”
Astudillo batted .526 at Class AAA, with two or more hits in seven of the nine games he played. Was that a sign that he was angered by the demotion, and determined to take it out on International League pitchers?
Not really, the 27-year-old said.
“Once I went down there, I just wanted — not to show anybody, but just to show myself — what I’m capable of. I swung the bat and helped us win games, that’s all,” he said through an interpreter. “When I went down there, I started watching some videos of what I was doing here and what I was doing down there. And I just worked on the things that weren’t working for me when I was sent down.”
He also enjoyed playing second base, the erstwhile catcher said. Astudillo started two double plays and was the pivot man on a third, a pretty good night’s work for the infielder.
“I just go out and try to make all the plays,” he said, pulling on a La Tortuga T-shirt for the Twins’ flight to Kansas City.