ARLINGTON, Texas – After beginning his normal pregame routine Saturday in Indianapolis, Alex Presley noticed his phone said he had missed a call. Then he noticed it was from Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington.
“I figured I needed to call him back,” Presley deadpanned a day later and a time zone away.
When he did, he learned that he was no longer a Pirate, and no longer at Class AAA for that matter, but one of two players the Twins had acquired for Justin Morneau. He caught a plane Sunday morning, took a cab to Rangers Ballpark and began getting used to his new life. And a new opportunity.
“I’ve been called up four times this year, but this one is a little different,” the 28-year-old Louisiana native said. “This is a chance to show a new team that I deserve to be at the big-league level.”
There’s no doubt about him at a level below; Presley has batted .309, with a .377 on-base percentage and a .460 slugging percentage over four Class AAA seasons. But in several stints with Pittsburgh, he was only a .261 hitter.
“Consistent at-bats are a big deal. In Triple-A, you play every day,” the former eighth-round draft pick said. “At the big-league level, that’s been on and off a little bit.”
No mystery about that. Presley’s natural position is center field, where the Pirates already have an All-Star in Andrew McCutchen.
“We’re excited. He actually ate up our Triple-A team in a series recently [going 7-for-14 against Rochester], and our guys duly noted that,” Gardenhire said of Presley. “We brought him over [because] we needed a leadoff guy. … He’s going to get a chance.”
He’s already got an identity — the guy the Twins got for Morneau. And how do they compare?
“I’m a speed player — get on base, bunt every now and then, try to steal. Run around the outfield and run some stuff down,” Presley said. “The opposite of Morneau. He’s a power guy; I can’t really compare.”
So he’s no Morneau. And you know who else he isn’t?
“I had [No.] 7 in Pittsburgh,” said Presley, wearing Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s No. 1 on his back. “I know I’m not getting that here.”
What of Welker?
Presley offered this scouting report on Duke Welker, his spring-training roommate who is reportedly the second player headed to the Twins: “He’s a big righthander, throws hard. A good slider, and likes to use a lot. He’s a two-pitch guy. He runs it up there 96, 97 [mph].”
However, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan disputed reports in Pittsburgh that a decision on the second player has been made.
“I do not know who the player [to be named] is. So I don’t know how anybody else does,” Ryan said, adding that the teams agreed upon a list of potential players, with the Pirates having the right to choose one to send to the Twins.
• Joe Mauer continues to show progress as he recovers from an Aug. 19 concussion, and Ryan stopped just short of saying the catcher might be ready to return to action when the Twins begin a 10-game homestand Friday. “They’re giving him more every day, and he’s responding, so we’re in a pretty good spot here,” Ryan said. “He’s doing better, that’s the important thing.” So will he play next weekend? “It’s a tad early to say that,” Ryan said, “but that would be ideal.”
• Rookie outfielder Oswaldo Arcia hit off a tee Saturday and said his sore wrist was better, but it is not completely healed yet. “He told me he was anywhere from 65 to 80 percent” healthy, Gardenhire said. “Now we know it’s just inflammation in there. We’re trying to get all the pain out.”