NEW YORK – The Twins took fielding and batting practice Monday at Yankee Stadium, getting used to surroundings that likely will feel a lot different before a packed house Tuesday night. But one man was missing.
Miguel Sano, whose roster status remains probable but not certain, spent the afternoon in the visitors’ clubhouse, undergoing treatment for his sore left shin and hitting a few pitches in the indoor cages. The Twins have until 9 Tuesday morning to submit their roster for the 7:07 p.m. game, and have said they will wait until the deadline to make the call on their hobbled slugger.
The Yankees also have yet to reveal their 25-man squad, so why not keep them guessing, the Twins figure, about their plans for Sano?
“Whether he’s going to start or not, I still haven’t inked it in yet,” manager Paul Molitor said, “but I’m waiting to have him on the bench.”
Molitor said he wants to have Sano “in some capacity,” implying that the 24-year-old, who has hit five homers in just nine career games against the Yankees, likely will be limited to pinch-hit duty. Robbie Grossman figures to get the start if Sano, who has had eight at-bats in the six weeks since fouling a ball off his shin in mid-August, doesn’t make quick improvement.
Belisle ready for duty
If the Twins win Tuesday, there’s a pretty good chance that Matt Belisle will be on the mound when it happens. And while that’s an exciting prospect, it’s also not one that the latter-day Twins closer is thinking about.
“The biggest thing by far is that we get the win. Who pitches when isn’t one one-hundredth as important,” said Belisle, who has nine saves since All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler was traded to Washington in July. “I’ll pitch whenever Paul decides I’m needed.”
He would like to do so next year, too, but despite a solid season as a 37-year-old veteran of 14 major league seasons, he is not assuming he will be offered a contract by anyone.
“I learned a long time ago that [when] relievers accrue a certain amount of years, a lot of teams start to want to go with younger guys,” said Belisle, who earned a little over $2 million on a one-year contract he signed in February. “I don’t know what will happen next year. I just know that when it’s all done, I’ll go home and start working and I’ll hope for a phone call from somebody.”
If it was the Twins, even better. “I’ve enjoyed this season tremendously. It’s been one of the most enjoyable years I’ve ever had, easily,” said Belisle, who has also played for the Reds, Rockies, Cardinals and Nationals. “When we left spring training, I was thrilled with the group we had, and I knew we had something special on the inside. So I’ve loved my time here, truthfully.”
Sweet taste of celebrating
It’s only one game, but it’s still worth celebrating. If they pull off the upset Tuesday, the Twins will enjoy their second champagne celebration in the clubhouse, GM Thad Levine said.
“You have as many as you can,” Levine said. “My feeling is, you’re never entitled to the next celebration, so enjoy this one.”
He believes the Twins’ beer-and-bubbly shower in Cleveland last Wednesday, upon clinching a wild-card berth, has a benefit beyond impromptu intoxication.
“Without question, especially considering the sheer volume of players who had never done that at a major-league level. It’s important to have that experience and understand what you’re shooting for,” Levine said. “It’s not the literal champagne shower, but the celebration with all your teammates. It’s a special moment. That’s something I hope will galvanize our players going forward.”
• Jason Castro said he will tread carefully behind the plate when Jacoby Ellsbury bats. Ellsbury, the majors’ all-time leader in drawing catcher’s interference, earned a free trip to first base by nicking Castro’s glove with his long, looping swing on Sept. 18, so “it’s something we always have to be aware of,” Castro said. “I’m definitely going to make an adjustment.”
• Alfonso Marquez will be behind the plate for the game, MLB announced. Twins starter Ervin Santana is 4-2 with a 3.39 ERA in nine starts when Marquez is calling balls and strikes. New York’s Luis Severino is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his lone start. Other umpires: crew chief Mike Winters, Eric Cooper, Lance Barksdale, Tripp Gibson and John Tumpane.