Polanco skilled but needs to improve defense

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Twins third base coach Joe Vavra congratulated Jorge Polanco on his two-run triple on Friday against Texas.

Photo: Tony Gutierrez, AP

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– Jorge Polanco’s mother, Ynes, was trying to fly from Venezuela to Texas in time to see her son in a major league uniform.

Barring a late development, Polanco will likely head back to Class A Fort Myers after Sunday’s game as the Twins prepare to activate Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez from the disabled list. So this might be his mother’s only chance for a while to see her son in the majors.

Polanco won’t return to the minors empty-handed. He has the ball from his first major league hit on Friday, a triple in the ninth inning that drove in two runs. He’s the third Twin ever to get a triple for his first major league hit, the others were Bernie Allen in 1962 and Jimmie Hall in 1963.

“I was excited,” Polanco said when asked if he was nervous. “I wanted to hit.”

The Twins like how he swings the bat but they feel he needs work defensively. They worked out on the field before Saturday’s game instead of just hitting in the batting cages. One of the reasons was to work with Polanco on his defense.

“He’s got an arm,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s a little erratic. And late in the game [Friday], there were some situations where he didn’t know where he was at. We were telling him to play in [at shortstop] and he was backing up. That’s understandable. He’s been in A-ball. He’s got a lot to learn.

“We all saw where his talent is right [now], it’s his swing and his running. He was flying. Very talented young man. He’s just has to improve on his defense. He’s got the skills. He’s got the arm.”

It sounded unlikely that Polanco will start on Sunday. This was an emergency situation. Polanco’s role basically is to watch and learn.

“I think just seeing how we go about our business up here is a value in itself, whether or not he gets any extended playing time,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “If you are 20 years old and can come up here and watch what Mauer does and watch what these veteran players do, I think that’s value, being around the clubhouse.”

The time was right

Gardenhire felt it was time to encourage the team on Friday after coming back, but falling short, in a 5-4 loss to Texas. At the time, it was the Twins’ fourth straight loss.

“We looked a little frustrated leaving Anaheim,” he said. “And you come out for the first game and we got beaten up a little bit offensively until the end and you come back like that and we have a chance to tie it up with the tying run at third.

“When we lost, I thought it was pretty quiet, so I just went through there and told them it was fun to watch them play. They haven’t quit. Those are frustrating and hard loses on a team.”

Gardenhire told them they will win plenty of games if they keep that approach.

Etc.

• Outfielder Byron Buxton has started hitting in the batting cage as he recovers from a sprained left wrist. The Twins aren’t sure when he’ll be able to play in games. Buxton, the top prospect in baseball, is working out in Fort Myers, Fla.

• Nunez was scheduled to play on Saturday for Class AA New Britain, then fly to the Twin Cities on Sunday. He will be activated from the 15-day disabled list (right hamstring) on Monday.

• Plouffe told Gardenhire that he’s ready to play. He worked out before Saturday’s game and should also be activated on Monday (rib).

• Gardenhire is worried about Pedro Florimon, who is 0-for-11 since being recalled from Class AAA Rochester. “Even in a hitter’s count. he can’t put a good swing on the ball,” Gardenhire said. “I feel bad for the kid. He needs a bloop” to fall in.

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