CHICAGO - Baseball can be cruel sometimes, like it was to infielder Eduardo Escobar.
Escobar was a popular member of the first-place White Sox, playing excellent defense when called upon and lighting up the clubhouse with his energy.
On July 28, he was dealt to the Twins along with lefthander Pedro Hernandez for lefthander Francisco Liriano. Just like that, Escobar went from top of the AL Central to the bottom.
And the fall continued. The Twins, reasoning that he needed to play every day, shipped Escobar out to Class AAA Rochester for at bats.
Cruel, just cruel.
"I felt a little bit disappointed because I wanted to be here; I was in the big leagues," Escobar said. "But I understood I had to go back to Triple-A and do the things I do to get back to the big leagues."
September is here and rosters can be expanded, so the Twins called up Escobar, 23, to see what they have. And he made his Twins debut on Tuesday while facing his former team. He went 2-for-4 with three RBI.
"This is a little hard because I played all my career with the White Sox, and I appreciate a lot the opportunity they gave me to play in the big leagues," Escobar said. "But I appreciate being here, too; they've given me another opportunity here. I played there before, and now I'm going to face my old teammates."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire couldn't wait to get Escobar in the lineup. He called a meeting of his suddenly large group of middle infielders --Escobar, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla and Pedro Florimon -- and told them they all would play during the final weeks of the season, so stay ready. Carroll, the non-Latin American of the group, joked that he'd better learn Spanish.
Gardenhire then wrote out his lineup.
"He showed up and I'm playing him," Gardenhire said of Escobar. "I'm excited to see him."
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham saw Escobar before Tuesday's game and told him how much he's missed.
"It was almost like we lost a member of the family when he was traded," Beckham said. "We were happy to get [Francisco] Liriano but we definitely miss him."
Escobar, signed by the White Sox in 2006 out of Venezuela, batted .207 in 36 games with the White Sox this season and .217 at Rochester after the trade. White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing --who managed Escobar at Class AAA Charlotte last season-- said Escobar can become a good offensive player but is still learning about his swing. Escobar excels in the field, and McEwing said he will get only better.
"One of my favorites of all time," McEwing said. "I've seen him grow and develop as a player. He's a kid who can play all three infield positions, provides you solid at-bats and he's very good with his glove. His makeup is off the charts, positive energy. It just rubs off on you. He will be such a positive influence for a whole clubhouse. I can't say enough good things about him."