September baseball for non-contending teams means looking at players who could help a team contend in the future. And now that all the Twins’ late-season call-ups have arrived, the evaluation period can move into full swing.
The Twins saw a few swings they liked Monday, when they beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 and ended a franchise-record 10-game home losing streak.
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe — no, he’s not a rookie, but he might need to produce to save his job — was 2-for-4 with three RBI. Catcher Josmil Pinto — one of the inexperienced players trying to impress this month — hit three doubles. The teams met Monday to play a game that was rained out April 17, and the announced attendance of 21,826 was the lowest in Target Field’s history.
“The people who showed up, they were rooting pretty hard,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
With the streak over and the players finally called up from Class AAA Rochester — the Red Wings were in the playoffs until Sunday — the Twins can work on determining their 2014 roster. Infielder Eduardo Escobar, first baseman-outfielder Chris Parmelee, catcher Eric Fryer, lefthander Scott Diamond and righthanders Cole De Vries, Michael Tonkin and Shairon Martis were promoted for Monday’s game.
“We are going to move people around and hopefully they will come up and show us some things and give us good thoughts over the winter,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Pinto was called up Aug. 31 and has made an impression with his bat. He is batting .565 with five doubles and a home run. He hit three doubles and scored two runs Monday, but needs to work on his game-calling.
“He’s a strong man with a short swing and you can see him drive the ball both ways,” Gardenhire said.
Diamond earned a call-up after going 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts. He will start Thursday against Oakland, with the Twins using a six-man rotation the rest of the season.
One player not called up was outfielder Aaron Hicks, the former first-round draft pick and Opening Day starting center fielder. Hicks was sent down Aug. 1 with a .192 batting average, with orders to play well enough to deserve a promotion. Hicks batted .220, battled injuries and made a couple of poor plays in the field.
The Twins clearly are sending a message.
“We told him when we sent him down to go down there and dominate and earn your way back up here,” Gardenhire said. “He really didn’t do that. It’s been one of those tough years mentally for him. This is a good breather for him. Hopefully he will come back with a little attitude and see how he does next spring. This is good for him.”
Fryer and Martis were called up on the recommendation of Rochester manager Gene Glynn. Fryer adds catching depth, while Martis can work out of the bullpen as a short or long reliever. Both will be making their Twins debuts.
So the Twins have several players looking to impress. But don’t forget about others such as Plouffe, who is batting .250 with 14 homers and needs to finish the season strong. Next year, he could have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
“We know the season hasn’t gone the way we wanted,” Plouffe said. “That’s the most important thing is to get wins. You want to contribute as much as you can. It is always good to go into the offseason on a good note.”