SAN DIEGO – Trevor Plouffe leads the AL in doubles with 18, which is surprising enough. But the identity of the team’s second-most successful batter at getting to second base might shock you.
It doesn’t surprise Eduardo Escobar, though.
“I’m feeling like I should be hitting doubles,” the Twins’ starting shortstop said. “I feel great, and I’m concentrating more at home.”
The concentration undoubtedly helps, but Escobar says he’s adopted a new approach that has helped him pile up 12 doubles in just 22 starts this year, too. “I think I’m swinging harder. I’m trying to,” the Venezuelan said. Previous hitting coaches had tried to smooth out his swing, he said, but “I don’t like it when I go to home plate and use easy swing. Some guys can do that, but when I swing easy, I hit it on the ground.”
This year, he said, he has worked on his strength and is trying to swing harder to take advantage of it. He’s learned to pounce on pitches he can drive, and his manager has noticed the difference.
“He uses his legs pretty well. He drives through the ball [and] gets some bat speed generated by using his legs,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “There’s certain parts of the strike zone he can really cover. He likes to swing, you can tell that. If you make a mistake in the right spot, he kills it. He can hit it a long way for a little guy, because he uses his bottom half.”
Hello and goodbye
The Twins had barely arrived, and they already were packing up to leave.
Minnesota’s first visit to San Diego since 2008 lasted just two games, and the Twins were told to prepare to hustle to team buses and rush to the airport once Wednesday’s finale ended. The reason? The San Diego airport, located just off downtown and just downhill from a residential area, has an 11 p.m. curfew for takeoffs. The Twins’ charter plane was instructed to take off before curfew, whether the team had arrived for its flight to San Francisco or not. If the game ran long or went into extra innings, the team’s buses would rendezvous with the plane at the nearest U.S. airport that doesn’t have a curfew — Ontario, Calif., more than two hours north of here.
“It feels weird to be packing up already,” Gardenhire said before the game. “Quick trip.”
Actually, the trip includes a rare pair of days off, one on each side of this series at Petco Park, giving the half-dozen Californians on the roster time to see friends and relatives. Not all the Twins were catching the charter; a handful, assistant general manager Rob Antony said, had been given permission to stay back in Southern California and rejoin the club Friday in San Francisco.
The trip also includes some sight-seeing, and several members of the traveling party plan to golf, at some of the country’s most famous courses, on the off day.
And a delegation including Gardenhire, coach Terry Steinbach, reliever Brian Duensing and a few others were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the training base for the Navy Seals, some of the military’s most elite soldiers.
Outfielder Sam Fuld remains limited to walking and a few cardio exercises, but his concussion symptoms still don’t allow him to begin baseball activities, Antony said. But Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia have experienced no wrist pain at Class AAA Rochester, “and it’s just a matter of getting them at-bats now,” before they are called up, Antony said.