Futures Game notes: Vargas wants to play, anywhere

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2014 - 10:31 PM
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Former Twins Kent Hrbek, center, and Rick Aguilera, right, reacted to a story told by Dave Winfield as they relaxed in the dugout before the Futures Game.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jwheeler@startribune.com,

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Kennys Vargas is improving quickly as a first baseman, the Twins say. But the slugging prospect isn’t sure that’s where his future lies.

Vargas met with Twins’ farm director Brad Steil this weekend while in town for the Futures Game, and said he made a request: Let me move.

“I told him, I want to start playing outfield,” Vargas said. “I want to play outfield because I want to be on the big-league team.”

He may have 16 home runs at Class AA New Britain, but Vargas said he knows that Joe Mauer, under contract through 2018, will hold down the position for the foreseeable future. So “I’ll play wherever,” he said.

Steil told him the Twins would consider the request, Vargas said, but on one condition:

The 6-foot-6 slugger has to slim down from his current 270-pound size, hardly ideal for running around the outfield.

“He said, ‘If you want it, you have to come down to 255,’ “ Vargas said. “They told me, ‘If you do that, we’ll see.’ “

Gallo’s humor

Joey Gallo enjoyed being on a major league stage, sort of, for one day at the Futures Game, knocking a tape-measure home run to right field. He wouldn’t mind sticking around and doing it again on Monday — in the Home Run Derby.

He’s even got an important ally — Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the captain of the NL derby squad — for that idea.

“I work out sometimes with Tulo. He texted me. He was telling me I should hit for him” in the Derby, said Gallo, the Rangers’ Double-A prospect who has hit 31 home runs this season. “I was like, ‘Oh, I wish I could.’ … If they ever ask me, I’ll be here.”

Big pants to fill

World manager Bert Blyleven came out to exchange lineup cards before the game wearing a pair of yellow wooden shoes, a lighthearted salute to his homeland, the Netherlands. He wasn’t the only one wearing an unfamiliar uniform, though. When U.S. manager Tom Kelly, who led the Twins to two world championships, arrived at Target Field for the game, he discovered that his uniform didn’t include a pair of pants. Fortunately, he has connections. “These are Gardy’s,” Kelly said, displaying the pinstriped uniform pants owned by his successor as Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire. “They’re a little big,” he joked.

Meyer old, but not oldest

Twins pitching prospect Alex Meyer, who also took part in the 2012 Future Game, said he felt like the oldest player in this year’s event, but he wasn’t. That distinction belonged to Dariel Alvarez, a 25-year-old outfielder in the Baltimore system. The youngest player was 17-year-old Julio Urias, a pitcher at Class A Rancho Cucamonga in the Dodgers’ system. He pitched a perfect fifth inning, striking out Washington’s Michael Taylor on a 94-mph fastball. “That youngster didn’t look fazed at all,” Kelly marveled.

Diamond in the rough

Meyer said he was sorry to hear that Rochester teammate Scott Diamond was released by the Twins this weekend. The lefthander, who went 12-9 with the Twins in 2012, had become a clubhouse mentor, he said. “Scott’s awesome. I learned quite a bit from him,” Meyer said. “It’s really unfortunate, but he’ll find a job. Maybe a change of scenery is going to help him out. But I’m forever grateful to have him in the clubhouse. He’s a great teammate.”

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