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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins roster move imminent as Santana arrives

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ervin Santana has arrived in Missouri, but he’s not allowed to be at Kauffman Stadium tonight as the Twins play Game No. 80 — the final game of his steroids suspension. Under MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, Santana must be placed on the roster tomorrow, and the Twins are planning an announcement after the game to make room.

    Presumably, that will mean sending a pitcher to Class AAA, though not necessarily a starter. It’s possible the Twins will remove a reliever instead, in order to put off a final decision about what the starting rotation will look like with Santana in it. That decision, manager Paul Molitor said, “is coming close to finalized,” but the Twins don’t want to put anything in motion before they have to.

    The uncertainty has produced no tension in the clubhouse that Molitor can detect, he said. “It’s no secret. Guys who have been pitching know that we’re going to be forced to do something,” Molitor said. “They all know that between Terry and myself and my staff, we’re going to try to do what’s best for the team overall. I hope we don’t have too many issues with that.”

    Santana, suspended three days before Opening Day after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol, will make his Twins debut Sunday, and Phil Hughes will open the homestand Monday against Baltimore. Beyond that, Molitor said, the Twins aren’t ready to say.

    Meanwhile, the Twins have Aaron Hicks back in the lineup tonight, after he was activated from the disabled list, having recovered from the strained right forearm he suffered in mid-June. Hicks takes the place of Shane Robinson, who left the team to be with his eight-month-old daughter Harper, who underwent emergency surgery in Boston on Thursday. Harper was born with a stomach condition that has kept her hospitalized virtually since she was born.

    “My message was, ‘I know that you feel committed to this team. Don’t ever think anyone is questioning your desire to be a part of this. You’re doing the right thing; take as much time as you need,” said Molitor, who doesn’t expect Robinson to return before Sunday, at the earliest. “When you have an eight-month old daughter, it’s got to be heavy to carry, to come around here and try to do your work. The right thing is to go support her and be with his wife.”

    As for Hicks, he’s just glad to be back, and he believes the Twins will be happy to see Santana back, too. Hicks was in center field for Santana’s final minor-league tuneup on Tuesday, when he pitched eight shutout innings. How did Santana look? “He looked goooood,” Hicks said, clearly impressed.

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s game:

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Hunter RF

Mauer 1B

Plouffe 3B

Rosario LF

Sano DH

Suzuki C

Escobar SS

Hicks CF

 

Milone LHP

 

ROYALS

 

Escobar SS

Moustakas 3B

Cain CF

Hosmer 1B

Morales DH

Gordon LF

Perez C

Rios RF

Infante 2B

 

Guthrie RHP

Postgame: Molitor hopes Twins learn value of bunting

    A couple of extra items from a rather bizarre game. Seriously, when was the last time you saw both team’s cleanup hitters lay down a bunt?

    — The Twins haven’t scored many runs against Kansas City this season, just 28 in 10 games (including eight in one game). So Paul Molitor is determined to do whatever he can to manufacture runs while the Twins are here in Kauffman Stadium. That’s why when Kurt Suzuki led off the fifth inning with a double, and Joe Mauer led off the sixth with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch, Molitor asked the next hitter to move the runner to third. He left it up to the hitters — Eduardo Escobar and Trevor Plouffe — to decide how they wanted to do that.

    “They always have the option of using a bunt if they don’t feel comfortable trying to hit to the right side,” Molitor said. Because of the defensive alignment and the situation, both chose to square around and bunt. The sacrifice was effective both times, though only Escobar’s eventually produced a run.

    But Molitor wanted to make a bigger point after the game. “They also learned that neither of those bunts were particularly good, but they got the job done. And I hope it makes them realize that they made close plays out of not-really-good bunts,” Molitor said. “If you can get the ball into a good spot, everybody should think about it now and then. “

    In Plouffe’s case, the bunt was more than a little unusual; it was the first time since Sept. 13, 1999, that a Twins cleanup hitter (Corey Koskie) had successfully executed a sacrifice bunt. Plouffe credited his speed, albeit with a smile; he timed himself on video after the game and said he reached first base in 4.2 seconds.

    Joking or not, though, Plouffe said he had no problem being asked to bunt. “To get a guy on third base with one out, or possibly first and third with no outs, I’ll take that,” said Plouffe, who was out by just a step or two on the play. “That’s me trying to help the team. If I feel great against a pitcher and I see him well, I’m probably not going to do that. But it made sense.”

    — Speaking of bunting, the Royals came prepared to combat the Twins’ defensive shifts with a couple bunts of their own. Mike Moustakas broke an 0-for-14 hitless streak in the first inning by laying down a bunt directly at where Plouffe would normally be playing, but it was an easy single because he had been shifted into the shortstop hole.

    Three innings later, Royals cleanup hitter Eric Hosmer attacked a similar Twins shift by bunting down the third-base line, helping to create a bases-loaded threat that Kyle Gibson escaped by striking out Salvador Perez with a slider that he said wasn’t even a good one. “It was effective because he was surprised,” Gibson said.

    — Glen Perkins pitched a quick ninth inning and, at 26-for-26, is now just one save away from Joe Nathan’s franchise record of 27 consecutive saves.

    — Molitor was happy for Danny Santana, who bunted toward first base for a single in the third inning and tripled in a run with a blast to left-center in the sixth. It was Santana’s first multi-hit game since May 6. “He hasn’t had much success with runners in scoring position,” Molitor said. “He made sure he got a pitch that was elevated. It’s what we like to see, trying to go opposite-gap when you have those situations. It keeps you on the ball a little bit longer, and he turned it into a triple.”

Bottom 2nd R H E
Minnesota 42-37 1 2 0
Kansas City 44-32 0 0 0

Today's Scoreboard

  • Miami

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • San Francisco

    Washington

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • Tampa Bay

    NY Yankees

     

    - Bot 9th

    3

    3

  • Cleveland

    Pittsburgh

     

    - Delayed

    3

    2

  • Toronto

    Detroit

     

    - F

    6

    8

  • Houston

    Boston

     

    - Bot 7th

    7

    6

  • Milwaukee

    Cincinnati

     

    - Bot 8th

    10

    0

  • Philadelphia

    Atlanta

     

    - Top 9th

    1

    2

  • LA Angels

    Texas

     

    - Bot 6th

    8

    1

  • Baltimore

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - Bot 8th

    0

    1

  • Minnesota

    Kansas City

     

    - Top 8th

    2

    1

  • San Diego

    St. Louis

     

    - Bot 8th

    1

    1

  • Seattle

    Oakland

     

    - Bot 4th

    2

    3

  • Colorado

    Arizona

     

    - Bot 2nd

    3

    2

  • NY Mets

    LA Dodgers

     

    - Bot 1st

    0

    0

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