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

With Kepler out sick, Adrianza gets another outfield start for Twins

    CHICAGO — Max Kepler ate something that made him sick, or came down with a late-summer flu bug. Whatever the cause, the Twins outfielder “didn’t have a really good night, [and] struggled a bit this morning,” according to manager Paul Molitor, and didn’t come to the ballpark with his teammates.

    Molitor is hopeful that Kepler will feel better as the evening goes along and eventually comes to Guaranteed Rate Park. Perhaps he’ll even be available to pinch-hit or play the outfield late in the game. But Molitor is proceeding as though he’s out for the night.

    That means utility infielder Ehire Adrianza will play left field tonight, with Eddie Rosario moving across the outfield to Kepler’s usual spot in right. Molitor said he considered Mitch Garver, who has a half-dozen games of experience in the outfield at Triple-A, and Chris Gimenez, who has played out there a handful of times this season. But “Adrianza is a good athlete,” Molitor said. “Gimenez or Garver could go out and do a good job, but I’ll take the speed edge, as well as him just having really good hands.”

    With Kepler, Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman all sidelined, the Twins’ lineups are taking on some unique shapes. For instance: Jorge Polanco, who homered twice on Monday and is in the midst of the hottest streak of his career, moves into the third slot today, for the first time in his career. Similarly, Byron Buxton will bat fifth, becoming the 12th different Twin to occupy that spot in the starting lineup this year.

    “It’s something you want to be mindful and thoughtful about. Guys don’t know where they’re going to show up” in the lineup each day, Molitor said. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think they’ve all been responding really well.”

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s game:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Polanco SS

Rosario RF

Buxton CF

Escobar 3B

Vargas DH

Castro C

Adrianza LF

 

Gibson RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

L. Garcia LF

Moncada 2B

Abreu 1B

Delmonico DH

A. Garcia RF

Sanchez 3B

Anderson SS

Narvaez C

Engel CF

 

Giolito RHP

Postgame: Gee hoping for consistent role; Saturday's starter still not chosen

    CHICAGO — Dillon Gee hadn’t started a game since last Sept. 13, having made 11 big-league relief appearances in the interim. In the first six seasons of his major league career, all of it with the Mets, he started 110 games and pitched in relief just four times.

    In between, though, well, Gee doesn’t relish the memory. He appeared in 33 games for the Royals, but only 14 were starts. And that’s not the best situation, he said.

    “I like to start. I like the bullpen, too,” Gee said after limiting the White Sox to two hits over six innings and earning his first win as a starter since Aug. 29, 2016. “The only thing I’ve expressed to these guys [is that] in the past, I’ve been bounced back and forth quite a bit, and sometimes my consistency has lacked when that happens.”

    In other words, he’d prefer remaining a long reliever if the Twins don’t want to put him in the rotation — and he thinks the Twins would ultimately benefit from his pitching if they choose a role for him and stick with it.

    “If I get a start, I’m going to go out there and do my best for the team. I definitely think I can be a starter still,” the 31-year-old veteran righthander said. “I just prefer for it to be a longer term. But whatever the team needs, that’s what i’m going to do.”

    Paul Molitor said after the game that he hasn’t made a decision about Saturday’s game in Toronto, but Gee was always a candidate. He’ll confer with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, he said, before choosing a starter.

Heat gets to Kepler

    Max Kepler started Monday’s first game against a left-handed starter, Carlos Rodon, against whom he is now 0-for-11 in his career, but he sat out the second game against a righthander, Carson Fulmer, a rookie he had never faced.

    Seems a little odd, right?

    Turns out, Kepler was actually written into Molitor’s lineup, batting second, for Game 2, until the manager learned that Kepler had begun feeling nauseous in the heavy humidity and 85-degree heat of Chicago.

    “I think he’s OK. He came down with a bug or something, and wasn’t feeling well,” Molitor explained. “We decided it wasn’t a good idea to put him out there” for the second game.

    And as luck would have it, the Twins actually benefitted from Kepler’s absence. Jorge Polanco hit a three-run second-inning home run to stake the Twins to an early lead, something that wouldn’t have happened had Kepler been feeling OK.

    “I told him he should go high-five Kepler, because I didn’t have him in the lineup until Kepler got scratched,” Molitor said. “So that worked out pretty well.”