For all the positions Marwin Gonzalez has played, he found a new one next to his name Tuesday: Designated hitter.
“Whatever he wants,” Gonzalez said of manager Rocco Baldelli, who drew up his 37th different lineup Tuesday for his team’s 48th game, this one putting Gonzalez at the DH slot for the first time in his eight-year career.
Gonzalez had sat out the past two games because of general soreness after serving, more or less, as the everyday third baseman during Miguel Sano’s absence, so this was Baldelli’s way of easing him back into action.
“It’s super weird not being in there,” said Gonzalez who adapted well enough to go 2-for-5 with a game-tying homer, double and three RBI. “but we’re winning.”
They certainly are, and their versatility, Baldelli believes, has something to do with it. Gonzalez came advertised as the Swiss army knife of ballplayers, able to handle any position, but the presence of Ehire Adrianza, Willians Astudillo and now Luis Arraez, all players who can man half a dozen different spots, has turned the Twins lineups into a daily surprise.
Want proof? Sano hit the game-winning home run Monday, his second blast in three days. And on Tuesday, he discovered Arraez, the rookie with three games of big-league experience, in the lineup in his place.
“We kind of have an interesting dynamic going on right now, with different guys bouncing around,” Baldelli said. “We don’t have any player that’s going to play every game. We’re going to have days off for our guys.”
Cal Ripken Jr. probably wouldn’t approve, but Baldelli said he believes keeping his players from wearing down is a big part of his job. And he knows not everyone might agree.
“That’s normal. It’s pretty reasonable thing for guys to want to get [at-bats],” Baldelli said. “Being out there and seeing pitches, that is something that does help a lot of guys.”
He doesn’t approve of versatility for its own sake, however. He’s played Adrianza in the outfield, and Astudillo, too, but wouldn’t do it if he believed the Twins defense would be compromised.
And sometimes lineup changes occur for non-baseball reasons. C.J. Cron, for instance, didn’t play on Monday but was back in the lineup a day later.
“We have to get him back out on the field, because I’m getting really tired of sitting next to him on the bench,” Baldelli said with a smile. “All he does is talk to us the entire time, and we can’t handle it anymore.”
Cruz, Garver improving
Nelson Cruz, on the injured list because of a sore left wrist, took batting practice Tuesday, and will swing on the field on Wednesday, remaining on schedule for a return to the roster once he is eligible Friday.
“Coming out of Seattle, he was still sore,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer. “We’re going to have a much better idea [Wednesday]. If not Friday, my expectation is it’s pretty soon.”
Both Falvey and Baldelli said Cruz’s timeline will not be effected by how well Arraez, called up to replace him, plays. “When Nellie is healthy, Nellie will be back,” Baldelli said.
Meanwhile, Mitch Garver is out of the protective boot on his left foot and took swings off a tee and did some light jogging Tuesday back in Minneapolis. The Twins believe his ankle sprain “is on the milder end” and won’t require more than another week or two to recover, though he will almost certainly require a rehab assignment.
Reed to be released
Addison Reed was informed Tuesday that he has been placed on release waivers and that the Twins will release him once he clears on Thursday, Falvey said. The Twins still owe the righthanded reliever another $6.2 million this year, the final season of his two-year contract.