FORT MYERS, Fla. – Kennys Vargas’ days with the Twins may not be over quite yet.
The Twins claimed Vargas off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, just two days after the Reds claimed him from the Twins. But something has changed in the week since the Twins first decided to part ways with the 27-year-old slugger: They have room for him on the 40-man roster.
A spot opened up when Jorge Polanco was placed on the suspended list last Sunday, and when Vargas’ name showed up on the waiver wire, the Twins decided to bring him back.
“Even when we put him out [on waivers] the first time, we feel there’s value there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of last week’s transaction, made necessary when the Twins acquired outfielder Jake Cave in a trade with the Yankees.
The week in limbo actually worked out well for Vargas, who returned to Puerto Rico to be present for the birth of a daughter on Thursday, the same day that the Reds claimed him.
Vargas never actually made it to Cincinnati’s camp in Goodyear, Ariz., in fact.
But this reunion with the Twins could be just as short-lived as his stint with the Reds, since it doesn’t come with a job on the major league team, at least for now.
Because he is out of options, the Twins figure to place Vargas on waivers once again, in hopes that he goes unclaimed this time — that was obviously the Reds’ hope, too, considering they have Joey Votto at first base and no designated hitter — which would allow them to assign him to Class AAA Rochester, available for call-up.
“He’s not a real good fit for us now, that’s pretty obvious,” Molitor said.
“But there’s a lot of history there. We’ll see how things play out.”
Gibson gets ball
Kyle Gibson will start the Twins’ final Grapefruit League game on Sunday, ahead of his 2018 debut next Saturday in Baltimore. And after that? For the second time in three seasons, Gibson will be on the mound for the Target Field opener.
“It’s going to be fun. When you’re on the road, introductions can be long, and standing out there can be tough,” the 30-year-old righthander said. “But when you’re home, there’s nothing like it.”
That could be true of the April weather, too. But Gibson, who pointed out that he threw eight shutout innings in 31-degree weather against the Blue Jays in April 2014, says that’s fine with him.
“I don’t mind the cold. Being from Indiana, I’m used to it. And my first start in college [at Missouri] got snowed out,” Gibson said.
“I’m probably the only one on the field who’s warm the whole time, since I’m not doing as much standing around.”
His grip’s back
Ervin Santana grabbed a baseball off a shelf in his locker to prove it. “See?” the Twins’ righthander said, curling the fingers on his right hand around the ball. “I can hold it. I can grip it. It feels good.”
Santana, who will remain in Fort Myers when the Twins break camp Monday, said his surgically repaired middle finger is almost back to normal, and he’s just waiting for the go-ahead from the team’s athletic trainers to begin a throwing program.
“Everything’s on schedule,” Santana said. “I’ll be there soon.”
The Twins close their 2018 camp with one final meeting with their crosstown rivals, the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.