FORT MYERS, FLA. – When Astros star Carlos Correa injured his back last June, Marwin Gonzalez stepped in and manned shortstop almost exclusively for a month. Now that he’s with the Twins, Gonzalez might be tasked with another be-the-regular assignment for a while.
So the Twins are being extra careful with his health.
Gonzalez was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup vs. Tampa Bay after reporting some mild soreness in his right shoulder, though manager Rocco Baldelli said the injury is minor. The team’s trainers said Gonzalez could have played, Baldelli said, but he decided it didn’t make sense, three weeks ahead of Opening Day.
“A very precautionary situation,” Baldelli said. “We just don’t have any need to rush these veteran players.”
Especially when their value becomes so high. With Miguel Sano sidelined until at least May, Gonzalez becomes Baldelli’s primary option at third base, though Ehire Adrianza and even Willians Astudillo could see time there. The Twins also have Ronald Torreyes, who played 74 games at third base for the Yankees, on the roster.
“One of the benefits to having Marwin was that he could play multiple position, and fill in for you if there is an issue at one spot,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer. “This is an issue at one spot right now.”
Gonzalez will still prepare for playing multiple positions — everywhere but pitcher and catcher, basically — but, “It’s fair to say he might spend at least somewhat more time at third base,” Baldelli said. “The person that has the best feel for how Marwin needs to prepare is Marwin. … We’ll probably see him in a few extra games at third than maybe we normally would.”
First, he needs to make sure his shoulder is sound. Baldelli said Gonzalez will work out with minor league players to get some at-bats for a few days, but “I would assume we’re going to see him out there [in the lineup] again very soon.”
Fernando Romero on Monday became the Twins’ first major league reliever to pitch more than one inning in a game this spring, a reflection of Baldelli’s eagerness to use the former starter in a variety of roles.
“He said he was up for it. He showed us today that he can do it,” Baldelli said. “He’s the kind of arm that can affect a team in a very, very positive way. You don’t have too many of those guys.”
Romero pitched the seventh and eighth innings vs. the Orioles, giving up an unearned run on a wild pitch but then retiring the last four batters he faced, two by strikeout.
Romero still is trying to develop a better changeup, but “in shorter stints, you might not need those pitches as much as guys who go four-five-six-seven innings, where you are turning a lineup over multiple times,” Baldelli said.
• Trevor Hildenberger was touched for two runs Tuesday, both scoring on a home run by Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz.
• Byron Buxton, who still leads all major league players with 11 spring RBI, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
The Twins will take Wednesday off, their first day without a workout or game in three weeks, and visit the Red Sox on Thursday.