KANSAS CITY, MO. – Eddie Rosario chickened out.
It hardly seems possible, given his fearlessness as a baseball player, given his aggressiveness on the bases, but Rosario changed his mind about taking a risk on the bases a couple weeks ago, and it still bugs him.
"I missed my chance in Chicago," Rosario said. "I almost did it."
He almost stole home, he means, a rare baseball feat Rosario aspires to achieve. It happened when the Twins faced the White Sox at the beginning of May. After a first-inning single, Rosario moved to third on a Mitch Garver single and noticed something unusual about former teammate Hector Santiago on the mound.
"Before he threw to home plate, he was doing this," Rosario said, demonstrating how Santiago would stare at his feet as he took a long pause in the middle of his windup. "I think, 'I have a chance. He's taking a long time,' " Rosario said. "I got a lead, got a good jump. And then I stopped at the last second."
He's sure he'll get another chance, though. Paul Molitor knows he's looking for one. Does he have the manager's green light?
"It would probably be more of an eye contact/head nod," Molitor said. "Either that or he wouldn't [look]. He doesn't want to see the no."
When he's on third, Rosario moves further toward home plate than any other Twin, and if the third baseman isn't near the foul line, Rosario will sometimes stray as much as 30 feet off the base, then fake toward the plate.
"Mostly he's trying to create balks," Molitor said. "But he's ready, he's looking."
That's how Rosario plays: all-out and without fear. Molitor appreciates the style, though he is also trying to help him realize there are more factors to consider whenever he gets the urge to do something daring.
"I talked to him [Monday] night about stealing third [in the eighth inning]. I didn't think it was a good play, and I told him," Molitor said. "He said, 'I had it, guaranteed,' and I said, 'It doesn't matter. Your hitter took a pitch, and now he's [down] 0-2. And it's Miguel Sano. And there's two outs."
Those are the sort of factors Molitor wants the 26-year-old to take into account, intuition that comes with years of playing. But he doesn't want to discourage Rosario's disruptive style of play.
"He's trying to create things, and it doesn't always match up with maybe what's the best thing," Molitor said.
Mauer nearing return
As Joe Mauer's workouts at Target Field have intensified, the Twins have begun considering when to activate him. Mauer stood in as righthander Michael Pineda threw a bullpen session to track his pitches Tuesday, then took ground balls and ran.
"We'll make sure we get Joe's input. That's going to be fairly vital to the discussion," Molitor said. "Those things are beginning, between myself and the training staff and the guys up in Minneapolis," meaning Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Mauer has missed 10 days because of a cervical strain and concussion symptoms that disappeared "three or four days ago," Molitor said.
•Myles Jaye, a nonroster spring training invitee who went 3-3 with a 4.25 ERA for Class AAA Rochester this year, was traded to the Indians in exchange for cash considerations.
•Ervin Santana threw 59 pitches in his second rehab start and recorded 10 outs while allowing one run on two hits, a walk and a hit batter Tuesday for Class A Fort Myers. Santana's fastball was 88-89 miles per hour, well below the 94 mph he regularly reached last year before undergoing finger surgery in February to remove a calcium deposit.