CLEVELAND – It was just a few days ago that Eddie Rosario was a left fielder and Max Kepler a right fielder. But, recently, the Twins have moved them to other outfield spots.
Rosario has played in right field and Kepler in center during this homestand. Jake Cave, who has played mostly in center, has played in left field. Reserve Johnny Field also has played all three outfield spots in his career.
So the Twins, in the coming weeks, plan to keep moving their outfielders around so they will be prepared for any situation.
“We’ve got outfielders who can play all positions,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We were settled for a while there with Jake in center and Kep and Rosie and we’re just giving them a chance to see the game from a different perspective.”
Kepler on Thursday made his 30th start in center. He filled in there when Byron Buxton was injured and before Cave was called up from the minors. Rosario also has experience in center field and will likely get a couple of starts there as well.
“I would anticipate that’s probably coming,” said Jeff Pickler, Twins coordinator of major league development. “Eddie probably gets off the ball as good as anyone on our team.”
The position changes probably wouldn’t be as much of an option if Buxton were healthy and manning center. But since the opportunity presents itself — it doesn’t hurt to have options if Buxton fails to find his offense — the Twins are taking advantage.
“We’ve seen how versatility has become way more valuable in the game,” Pickler said. “You look around at what other teams are doing, finding positional value in players.”
Rooker walks, slugs
Twins outfield prospect Brent Rooker is having an interesting season at Class AA Chattanooga.
Rooker’s ticket to the majors is his power bat and, like many power hitters, his strikeout totals will be high. But his walk rate has changed dramatically.
Rooker drew just two walks in 24 games in April, eight in 25 games in May and a total of 24 walks through 84 games.
Since then, it’s like a switch has flipped for the 35th overall pick in 2017. Rooker has drawn 25 walks in his past 29 games, heading into play Thursday.
“He has done a great job not missing pitches he should be doing damage on,” said Jeremy Zoll, Twins director of minor league operations. “In turn, this has led to opponents pitching him more carefully, and as he has gotten locked in, it’s easier for him to lay off of those pitches.”
Rooker is batting .267 with 21 homers, 71 RBI, 55 extra-base hits, a .341 on base percentage and .497 slugging percentage. He’s ranked as the Twins’ No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline
Lefthander Adalberto Mejia, following tests on Thursday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, has been diagnosed with nerve irritation in his left arm. He has been shut down for the time being, and the chances of him pitching again this season are remote.
Mejia was injured on Aug. 7 against Cleveland, a game the Twins won 3-2. He felt discomfort throwing his final pitch of the fifth inning.
All lefties for Tigers
The Tigers on Friday will call up lefthander Ryan Carpenter to start against the Twins on Saturday. That means Detroit will start a lefty in every game of this four-game series.
“I don’t know the last time a team had a four-game series and four lefties started,” Molitor said. “Against or for.”
Consequently, Molitor plans to sit one of his lefthanded hitters — Cave, Joe Mauer, Kepler or Rosario — at least once this series. On Thursday, Rosario was out.