SEATTLE -- I asked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after Monday's 5-4 victory over the Mariners if he'd consider starting Michael Cuddyer at second base again tonight.
"We’ll see," Gardenhire said. "We’ve got another infielder [Matt Tolbert] coming, and they’ve got a lefthander [Jason Vargas] going, so that makes it different."
What needs to be understood about Monday's Cuddyer experiment is the Twins had limited options. Orlando Hudson was in Minnesota, getting his left wrist examined. Alexi Casilla's elbow was bothering him, and he went on the DL after the game.
So Gardenhire's choices were starting Nick Punto at second base, with Brendan Harris at third. Or leaving Punto at third and giving Cuddyer a chance at second base. By putting Cuddyer at second, it allowed the Twins to have Jim Thome in the lineup at DH, with Delmon Young and Jason Kubel in the corner outfield spots.
Gardenhire, or any manager, also likes to have a player available off the bench who can fill multiple spots in an emergency. Harris, who is batting .170, was given that role.
The equation changes tonight. Against a lefthander, the Twins are less determined to get Thome's bat in the lineup. He is batting .214 with a .624 OPS against lefties, compared to .246 with a .937 OPS against righties.
The Twins will have more infield options with Tolbert replacing Casilla, assuming Tolbert gets here in time for the game. Tolbert or Harris could get a start, and the other would be available off the bench. Eventually, the Twins need Harris to get rolling, which is why this might be a good spot for him. Though he has struggled against lefties and righties this year, he batted .302 against lefthanders last year.
Stay tuned. I'll have the starting lineups later today from Safeco Field, and an update on Hudson's status.