The Twins started June with a 10-game road trip to the West Coast. They had won two of three in Anaheim and were playing the Sunday game. It was 1-1 in the fourth inning and Eddie Rosario was at the plate with runners on first and third.
Rosario was ahead in the count and then swung at a neck-high pitch. He wound up striking out, then struck out twice more. The Twins rallied to win, but it was soon apparent that Eddie had again frustrated manager Paul Molitor with his wild swinging.
There was an off day and Rosario wasn’t in the lineup when a series opened in Seattle. He was on the bench twice more on the road trip, and then was out of the lineup again Monday when the Twins returned home to play Seattle.
Rosario is not what you could call a guy with an easy smile, at least not when the media is circulating in a Twins clubhouse in Minneapolis or Fort Myers. And it’s guaranteed that Eddie was not smiling over Molitor’s preference for others occupying his place in the outfield.
“Yeah, I don’t feel so good when not playing,’’ Rosario said.
Rosario’s inactivity had been self-induced. Eddie’s willingness to chase pitches had him at .297 on-base percentage, compared with Robbie Grossman at .431.
Thus, when the manager is in San Francisco without a DH, or if he wants to play the recalled Kennys Vargas, Molitor is willing to go with Grossman’s cumbersome fielding over Rosario’s athletic excellence in order to have one more baserunner per night on average.
Rosario was in the lineup for the fourth time in eight games Tuesday night, and it was not with maximum dignity. Molitor had him batting ninth for the eighth time in 51 starts.
Eddie had more embers glowing than a Weber kettle when he came to the plate in the second inning. Kyle Gibson had gotten off to a brutal start, giving up three runs in the time he had gotten three outs.
The Twins rallied against Seattle starter Christian Bergman in their second. Bergman had an amazing screw-up to allow a second run — fielding a comebacker and tossing to first as Vargas lumbered home from third.
That might have been weighing on Bergman’s pitching mind. He immediately came with a fastball and Rosario turned it into a two-run homer and a 4-3 Twins lead.
The Twins then pummeled Bergman and turned the third into a seven-run inning. Reliever Casey Lawrence arrived, started Rosario with another fastball, and Eddie homered again, this time the other way to the bullpen.
Two pitches, two home runs, four RBI, and a 1.000 on-base percentage.
The Twins were leading 19-6 in the eighth inning when Rosario again came to the plate. He hit a mighty home run into the second deck in faraway right-center. The pitch was reported as being an 82-miles-per-hour changeup.
Maybe not. The pitcher by then was Carlos Ruiz, Seattle’s backup catcher, and there’s a good chance it was Ruiz’ fastball. That made Rosario the seventh hitter with three home runs in a game in the Twins’ 57 years in Minnesota.
“Rosie is still learning even after how many years … he’s still kind of learning what kind of hitter he is at this level,’’ Molitor said. “He’s got gap power. He can go the other way; hit one over there tonight. He can run the bases.’’
All that sounds good, but …
“We’re still trying to prod him to let the game come to him. He’s an aggressive guy and forces it at times. When he gets good pitches to hit, he can do damage.’’
Whatever the frustrations with the low on-base percentage, it’s tough to give up on a 25-year-old with Rosario’s swing, speed, fielding and throwing.
“He’s got great hands,’’ Molitor said. “He sets ’em low. Not many people can hit from down there, but he can, with those hands.’’
Rosario said he expected a big game when he arrived at Target Field on Tuesday. “I felt special all day,’’ he said. “My family was here tonight. And the heat … I always like to play when it’s hot.’’
Molitor has been the gentleman ultimately in charge of having Rosario out of the lineup more often in recent times. The manager smiled slightly about that and said:
“He made a bit of a statement tonight. He’s been out of there a few days, and came with vengeance today.’’
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org