SAN FRANCISCO – Chris Gimenez saw the sign but doubted it. He needed to hear the words.
"They gave me the green light, and I did a double-take," Gimenez said of his fifth-inning single. First base coach Jeff Smith "looked at me and said into my ear, 'Yeah, you've got the green light.' I thought, 'All right then, I might as well try to go.'"
You can understand his shock. Gimenez is a 34-year-old catcher with three career stolen bases. But the Twins know Giants starter Jeff Samardzija well from his days with the White Sox and A's and had scouted his slow motion.
Gimenez took off on a 2-2 pitch that was fouled away and, after a pickoff attempt, almost went on the next pitch. On 3-2, he saw his chance again. "I think they said he was 1.7 [seconds from windup to release]," Gimenez said. "I can get there off a 1.7."
It was just fun, he said: "I've been waiting a long time to go again."
His last two stolen bases came in the same game, Aug. 4, 2015. The catcher he victimized twice? Jason Castro.
Exhausted but elated
Nik Turley looked a little dazed Saturday morning, or just exhausted, as he walked into the Twins' clubhouse. The lefthander had just taken a dawn flight across the country to join a team of players he mostly has never met.
Not that he minds.
"I wouldn't care where it was," Turley said. "It's a special moment."
That's because, after being selected with the 1,502nd pick in the 2008 draft, after pitching for 11 different minor league teams and even an independent league club, after being cut loose by three major league organizations, the 27-year-old lefthander will face the Giants in the first major league game of his life.
"It's hard to believe. This is everyone's goal," Turley said. "I've always believed in myself. I've had a lot of people believing in me. My family, my wife — she's been through a lot."
She'll be in the AT&T stands on Sunday to watch him pitch for the Twins, who signed him merely as Class AA pitching depth last winter. But by changing some grips on his breaking pitches and finding new command of his fastball, Turley turned into a strikeout machine this season, whiffing 84 hitters in just 52 innings at Rochester and Chattanooga.
"Everybody enjoys these stories. I don't think he was really on anybody's radar, but it's a good find for us, obviously."
•The Twins made room for Turley by optioning lefthanded reliever Randy Rosario back to AA Chattanooga. Rosario allowed eight runs in 2⅓ innings over two games, for a 30.86 ERA. Another move must be made Sunday to put Turley on the 40-man roster.
For the kids
Justin Morneau will be back at Target Field on Friday, and for a good cause. The 2006 AL Most Valuable Player has signed on for the second annual Mauer and Friends Kids Classic, in which patients from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, which treats kids with disabilities and rare illnesses, interact with professional athletes.
"We've invited 25 patients and their families out on the field to try different activities — take slapshots with [Minnesota wild center] Zach Parise, play tee ball with Mornie and Torii Hunter, throw a football around with [Vikings linebacker] Chad Greenway and [tight end] Kyle Rudolph, things like that," Mauer said."
Fans can take part in the event, to be held Friday morning and early afternoon, by bidding on items such as autographed jerseys, beginning Friday, at auctions.mlb.com.