Eduardo Nunez entered Monday as the Twins’ leader in hits, doubles and batting average. He’s second to Joe Mauer in on-base percentage, and second to Byung Ho Park in slugging percentage. He’s been the best hitter on the team this season.
And he’s not certain, at the moment, that he has a job.
Eduardo Escobar reclaimed his spot as the regular shortstop on Monday after being activated from the disabled list. Trevor Plouffe is the regular third baseman, Brian Dozier the second baseman. And that leaves Paul Molitor with a quandary reminiscent of his three-first-basemen challenge: How does he juggle four infielders in three positions?
Nunez “is deserving to get at least somewhat consistent at-bats. He’s played well. He’s been one of our steadiest players,” Molitor said. “The fact that we have other people involved in the middle of the infield, I’m going to have to play with that on a day-to-day basis.”
Nunez came to the Twins with the understanding that he was a utility player, a role he filled well for two seasons. But 2016 has been a breakout year, at least so far, for the 28-year-old, who also leads his team with 11 multi-hit games. His 39 hits, four home runs, 17 RBI and eight stolen bases are already approaching his season totals from his first two years with the Twins.
Molitor found a spot for Nunez on Monday by benching Dozier, who is stuck in a season-long slump that has pulled his batting average down to .199. But it’s difficult to imagine Molitor turning over any of the three infield jobs to Nunez on a permanent basis. So if he wants Nunez’s bat in his lineup — and he does — it means using different lineups on a day-to-day basis, and hoping all involved understand.
“Trying to keep everybody happy is something you’re concerned about, but it’s not the priority. If I have to juggle it around a bit to try to find ways to win games, then that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “I know in today’s game, you’ve got to be a little bit more transparent about your decisions with your players. They kind of want to know where they stand, and I get that, especially guys who are used to playing.”
Bremer taken aback
Broadcaster Dick Bremer was “amazed” that a comment he made to a Fargo radio station — that he had a “confrontation” earlier this month with a Twins player upset over something he said on the air — caused an Internet uproar.
“The player and I immediately resolved things, it was over in about 45 seconds, and as far as I was concerned, the matter was closed when I walked out of the clubhouse that day,” said the longtime Twins TV voice. “Unfortunately, I mentioned it in a radio interview, and I’m amazed that there’s that much news value in it.”
Bremer said he visits the Twins clubhouse every day, in part to allow face-to-face feedback, which he said is not uncommon. “This all worked out the way it should, except that, and it was my own fault, I discussed it publicly,” he said.
• Kansas City will be without left fielder Alex Gordon for three to four weeks after he broke his right wrist in a collision with third baseman Mike Moustakas on Sunday. Moustakas is considered day-to-day.