Twins manager Rocco Baldelli plans to give some of his regulars days off this week, as the Twins have reached a stretch in which they will play 26 games in 27 days and 39 in 41.
Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzales were not in the starting lineup on Monday - and more is coming.
"On the homestand basically, we're going to find a way to give most of our guys a day, give them a little time off their feet as well," Baldelli said. "We have good players who don't play on the regular. I'd like to find ways to get them involved, get them at-bats. They are quality players and also are deserving of an opportunity as well. Like Kep, like Marwin, there are going to be days when we look up and see most of our guys with a day on the homestand."
Jake Cave replaced Kepler in right field. Mitch Garver replaced Kepler as the leadoff hitter.
Yes, Mitch Garver. The Twins sure love their leadoff-hitting catchers. Baldelli is going with the hot hand in Garver, who is starting in his third consecutive game.
"On days where we are going to give Max a day, you could move people around and change the lineup up a decent amount," Baldelli said. "Or you could find someone that also has excellent at bats like Mitch. He is kind of a patient guy. He's a guy who has a pretty good approach up there and a good idea of what he's doing. He's also swinging the bat really well for us right now. I think he's comfortable doing it, too, which I think matters as well."
The Twins could have a very productive week if they take care of the two worst teams (on paper) in the AL East in Toronto and Baltimore. It all starts tonight as they open a four-game series against the Blue Jays at Target Field. Then they head to Baltimore for a weekend series.
But this series opens with a tester.
Matt Shoemaker is no slouch, when healthy. The righthander was 16-4 as a rookie in 2014. Then he struggled in 2015, was struck in the head by a line drive in 2016 and needed surgery on his skull. Suffered from forearm problems in 2017 and ended up having surgery to repair a nerve issue.
He was non-tendered after last season and signed with the Blue Jays. He's a split-fingered fastball monster, throwing the pitch 32.7 percent of the time this season. So the Twins have to disciplined and not chase the pitch when it tumbles out of the strike zone.
"It keeps you honest," Baldelli said of the pitch. "It's a pitch that generally keeps you honest. If you are going to cheat against a guy like that, try to jump his fastball, that's probably what he's looking for -- for you to not just wait and see the ball and then react."
Martin Perez will start for the Twins, as the club finally needs a fifth starter. Baldelli said Perez is not on a tight pitch count tonight, so he will remain in the game as long as he is effective.
The Blue Jays are managed by Charlie Montoyo, who was on the same coaching staff with Baldelli. The two are close friends, as in boys, as in dogs. It's a bromance.
"It's fun in some ways," Baldelli said. "It's fun and kind of cool knowing that we're going through some similar things at the same time, and we can talk about pretty much anything, like we always have.
"But we pretty much get into everything. We'll get into some politics, we'll get into what's going on at home, we'll get into a lot of different things. Anytime I get to see him -- I've seen him every day for years and years, and any time I get a chance to spend time around him now during the course of the year, it's very nice."
Billy McKinney, RF
Freddy Galvis, SS
Randal Grichuk, CF
Justin Smoak, 1B
Teoscar Hernandez, LF
Brandon Drury, 3B
Alen Hanson, 2B
Danny Jansen, DH
Luke Malle, C
Matt Shoemaker, RHP
Mitch Garver, C
Jorge Polanco, SS
Nelson Cruz, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
C.J. Cron, 1B
Willians Astudillo, 3B
Jake Cave, RF
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Byron Buxton, CF
Martin Perez, LHP