TORONTO — Paul Molitor called his team together before batting practice to deliver a message: “Show me what you can do.”
The Twins, on a seven-game losing streak as they embark on a six-game road trip against a pair of first-place teams, will need to fight to avoid 100 losses. Molitor wants to make sure the Twins have that fight in them.
“I want to get them focused on where we’re at and what we have left,” the manager said. “I wouldn’t call it a state of the union, but sometimes you have to collectively get perspective.”
Molitor said he isn’t a believer in using the possibility of being a “spoiler” as motivation, because he wants the Twins focused on themselves. While there’s nothing to play for in the standings, he said, there’s plenty to play for in regards to their own future.
“I want them to go out there and let it fly the last five weeks. Show us what you can to,” Molitor said. “This is an important time for some people.”
As for tonight’s game, against former Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano, the Twins will be without first baseman Joe Mauer for a third straight game. Mauer, recovering from sore quads, was feeling good enough to play today, but Molitor chose to hold him back, mindful of what’s ahead. “We’re playing up here on turf over the weekend and [there’s] another lefthander out there tonight,” Molitor said. “Give him a third day today and hopefully he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Speaking of ready to go, Alex Wimmers, the Twins’ first-round draft pick in 2010, is in uniform No. 51 and ready to make his major league debut. He was informed of his call-up during a bus ride last night outside Norfolk, Va., and by almost random chance, happened to have his passport with him. Lucky break.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s first game at Rogers Centre, where the Twins are only 8-23 over the past decade: