FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today is “flexibility” day for Paul Molitor. Like all managers, Molitor wishes each of his players could play all nine positions on the diamond, for maximum flexibility, but he’s willing to settle for two or three positions. So today’s Twins lineup against the visiting Marlins features five players trotting out to a different spots than the last time they played.
Drew Stubbs, a center fielder on Saturday, is in left field. Danny Santana, who has played right field and second base so far, is in center. Eduardo Escobar has played shortstop and Ahire Adrianza second base; today, they both will move one position to their right. It’s Adrianza’s first start at shortstop, though he finished the game there on Sunday. And J.B. Shuck moves over to right field, after trying left and center.
Most important, today is Ervin Santana’s spring debut, the first chance to take a look at the Twins’ Opening Day starter. Santana told me Saturday that he’s ready for the season to start right now, that today’s 30-pitch limit isn’t necessary. “I’ve been throwing for a month already,” he said. “Feeling really good.”
There aren’t many recognizable names in the lineup he’ll face today. With the World Baseball Classic approaching, MLB has loosened the guidelines that required visiting teams to bring a representative number of veterans on the road. Both the Nationals (on Sunday) and the Marlins had to take 2 1/2 hour bus rides to reach Hammond Stadium, a chore that no veterans were asked to shoulder.
No radio or TV coverage today, giving you time to read the stories in this morning’s paper. I wrote about J.T. Chargois’ determination to forget his MLB debut ever happened, and about Mike Quade’s terrifying traffic accident, and his gratitude to a quartet of players who rushed to his aid. La Velle Neal wrote about Trevor May’s desire to rejoin the Twins’ rotation and the first step he took on Sunday; he also notes that Jose Berrios is hurrying to get ready for the WBC.
Here are the lineups for the noon (CT) game:
D. Santana CF
E. Santana RHP