BALTIMORE — Injuries have shuffled the Twins' lineup at nearly every position over the past month. Every position but Nick Gordon's, anyway.
That's why the rookie infielder, the primary backup to second baseman Jorge Polanco, has appeared in only two games in his latest two-week stint in the majors.
"It's hard when, yeah, at a time when we've been kind of beat up, Jorge Polanco has played a lot," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We've got to keep as many of our regular guys out there, keep them going in the best possible way, and Jorge's kept himself going. That's been tough for Nick."
Actually, it hasn't, Gordon said. He'd like to play more, of course, but "I'm learning a lot. I haven't even gotten a chance to go to every ball field or every city, things like that," he said. "I'm still taking a lot in. I definitely learn a lot from the guys I'm around. For me, it's just a blessing to be here."
Baldelli has an idea how Gordon might stay here, too. With injuries wiping out the Twins' outfield depth, the manager has asked Gordon to take some fly balls in the outfield, just in case, figuring that his speed makes him a natural fit. And while he's at it, maybe he could explore third base, too, since Willians Astudillo is serving as a backup at that position but at catcher and first base as well.
"I know for the most part in his career he's played second base, he's played some shortstop, but being able to move around the field will give him a really good opportunity to get at-bats and just get on the field [more]," Baldelli said. "It's not necessarily something you normally do at the big-league level as a young player, while you're not getting regular at-bats. But whether he's in the big leagues or not, him focusing on some versatility and gaining comfort around the field will be key."
It's a pivot that Gordon's older brother, Dee Strange-Gordon, made once, too. A middle infielder during his early career with the Dodgers and Marlins, Strange-Gordon played center field in 53 games for the Mariners in 2018.
It's not ideal, but the 25-year-old rookie sounds willing. He spent time in the outfield during batting practice in Baltimore, catching fly balls and getting used to the idea.
"I ran out, got familiar with the position, ran around. Saw how the ball looks off the bat, learned how to track it," said Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft. "I think they know I'm willing."
As for third base, Gordon is already an All-Star — sort of. He has played the position only once, in the Florida State League all-star game in 2016.
"I wouldn't say I fell in love with it, but I didn't dislike it," Gordon said. "Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. I want to get in the game, get in the lineup, help contribute to winning ballgames. I've never been a selfish player, I know it's not about me. I'm definitely here to do what the team needs. If they ask me to learn to catch, I'll do it."