I was standing in the hallway outside the Twins clubhouse this morning when today’s lineup was posted. Eduardo Nunez was standing in the doorway, so as I looked at the card, I said loud enough for him to hear, “Nunez? Again?”
The Twins’ utility infielder laughed and said, “I know, right? It’s weird.”
It was funny, but it’s not weird at all, not when Nunez is 7-for-9 on the season and 7-for-7 when he’s in the starting lineup, having reached base in all nine plate appearances. On a team with only two other players hitting more than .200, you can’t blame Paul Molitor for wanting his hottest hitter getting regular at-bats.
The weird part might be who he’s playing for. After giving Brian Dozier a night off last night, and playing in Trevor Plouffe’s place last Sunday, Nunez is at shortstop today, moving Eduardo Escobar — who’s batting .289 with a team-high four doubles — to the bench. Escobar hasn’t had a day off yet, and while it’s not statistically significant, he’s also 0-for-3 against Angels starter Jared Weaver, so it seemed like a good opportunity to make the switch.
Byron Buxton remains sidelined by his bruised left hand, but he took regular batting practice this morning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in the lineup tomorrow. For now, Oswaldo Arcia, 0-for-8 so far this season, is playing again in left field, with Eddie Rosario moving to center in Buxton’s place.
The mood was noticeably, understandably lighter in the clubhouse today, with much of the pressure of their 0-9 start relieved. Ricky Nolasco makes his second start of the season in the 1:10 p.m. game.
Both teams made roster moves this morning, with the Twins recalling Ryan O’Rourke from Rochester to replace Fernando Abad for the weekend, while he’s on bereavement leave. The Angels brought up outfielder Rafael Ortega from Salt Lake City and put him in today’s lineup in left field; Daniel Nava, who made the final out last night, is on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left knee.
Here are the lineups for today, with Nunez leading off once again: