A couple of notes after the Twins’ fourth straight victory (counting the final two games of 2016):
A major-league debut is a memorable occasion, one that players love sharing with their family. Justin Haley’s came with his wife in the Target Field stands on Wednesday, but the day was missing one thing.
“The team got a win, that was awesome. But the down part is that my dad is on a flight right now. He didn’t get to see it,” Haley said. “But my wife is here, and it’s pretty awesome personally.”
Haley, a 25-year-old Rule 5 pick from suburban Sacramento, tried to downplay the event as “just another game.” Paul Molitor presented him after the game with the ball he used to retire the Eric Hosmer, his first big-league hitter. “I gave it to my wife. We’ll see what she does with it,” Haley said. “Maybe just throw it in a bin when we get home.”
On the other hand, maybe he just doesn’t want his dad to know.
“I’m hoping all you guys can keep it quiet,” Haley joked. “Maybe I’ll throw it tomorrow and it can be my debut again.”
Jorge Polanco had a couple of hits and a walk on Opening Day, but was out of the lineup two days later. That had nothing to do with the shortstop’s play, though.
Molitor makes it a point each year to get his bench players involved early in the season, believing it helps keep them sharp after playing regularly during spring training. So Wednesday’s lineup was more about playing Eduardo Escobar than benching Polanco.
“We have a short bench, but you want to incorporate them fairly quickly into a game if you can. You don’t want to go the first 7-10 days with guys, after a long spring, not getting a chance to play,” Molitor said. “I thought today was a good matchup for Esco.”
Just to be safe, though, Molitor met with Polanco to explain the move.
“You have to make sure guys don’t read anything into it,” he said, because ballplayers are constantly looking for ulterior motives. “I’m just giving a guy a chance to play early.”
Robbie Grossman batted second against left-hander Danny Duffy on Monday, but he was dropped to ninth Wednesday with Ian Kennedy, a righthander, on the mound. But it didn’t change Grossman’s approach.
The Twins’ new designated hitter walked twice and struck out three times Monday, and had a similarly low-key day Wednesday: A walk, a while, and yes, he put the ball in play twice, both of them groundouts.
Grossman became just the third designated hitter to bat ninth for the Twins in the last 10 seasons. Danny Santana served as DH from the bottom of the batting order last May 16 against Tampa Bay, and Mike Lamb did it against Milwaukee on June 29, 2008.