The Twins have Monday off, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be watching baseball. The front office has become big fans of Oregon State, which opens the best-of-three championship series against Arkansas at the College World Series in Omaha on Monday night.
The reason? Beavers outfielder Trevor Larnach was the Twins’ first-round pick in the draft June 4. And while they are eager to negotiate a contract and get his pro career started, Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said the team hopes Larnach does so with a championship ring on his finger.
“It’s so great for him,” Falvey said of Larnach, who has 10 hits, including three doubles, over five CWS games. “These are experiences that stay with you for a lifetime.”
As far as Falvey is concerned, Larnach’s experience might help the Twins, too.
“He’s playing in one of the most pressure-packed environments of his life, and it’s going to be a great memory, and maybe will be something he can build off of — learning what it’s like to compete for a title under that pressure,” Falvey said. “Hopefully he’s doing that multiple times over the next decade.”
Falvey said Larnach’s CWS is holding up another couple of signings as the Twins determine how much they have to spend elsewhere; Larnach’s slot value is $3.12 million. But Falvey expects negotiations to go quickly.
The Twins also are making a change in the outfield, announcing that Ryan LaMarre had been sent down to Class AAA Rochester. LaMarre has played a capable center field during Byron Buxton’s injury absence, batting .263 albeit with little power.
But the Twins want “someone to just give us a little different look out there,” Molitor said. He wouldn’t reveal who that might be. It’s possible that Buxton’s rehab assignment could be cut short, though he is only 3-for-14 (.214) in four games at Rochester and Molitor had said the Twins would be patient with his return.
Another option: Jake Cave, who has homered twice in two brief stints with the Twins, and hits lefthanded. The Twins are likely to face six righthanded starters in Chicago this week.
• No batters were hit by pitches Sunday, a day after Texas’ Jurickson Profar was hit three times, the last time apparently in retaliation for stealing second base with the Rangers up 9-2. “The first one, our pitcher got his cleat caught in the dirt, the second one was a borderline strike. With the armor these guys wear, they don’t worry about getting out of the way,” Molitor said. “And the last time, we wanted to give him an opportunity to steal another base.”
• Reliever Alan Busenitz was back Sunday, and said he made some changes that have helped him throw more strikes. “We just changed a mental thought, which is helping stuff stay in the zone longer,” said Busenitz, who recorded 12 straight scoreless outings, 21⅓ innings in all, after being sent back to Rochester in April. “That was the issue when I was here. I couldn’t throw a curveball for a strike.”
• Since the Twins will spend six nights in Chicago, they designated this their the annual “family trip,” with wives and children invited to come along. Nearly 200 passengers are expected to make the flight Monday.