Marwin Gonzalez was back at third base on Tuesday. A day earlier, he made his first ever start, and fifth appearance overall, in right field.
It wasn’t totally smooth, as Gonzalez was charged with an error when he misplayed Mike Trout’s RBI single, allowing Trout to advance to third.
Gonzalez has made one error at third, first and now right field. But there’s no question that he can handle any defensive assignment Twins manager Rocco Baldelli asks of him.
And he had no issue with playing right field Monday.
“This was my first start ever in right field,” he said. “I have played before but less than 10 times in the middle of the game. This is the first error though, thank God. I feel good there.
“Rocco told me in spring training I was going to be a choice against lefties when he had to give [Max] Kepler an off day.
“It’s always fun to learn no matter how good you play the position. There’s always room to get better and that’s my mind-set.”
Gonzalez has made 30 starts at third base while Miguel Sano works his way back from a lacerated heel that knocked him out of spring training. But Sano could be activated early next week, when his 20-day minor league rehabilitation assignment ends. The Twins will go back to their original plan of moving Gonzalez around the field, like an everyday utility player.
“The challenging thing, we talked about this a number of different times with Marwin, even with [Willians] Astudillo and Ehire Adrianza to an extent,” Baldelli said. “You can’t get work at every single position every single day or every other day or even on a weekly basis. It is very challenging to stay locked in and to be able to do it. Sometimes it just comes down to, does the player have the ability to do it, and Marwin obviously can do it. He can do it all.”
The Twins on Tuesday played in 70-plus degree weather for just the third time this season. It was a good day to work on your swing.
As the Twins have done a few times this year, they set up a pitching machine just in front of the pitcher’s mound for early batting practice and turned up the velocity. The machines can be turned up to fire fastballs at 85-90 mph. Since the machine is placed in front of the mound, thus sending pitches from a shorter distance, hitters can face pitching at close to game speed. The Twins try to bring the machine out at least once during a homestand.
On Wednesday, Kepler and Astudillo were among Twins who stepped in against the machine.
“I feel like I’ve been popping a lot of balls up,” said Kepler, who was trying to address a 1-for-14 skid. “So my objective was to stay on top of the hard heaters and see if it pays off.”
Gordon sidelined again
Class AAA Rochester infielder Nick Gordon, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2014, was placed on the injured list because of a left adductor strain. Gordon suffered the strain Sunday while running the bases.
To replace Gordon on the roster, the Twins promoted infielder Luis Arraez from Class AA Pensacola.
Nelson Cruz missed a second consecutive game because of a sore left wrist and remains day-to-day. If Cruz needs a few more days to recover, the Twins could take the safe route and place him on the 10-day injured list. But Baldelli indicated Tuesday that Cruz could be called upon if needed.
“I would expect that if needed, Nelson can help us,” Baldelli said. “I think it’s a situation where probably some rest will be helpful to him. I don’t know how it will play out, to be honest, but I think it’s not a situation where he’s just sitting down for X number of days doing nothing.”