Shortstop Danny Santana was on the bench for a second consecutive game Friday as the Twins try to figure out ways to keep his spirits up.
Santana is in the middle of a 1-for-16 skid that has pulled his batting average down to .221. He has walked only twice all season while striking out 47 times. After batting .319 as a rookie last year, he has not been able to make adjustments.
“It’s been challenging,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Part of it is that he is very prideful about his performance, about trying to feel like he is a part of contributing to helping our club win games.”
It’s the second time in less than two weeks Santana has sat back-to-back games; he also sat out the series finale against the White Sox on May 24 and the series opener against the Red Sox at Target Field on May 25.
Molitor said he, hitting coach Tom Brunansky and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez are trying boost his confidence. Molitor said he planned to meet with Santana later on Friday to gauge how the 24-year-old Dominican is dealing with his recent struggles. Santana set the bar high with an impressive 2014, and that could play a role as well.
“We’re trying to encourage him the best we can,” Molitor said.
Molitor said there was nothing meaningful about managing against the Brewers, where he broke in as a player and rocketed to stardom.
“It rekindles a fairly large chapter of my life there, wearing that uniform,” he said.
He understands the history involved and did mention a couple things that stand out to him but, in the end, it was about trying to win a game.
“With the interleague being fairly long in tenure, it might not have quite the same magic but I’m sure we will see a lot of Brewers fans out there tonight, and vice versa when we go down to Milwaukee,” he said.
Molitor said he once thought he could return to the Brewers as a coach or manager, but the more time he spent in player development with the Twins, the less likely that became.
Glad for Counsell
One person Molitor was looking forward to talking to was new Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose father, John, worked in community relations for the Brewers. Molitor remembers a young Craig Counsell in the Brewers clubhouse.
“He was one of those guys where when he had an opportunity to hang with his dad at the ballpark, he was going to be there,” Molitor said. “He was around a lot and went away to Notre Dame, and the next time I saw him he was in the big leagues.
“He’s probably smart enough to serve a lot of roles in this game, but right now he’s settling into the challenge of managing.’ ”
Counsell was hired May 4 after Ron Roenicke was fired.
Lots of shots
The Twins will give Ricky Nolasco a cortisone shot to treat a right ankle impingement that continues to bother him, General Manager Terry Ryan said.
“The opinion is that it is related to an old injury that somehow has become recently inflamed,” Molitor said.
Molitor then was asked how many injections he received during his playing career.
“I think I had over 100,” he said. “They don’t work as well after about 80.”
• Brewers star Ryan Braun did not start Friday after having a procedure done on his right thumb. The Brewers hope Braun, who has 12 home runs, can return before the series ends.
• Brewers lefthander Will Smith, suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on his arm May 21, appealed and had the suspension dropped to six games. He began serving the suspension Friday.