TORONTO – In the minor leagues, the emphasis is on confronting and eliminating weaknesses. In the majors, there’s not much opportunity for such things.
That’s why Jake Cave knows he might not play much in the next few days.
Cave has proven to be an effective hitter thus far in his two-month-old major-league career — against righthanders. He’s batting .309, and is slugging an impressive .529, in 72 plate appearances against righties. But put a lefthander on the mound? The average slides to .200, and he has nine strikeouts and one walk, albeit in just 16 plate appearances.
“I try to have the best lineup on a day-to-day basis,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I’m sure [Cave] has never really had to deal with platooning much along the way. But I’m going to try to keep Robbie [Grossman] in the mix the best I can.”
Cave understands, and the rookie isn’t complaining. But he believes he showed real progress against lefthanders at Class AAA Rochester during the season’s first two months, hitting .296 with a .391 on-base percentage, and wishes he could build on that success now that he’s with the Twins.
“That part’s a little bit tough. When you don’t see them much, it’s harder [to succeed] when you do get a chance,” Cave said. “I’ve had a couple of moments. I homered and doubled off [Cubs’ All-Star lefthander] Jon Lester. I know I can show them more than I have.”
For now, though, he mostly sits against lefties — and that’s going to make for a quiet week. The Blue Jays will start left-handed rookie Ryan Borucki on Tuesday, and the Red Sox are likely to start at least two and possibly three lefties this weekend.
“I know he wants to play every day. He’s played well for the most part,” Molitor said. “I’ll try to find him a day to try to get a chance to swing against a lefty.”
Pineda takes small step
One year, one month and one day after his last appearance in a professional baseball game, Michael Pineda will face hitters again Aug. 6, Molitor said Monday. Those hitters will be teenage rookies, and Pineda will only throw two innings, but it’s still a significant step — and an exciting one for the Twins, Molitor said.
“I watched him pitch at home in a simulated [game]. He’s a big man, and the ball comes out of his hand” easily, Molitor said of the righthander, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last July. “It looks really good, considering where he’s at and what could be down the road. It’s been steady progress for him.”
Pineda, the former Yankee who signed a two-year contract with the Twins before the season, will pitch for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League team, and will continue an every-third-day pattern or now. He’s still on track to make a couple of appearances for the Twins in September, Molitor said.
“It would be good if he did,” Molitor said. “I think it would be good for him, too, with all the work he’s put in.”
• The Blue Jays held a moment of silence before the national anthems on Monday in solidarity with the Danforth, a Toronto neighborhood where a gunman shot 15 people in a busy commercial area Sunday night, killing a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman.
• Addison Reed will throw 20-25 pitches to a couple of Twins hitters before batting practice Tuesday, perhaps the final step before being activated from the disabled list. Reed, out since July 11 because of a right triceps strain, has thrown well in two bullpen sessions over the past week. “I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s another good day like the last two have been,” Molitor said, “and we can think about what day he’ll join us.”