SS Santana capably holds fort down in center, for now
The Sports Xchange
MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - INSIDE PITCH
Ron Gardenhire remains committed to supporting Santana as he develops as an outfielder but he also plans to use Santana at his natural position at shortstop.
Santana has flashed all the tools of a capable center fielder despite limited time at the position. After going 1-for-4 with a double batting leadoff in Tuesday night's 10-4 loss to the Astros, Santana is hitting .320/.360/.476 while doing everything asked of him between the lines and in the clubhouse.
"Ultimately, we see him as a shortstop," Gardenhire said. "We've talked about that the past couple weeks getting him out there (at shortstop). (Outfielder Jordan) Schafer, picking him up (off waivers) is going to help.
"(Eduardo) Escobar is playing so well (at shortstop) I don't want to move him. And Santana is playing in center field so well, but I know I have to get some reps at shortstop for him," Gardenhire said. "So we're still trying to figure out things and how it's all going to play out. We want to get people in the right places."
Gardenhire has instructed Santana to take grounders at short in preparation for playing there during the Twins' upcoming home stand. As good as Santana has been in center, regarded prospects Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton are the center fielders of the future for the Twins.
"He can play out there. He can really play," Gardenhire said. "Fortunately for us, we have a couple center fielders, Hicks and Buxton, who are really, really good players. You start looking where everybody is going to go and we all know the plan is for those two somewhere. But this guy is proven."
MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
NEXT: Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson, 10-9, 4.13 ERA) at Astros (LHP Brett Oberholtzer, 4-7, 4.05 ERA).
--RHP Ricky Nolasco is slated for reinstatement from the 15-day disabled list and should start on Friday against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Nolasco was placed on the DL with right elbow soreness on July 8 (retro to July 7). He made his second of two rehab starts on Sunday for Single A Cedar Rapids, allowing three runs on eight hits with no walks over 5 2/3 innings. Nolasco will be on a pitch count of 80-85 pitches on Friday.
--1B Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a first-inning single to right field in Tuesday's loss. This marks his longest hitting streak since April 30 through May 18, 2013, when he hit safely in 15 consecutive games. His streak is the longest by a Minnesota player this season and is the longest active hitting streak in the American League.
--RF Oswaldo Arcia recorded his first career multihome run game, belting his ninth this season off Astros RHP Collin McHugh in the second inning and his 10th off Astros RHP Mike Foltynewicz with one on in the ninth. Arcia finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, producing the Twins' second multihomer game this season. Brian Dozier accomplished the feat on July 13 at Colorado.
--RHP Yohan Pino allowed a season-high seven earned runs on seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday night. Pino had allowed a total of seven runs in his two previous starts combined, and three home runs combined over his prior four appearances. The Astros struck for three homers against Pino, including two by DH Chris Carter.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "A couple of kids put the ball in the seats, but we just didn't pitch well enough. They made us pay every time we made a bad pitch in some bad situations." -- Manager Ron Gardenhire, on the Twins' inability to get crucial outs in a lost Tuesday to the Astros.