MINNEAPOLIS — As electrifying as Twins rookie Luis Arraez has been in limited action this season, using a fearless approach at the plate to captivate fans, never has he turned more heads than he did on Tuesday, July 16.
After second baseman Jonathan Schoop appeared to tweak his left oblique swinging at a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning, Arraez entered the game as a pinch hitter to take over an 0-2 count.
What followed from the 22-year-old Arraez was as impressive a plate appearance as anyone in the MLB will put together this season.
He fouled off three straight pitches from Mets closer Edwin Diaz, whose fastball touches 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, before taking two straight balls to even up the count. He followed that up by fouling off a high fastball from Diaz and then taking an inside slider for a ball to work the count full. He finished off the masterful eight-pitch plate appearance by fouling off a slider at the knees before taking a fastball outside to draw a walk.
As soon as he realized it, Arraez pirouetted toward the Twins dugout and shouted toward his teammates, who responded with a massive roar of their own.
“My mentality was to keep fighting and get on base some way, some how,” Arraez said. “I obviously feel very well when things like that happen. I’m getting a chance up here, and I’m making the best of it.”
Less than 12 hours later, Arraez was still the talk of the Twins clubhouse, with manager Rocco Baldelli serving as the biggest hype man of them all.
“I don’t know how many people in the entire world could have the at-bat he had last night,” Baldelli said. “I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here. There are only a few people out there that have the skill set and the general feel in the batter’s box and the ability to do that.”
That said, the more Baldelli filibustered about Arraez, the more it was clear that he’s grown to expect things like this from him.
“He’s had that at-bat against many other pitchers and either gotten a hit or a walk or hit a ball on the barrel or done something else positive,” Baldelli said. “It’s not surprising because he’s done it. before. He continues to do things at a very, very high level.”
Buxton leaves early
After being placed on the Twins’ seven-day injured list Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms, star center fielder Byron Buxton left the ballpark early, inciting some questions about when exactly he would be ready to return to action. He was injured on Saturday when he slammed his head into the ground while making a diving catch against the Cleveland Indians.
“He wants to be here with his teammates,” Baldelli said. “This is a situation where we tell him that going home would probably be the best thing.”
As for the next step in his recovery process, the plan was for Buxton to go through some testing on Wednesday, with an update on his condition to follow.
Asked what he misses most about Buxton when he’s not in the lineup, Baldelli talked at length about the swagger he brings to the team.
“His game has personality,” Baldelli said. “It’s making certain plays and doing certain things. He does those things and we talked about him changing the game. He changes the game in a different way than we see from anybody else.”
Schoop has minor strain
After undergoing some testing Wednesday, Schoop was diagnosed with a mild abdominal strain and is listed as day to day.
“We don’t want to let anything, especially a muscle injury, even if it’s minor, linger around,” Baldelli said. “We want to make sure we nip it in the bud if we can.”