MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is confident: No matter where he puts Luis Arraez in the lineup, the 23-year-old second baseman will hit.
“We’re going to see him hitting at the very top. We’re going to see hitting in the middle,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to see him hitting at the bottom, but regardless of where we put him, he just keeps hitting.”
But Baldelli, for the most part, has resisted the temptation to put Arraez atop the order, despite Arraez posting a .399 on-base percentage last season as a rookie. After all, Max Kepler had a career year last season as the leadoff hitter and hit a home run on the very first pitch of this season.
“We have opted to go with a guy you can look at and say the guy that’s doing damage in the leadoff spot,” Baldelli said. “But you’re comparing him with the guy that had damn near a .400 on-base percentage last year, which gives you two really nice guys to look at for that.”
With Kepler out of the lineup Wednesday, July 29, Baldelli slotted Arraez atop the lineup. Arraez said he doesn’t really talk to Baldelli about where he’s hitting and is happy with wherever he’s put, though he does like leading off.
“I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “I really love hitting first, and I like to fight (in) my at-bats, as everyone knows,” he said. “I just want to get on base so the guys can bring me in.”
After an impressive rookie campaign, Arraez has shown no signs of letting up through the first few games of the 2020 season, going 5 for 12 (.417) in his first three games heading into Wednesday. Hitting .400 in the 60-game season is a goal of his, and though it’s lofty, Arraez is off to a good start.
“He has these types of at-bats that very few players in the big leagues, that they have. His skill set is different,” Baldelli said. “We have a lot of guys that are big and strong and impact the baseball and hit it over the fence, and we need that too, but to have a guy like Louie that goes out there and he gets to different pitches in the zone that other people just can’t get to.”
Stashak settles in
When his coaches called upon him Tuesday night in the seventh inning to protect a three-run lead against the Cardinals, Cody Stashak had one question.
“When they called my name, I was like, ‘Me?’ ” Stashak said.
Stashak has been steadily earning coaches’ confidence over the course of the past year — he debuted for the Twins last July — thanks in part to his impeccable command. In 25 innings across 18 games last season, Stashak struck out 25 batters and allowed just one walk.
Even in a shortened season, Stashak said there was a “very slim” chance he might be able to go an entire year without issuing a walk. But he’s sure going to try.
“I’m going to challenge every hitter I face. I want to make them earn their base. That’s the main thing I hate doing is walking somebody,” Stashak said. “I’d rather give up a hit than a walk, so I’m just going to go in and pound the strike zone, and the results are kind of showing it.”
The Twins debuted their baby blue uniforms Wednesday as part of their 60th season celebration.
Byron Buxton was not in the lineup after starting on Tuesday. Baldelli said they are still ramping him up after he missed time with a sprained foot during summer camp.
Baldelli said Jake Odorizzi, who is on the IL with back soreness, seemed to be in good shape though they do not have a specific date for his return.
The Twins honored their 2019 award winners in a pregame ceremony Wednesday.