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Marwin signing already paying off for Twins

Versatile veteran will fill in at third base during Miguel Sano's absence
@dohyoungpark
March 5, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Miguel Sanó being sidelined until May due to the laceration to his right lower Achilles area leaves a short-term hole for the Twins at third base, but this kind of situation is exactly where free-agent acquisition Marwin Gonzalez helps the Twins' depth.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Miguel Sanó being sidelined until May due to the laceration to his right lower Achilles area leaves a short-term hole for the Twins at third base, but this kind of situation is exactly where free-agent acquisition Marwin Gonzalez helps the Twins' depth.

"We said when we signed Marwin that one of the benefits to having Marwin was, one, he could go play multiple positions and fill in for you if there is an issue at one spot," chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "This is an issue at one spot right now."

In the same mold of how Gonzalez filled in at shortstop for the Astros last summer while starter Carlos Correa was sidelined with a back injury, Gonzalez could fill in as the starter at third base in Sano's extended absence. His positional flexibility would still allow him to substitute elsewhere on defense late in games.

With that in mind, the Twins expect Gonzalez to spend somewhat more time at third base as Spring Training progresses, but manager Rocco Baldelli also doesn't want to hamper the versatile veteran's ability to prepare at other infield positions and in the corner outfield. Gonzalez has made both of his Spring Training starts at third base, though he was originally slated to start Tuesday's 9-2 win over the Rays at second base.

"It's not just where Marwin starts a game," Baldelli said. "Marwin can start a game not playing in that game or not starting that game, and end up affecting that game in a lot of different ways going forward. ... He does change the way that you kind of approach everything that you do. It's a great luxury."

Willians Astudillo has also split time between third base and catcher this spring, and Ehire Adrianza and Ronald Torreyes will also offer the Twins additional options at the hot corner throughout the spring and heading into the season. Sano's injury could open the door for those three, along with Jake Cave and Tyler Austin, who are all fighting for spots on the Twins' regular-season bench.

"You start to think about all of those different scenarios, but we don't have to make those kinds of calls at this point," Baldelli said. "We're going to prepare our players. We have players with versatility, so we're going to prepare them in every possible way so when we get to Opening Day, we're covered in every regard multiple times over."

Baldelli: Don't rule out Astudillo at shortstop

The original lineup for Tuesday's game that was posted in the Twins' clubhouse on Monday afternoon had super-utility extraordinaire Astudillo penciled in as the starting shortstop. The social media universe briefly caught fire before it was revealed that it was all just a mistake. Astudillo ultimately started at third base, with Adrianza at shortstop.

But Baldelli stopped short of ruling out the possibility altogether.

"It was just, yesterday, a miscalculation and a misprint on our part, but that doesn’t mean in the future, the next time, it might not be the case," Baldelli said. "You never know. I’m not implying anything; you just might want to put it out there."

Astudillo appeared at second base and third base last season, along with two outfield positions, catcher and pitcher. Shortstop is the only position that Astudillo has not played in professional baseball, but Baldelli pointed out that in the Twins' infield shifts, the third baseman -- often Astudillo -- is sometimes stationed at the shortstop position.

"You only do that if you believe your players can make all those plays and can handle it, and we firmly believe when we put him over there, he’s going to make all the plays," Baldelli said. "I know he believes he’s going to make all the plays, too."

Twins tidbits

• Gonzalez was a precautionary scratch from the Twins' lineup with right shoulder soreness. He was originally expected to hit third and start at second base. Gonzalez will get some at-bats against Minor League pitching, and Baldelli expects him to return to the lineup soon.

• Though he hasn't played since the first game of Spring Training, Nelson Cruz has been hitting on the back fields and preparing for the regular season at his own pace. Baldelli said that Cruz should be back in the lineup soon after the Twins' off-day on Wednesday.

• Right-hander Jake Odorizzi made his first appearance of the spring, allowing two hits over 2 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

Up next

The Twins have their first scheduled off-day of the spring on Wednesday before right-hander Kohl Stewart takes the mound on Thursday in a 12:05 p.m. CT matchup against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. The game will be carried on ESPN, which will include a ride-along interview with Stewart as he commutes to the ballpark, and in-game interviews with various players.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.