ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The crazy thing is, it’s possible that Twins fans may not get to see Luis Arraez at Target Field, at least not soon.
The Twins’ rookie infielder is with the team on a temporary basis, a weeklong vacation from his Triple-A team while Nelson Cruz’s sore wrist heals. Cruz is eligible to be activated on Friday, and Arraez is supposed to be headed back to Rochester.
That’s the plan anyway. But Arraez has established himself as a major leaguer in record time. He’s played four games — didn’t enter his debut until the fifth inning, actually — and smacked a hit or two or three in each one. He’s drawn a couple of walks, too, giving him a .583/.643/.917 start to his career. That’s a 1.560 OPS that doesn’t exactly scream “send me back.”
“He can hit,” said an impressed teammate, Marwin Gonzalez. “I saw yesterday that he had a career average of .330 in the minors [actually .331, Marwin]. I mean, you have to be really good to do that. … He’s capable of doing good things.”
Even hitting home runs — and that’s a surprise. Arraez is a line-drive hitter who only homered six times in 354 games in the minors. Yet when he saw a 3-2 changeup from Noe Ramirez in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 8-3 victory over the Angels, he hit an especially hard line drive, one that clear the scoreboard in right field, near where Miguel Sano’s homer landed a day earlier.
“Yeah, I was excited,” said Arraez, who raised his arm in triumph as he rounded first base. “ Obviously because it was my first homer in the big leagues, and also it was the pitch I was looking for. I was able to connect very well.”
That gave Arraez seven hits in his first four games. Only two Twins rookies have ever had more: Josmil Pinto in 2013, and Kirby Puckett in 1984.
“He’s obviously been fantastic in so many ways in his stay up here. In the field, too, wherever we put him, he makes the plays,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of the infielder, who made a great catch and throw on Tommy La Stella’s hot smash to record the game’s final out. “He’s a good, well-rounded, smart ballplayer. On top of that, he hits the ball on the barrel a lot, too, so that’s nice.”
So after watching all that, can a manager really stick to the plan and say goodbye to such a terrific looking rookie in a couple of days? Baldelli considered the question, then deflected.
“Luis couldn’t be playing any better or helping us any more or having any more positive effect on our team than he is,” he said. “We’re going to ride this out and I’m sure we’ll see him out there getting some more at-bats at some point while he’s here.”