Jorge Polanco is not in the lineup today as the Twins try to win the rubber game against Houston - and he could probably could use a little break.
Polanco is in a run in which both his hitting and fielding have taken a downturn. At the plate, he's batting .123 over his last 18 games. It has pulled his season average down to .222. Polanco entered the season a career .286 hitter in the minors and .284 in the majors.
Manager Paul Molitor said one of the coaches wondered if Polanco is overreacting because his average has never been so low. He's not taking quality at bats and it looks like he's trying to lift everything. Polanco is getting a look at short because of his offensive potential, but he's in a major funk right now.
"He is having a tough time," Molitor said. "The things that I think are his strengths are not showing up right now. Strike zone discipline. More consistent contact both sides of the plate. He's trying to really hard to get hits. I think it's an uncomfortable position for him to be, not where he wants to be in terms of average.
"He's not letting the game come particularly well right now."
Polanco committed an error on Friday, his sixth in 18 games after committing just four in his first 53. He did make a nice play yesterday when he went into short center field after a grounder and threw to second for a nifty force play. Polanco's defensive ranking is 17th among shortstops, according to fangraphs.
I asked Polanco if he's more worried about his glove and his bat. He immediately said, "Bat!" He likes to hit but it's not working for him right now. And I wonder if he's taking it out to the field.
Ehire Adrianza is at short today for Polanco.
The first bus to the ballpark was at 8:30 this morning, and many players were on it. That included Joe Mauer who went in and told Molitor that he could play today. Molitor decided against it. After missing 10 days because of a back issue, it didn't make sense to Molitor to play Mauer in a day game after a night game.
"I just decided that I was going to back him off," Molitor said. "He's available off the bench today."
It promises to be an interesting Sunday.
The Twins have a chance to take two of three against the Astros. A lot of it will be up to Kyle Gibson, who gave up seven runs in his last outing. The Twins could win a series here for the first time since 2014.
With Cleveland and Kansas City losing last night, the AL Central remains relatively compact at the top. A hot streak by the Twins, Indains or Royals right now would make a big differece.
The Yankees, meanwhile, play a doubleheader today after playing 16 innings last night. So they are going through what the Twins did during the first half. And they have no idea who is going to start for them tomorrow night in the first of three games at Target Field. If Bryan Mitchell isn't used as the 26th man today, he could face the Twins tomorrow night. Technically, he would have to sent back after the game, then called up.
Some quick hits:
Molitor read the report on Dillon Gee's seven shutout innings for Class AAA Rochester last night. Gee, he said, had one stretch in which he lost his command for 10-12 pitches, but was otherwise sharp. Gee looms as an option if the Twins need a starter.
Justin Haley, on the rehab trail following right biceps tendonitis, has a 2.08 ERA at Rochester in four games, including three starts. Molitor wouldn't mind having a long reliever in the bullpen, and Haley could serve in that role once he's activated from the DL.
Molitor is not sure if Phil Hughes could be an innings eater. Hughes' problem as a starter is that he would lose feeling in his hand the more he pitched. So they are sticking with one to two innings an outing for Hughes at the moment.
The Twins will determine a plan for Hector Santiago to get stretched out once they return to the Twins Cities. Santiago is on the DL with upper thoracic back pain but is about ready to face some hitters.
First base coach Jeff Smith will gladly give up No. 40 for Bartolo Colon to wear when he officially joins the Twins on Tuesday. Smith will switch to No. 37.
Brian Dozier, 2B
Robbie Grossman, LF
Miguel Sano, DH
Max Kepler, RF
Kennys Vargas, 1B
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Eddie Rosario, CF
Chris Gimenez, C
Ehire Adrianza, SS
Kyle Gibson, RHP
George Springer, DH
Jose Altuve, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Brian McCann, C
Yuli Gurriel, 1B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS
Alex Bregman, 3B
Norichika Aoki, LF
Jake Marisnick, CF
Mike Fiers, RHP