FORT MYERS, FLA. – On Saturday, Kennys Vargas was 2-for-5 with a home run for Puerto Rico in a victory over Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He has played in only two of a possible six games in the WBC, and the time away from the Twins might cost him a chance to make the Opening Day roster.
Vargas was supposed to see action against lefthanded pitching, but Puerto Rico hasn’t faced much of that.
“I’m sure it has been tricky to get him at-bats,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “They are trying to win.”
Now it’s going to be tricky for Vargas to win a job with the Twins. Puerto Rico plays the Netherlands on Monday night in Los Angeles with a chance to reach the championship Wednesday. Molitor said there is still time for Vargas to win a spot on the roster if he can be available the final week and a half of the Grapefruit League schedule once the WBC ends.
“I don’t know if disappointed is the right word for it,” Molitor said. “It concerns me some that he hasn’t had a lot of live pitching opportunities.”
Meanwhile, ByungHo Park has batted .387 with three home runs and looks like the man to beat as the Twins designated hitter.
Jay to bullpen
The Twins have decided to move Tyler Jay, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, to the bullpen.
Brad Steil, Twins director of minor league operations, said there were a few reasons for the move, one being that Jay can impact the Twins bullpen sooner than he could be stretched out to be a starter.
Jay was predominantly a starter in college at Illinois and has not pitched more than 85 innings in a season for four years. He was 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA at Class A Fort Myers last season before being promoted to Class AA Chattanooga, where he was 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA in five games, including two starts.
Robbie Grossman left Sunday’s 13-8 victory over Boston in the first inning because of a tight right hamstring and is considered day-to-day. “He felt it while he was diving [after a ball], and it kept tightening up on him,” Molitor said. Grossman was replaced by J.B. Shuck.
Outfielder Max Kepler, who suffered a cut on his right pinkie Saturday when it was stepped on by Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, went through a full practice Sunday and is expected to play Monday in Dunedin against Toronto.
• Righthander Michael Tonkin, coming off a strong outing Thursday, gave up a home run to Bryce Brentz in the ninth inning Sunday. Tonkin got ahead 0-2 before running the count full.
• Lefthander Craig Breslow’s two walks Sunday came against lefthanded hitters, which can’t happen. One of the hitters came around to score. “You don’t want to see that, obviously,” Molitor said.
Righthander Tyler Duffey starts as the Twins head to Dunedin to face the Blue Jays. Lefthander Adalberto Mejia, also in the running for a rotation spot, will follow him. Former Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano will be on the mound for Toronto.
La Velle E. Neal III