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Gilberto Celestino, who played his 110th game Wednesday, is about a week from surpassing injured Max Kepler as the Twins' most-used outfielder of 2022 — a workload the team never expected to thrust upon the 23-year-old rookie.

So it's not surprising, Rocco Baldelli said, that Celestino doesn't yet possess the veteran savvy necessary to avoid mental mistakes and hasn't yet learned the importance of staying focused under difficult circumstances.

"Those are part of young players' [journey]," the Twins manager said Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. "Learning. Trial and error, figuring things out, making it work."

Which is why, Baldelli said, he benched Celestino in the fourth inning Tuesday, after watching the rookie commit another in a series of recent baserunning blunders — failing to tag up at third base on a fly ball that could have scored him — but especially after watching him get so upset over a called strike that he made himself an easy out, then let the umpire know he was angry.

"He's had a few mental errors recently … another one last night. Can't say I was pleased with that," Baldelli said. "But more the distraction of the last at-bat he had was really what made the point that this was the time to [take action], and the right thing to do."

He said he told the rookie not to look at the benching as punishment, but a chance to make changes.

"I do believe this is an opportunity for him to move past this period of time, this challenging period of time for him, and get into a better place mentally to go play good baseball. This might actually free him up a little bit to kind of face some of these challenges head on," Baldelli said. "Acknowledge that what he did out there was wrong. Ultimately, you want to just be there for your teammates and you don't want to be a distraction to anything going on. I think he's going to note that, and he's going to acknowledge that to the guys he cares about in that room. And after he does that and we move on, it will be good for him."

Celestino "is a likable guy," the manager added, not normally someone with a bad attitude. He's also simply young and overeager.

"Most of his recent development as a ballplayer and as a human being has come as a young guy in the big leagues. Those aren't excuses, those are facts," Baldelli said. "And this has been a period of time where things kind of snowballed on him, and the stresses of everything going on have kind of gotten to him. There are ways that you can react that are more constructive and better than what he chose. But it's something he's going to learn from."

Cautious progress

Ryan Jeffers hit a solo home run in the Class AAA St. Paul Saints' 7-1 loss in Indianapolis on Wednesday, and Trevor Larnach singled and walked in four plate appearances as designated hitter. It's possible — though not certain — that their next at-bats could come in Target Field this weekend.

Baldelli wants to be especially careful with Jeffers, who as a catcher is far more vulnerable to minor injuries than an outfielder such as Larnach. And the fact that both players underwent surgery as part of their recovery — Jeffers to set the broken bone in his right thumb, Larnach to repair the bilateral muscle in his abdomen — raises the need for caution, too.

"What Jeffers is coming back from, we needed to make sure we're not bringing him back [too early]," Baldelli said. "We need to make sure the healing process is completely finished and that he's fully built up strength-wise."

As for Larnach, who hasn't played with the Twins since June 23 and is 5-for-17 in five rehab games with the Saints, "I'm a little less worried about activating [him], based on what he's coming back from, even though it was somewhat invasive," the manager said.


  • The Angels have confirmed that Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, will make his Target Field pitching debut on Friday, the first of a three-game series.

The Star Tribune did not travel for this event. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the event.