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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Luis Arraez lay on the stretcher that hung in the back of the small medical plane two weeks ago, folded his arms, closed his eyes, and repeated his mantra, over and over.

"I need to get home. I need to get home," Arraez said he kept telling himself. "Luckily, I went to sleep."

When he woke up, he, Dylan Bundy and Rocco Baldelli were home from Baltimore and what Arraez said was an awful three-day quarantine for COVID-19.

"I was sick. I just wanted to stay in my bed," the 25-year-old Venezuelan said. "I wake up every day, do my [workout] routine, and then back to bed."

Now he's fully healthy again — as opposing pitchers have discovered. Before going 0-for-3 Friday, he had been 9-for-23 (.391) with three doubles in seven games since returning. Even better, he drew seven walks, giving him a .548 on-base percentage in that time, and struck out only once.

"It's hard to be a much better spray, line-drive-type hitter than he was the day he showed up," said Baldelli, the Twins manager. "But he is an adjustment-making guy naturally. There are teams that have pitched him [inside] very heavily, and that goes away from what he wants to do. But he seems to find a way, and that's what good ballplayers do."

Now in his fourth season, Arraez said he's noticed one advantage that he didn't used to have: the respect of umpires for his strike-zone judgment.

"One hundred percent, yes. They see what I see," he said. "If it's 3-2 and the ball is close, I have to swing. But the close ones, it's better."

More options at first

Nick Gordon spent batting practice on Friday taking ground balls, as usual. What was unusual was where.

"They said to take a few ground balls at first base, get some work in over there," Gordon said of Twins coaches. "Be ready everywhere, always. That's the job."

It could be his job, at least occasionally, before long. Trevor Larnach is expected to rejoin the Twins this weekend after two rehab games at Class AA Wichita, and the likeliest candidate to give up his roster spot is rookie Jose Miranda, who entered Friday hitting just .094.

Trouble is, with Alex Kirilloff at Class AAA St. Paul and Miguel Sano on the 60-day injured list, the Twins will be left with no experienced first basemen. Arraez has made a dozen starts at the position, but this is the first season he's ever tried it.

Which explains Gordon's presence at the position Friday, though he has no more experience than Arraez. He believes he's up to it, but "I don't think any position is easy. Every position has its own kinks, different angles, spin on the ball, things like that," he said.

Gordon and Arraez both bat lefthanded, too. The most natural righthanded fit for the position is third baseman Gio Urshela, who has never started a major league game at first base, but "I played some [seven games] at Triple-A in 2018, and a lot in winter ball," he said. "I'm comfortable over there. I like it. It feels good over there. They haven't asked me to work there, but I can."


  • Byron Buxton was featured on a long segment on MLB Network's "MLB Central" on Friday, a biography that meant the normally private center fielder to be followed around by a camera crew for two days last week. "It wasn't easy for me, I'll be honest," Buxton said of the behind-the-scenes shooting. "But I thought it came out pretty good."
  • The Twins' game against Colorado at Target Field on June 25 has been moved to a 6:15 p.m. start, the team announced, after Fox chose it as its national game of the week.
  • With Target Field attendance averaging just 17,944, the Twins are putting heavily discounted tickets on sale through June. "Ballpark Access" tickets, which don't include a reserved seat, are $9, and reserved field view and diamond view seats are either $9 or $12, depending on the game.
  • Righthander Jharel Cotton cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to St. Paul. He was the losing pitcher for the Saints on Friday night at Omaha.