Twins desperate for outfield help
The Sports Xchange
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are so desperate for outfielders they turned to one of their top infield prospects to fill the gap.
Due to injuries to Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia and Sam Fuld and because of the ineffectiveness at the plate by Aaron Hicks, the Twinsput rookie shortstop Danny Santana in center field in Tuesday’s series opener with the Red Sox at Target Field.
Signed by the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Santana — a native of the Dominican Republic — was ranked the Twins’ ninth-best prospect and best defensive infielder entering 2014 by Baseball America.
“He moves really well, he sees it, he’s played a lot of it down in the lower minor leagues,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re happy with him. He brings some life to us. We like that.”
Santana, 23, played a grand total of 23 games in center field and two games in left field in the minors out of 529 games played between 2008 and 2014. Yet the Twins decided to start Santana in lieu of a healthy Hicks, who has struggled to a .160 average on the year and who was 0 for his last 13.
“You need versatility and we need to be able to interchange our parts a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “Right now we like the way these kids look out there. Some of these kids can run around and have played the outfield before.”
Santana, 5-feet, 11 inches, 175 pounds, said he’s been doing extra work in the outfield before games and discussing with coaches how to play different hitters.
“The main challenge is getting to the balls hit in the gap and balls that are hit hard, to obviously get a good first step,” Santana said.
For his career, Santana had a hit in six of his seven major league games, including three doubles, and was batting .421 heading into Tuesday’s game. He was called up by the Twins on April 20 from Triple-A Rochester, where he batted .351 with three doubles, four RBIs and three steals in nine games. In 2013, he was an Eastern League Postseason All-Star in his first season with Double-A New Britain.
But, will he remain in the starting lineup after Willingham, Arcia and Fuld return from the DL?
“It’s not anything I’m too worried about,” Santana said. “I’m just going to go out and keep working hard, play hard every day and see what I can do.”