It’s Jackie Robinson day today! All players are wearing No. 42 in his honor. Just FYI, there’s a new Ken Burns documentary out on him that brings a new light to his story.
Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor continues to shake up the lineup in order to get his hitters going. “Our offensive struggles so far kind of lends to me trying a few different things here as we get into our 10th game,” he said.
“I think you continue to look to try to get everybody involved to some degree,” he continued, referencing his choice to rest Brian Dozier, bat Eduardo Nunez first and Oswaldo Arcia fifth.
“Nunez, when he played — that one start — he had a nice game. I’m hoping he can give us a little bit of a spark, and I’ll back Brian off. I know Arcia has had limited action, and you put him in there and hoping that he might get a big hit along the way too.”
Byron Buxton, who injured his left hand, will be replaced by Eddie Rosario in center field. “I think it’s fairly unlikely that we’ll see him get an at-bat,” said Molitor. “He’s a little better than I expected today, he took some swings off the tee and things, but you could tell it was a little bit uncomfortable for him to go out there and face live pitching.”
In terms of Buxton’s sub-.200 average (.167/.200/.250 in 24 at-bats), Molitor doesn’t think it’s bothering him and is not considering a roster move.
“I trust that part of him a lot,” said the manager. “It’s not so much that I don’t think he can handle it, in as much as at some point you try to figure out what you’re gonna do to make your team better as a whole.”
“Another Spring Training conversation was about how much offense do we need to get from Byron to be a valuable asset to our team?” Molitor continued. “At some point you would consider his mental part of his game and how it’s affecting him, but I think that he’s as strong as anybody we have in terms of make up and being able to handle failure and learning from it.”
According to Molitor, Dozier isn’t being benched and isn’t hurt — he’s just getting a day off. “Brian is a big part of what we do here, and he will continue to be,” he said. “The combination of the matchup and getting Nunez in there, I thought was a good thing to try to make a little adjustment today.”
In terms of team morale, Molitor indicated that after games the players are pretty down on themselves, but they come back each day rejuvenated and are capable of moving on to the next day.
“It’s one of the things about our game that’s helpful is that you don’t have to wait long for another opportunity,” he said. “These guys are hungry, we had our little Twins welcome home lunch today, and there was a lot of positives being thrown around, so that’s a good sign.”
He’s upset about squandering good starting pitching — at any time really, but especially during the losing streak. “Sure it’s frustrating,” he admitted. “I mean, the losses, the big picture is the nine losses; the smaller picture is we’ve had opportunities, given the fact that our starting pitching has been what we could’ve hoped.”
But as far as trying to turn things around, he’s not making any big speeches or anything. “Baseball isn’t a game where the manager address the team every day. There’s too many games,” he said. “Your communication is more personal, if you will. You just kinda encounter people along the way. You stop and you talk about where they’re at and how they’re feeling and try to build them up a little bit.”
“There’s no secrets about what’s happened so far,” he continued. “Primarily our main concern is that we haven’t been able to generate enough offense to support the good pitching that we’re getting.”
Tonight’s matchup is lefty Tommy Milone (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. righty Garrett Richards of the Los Angeles Angels (0-2, 3.86 ERA). The Angels are 5-4 on the year.
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