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Kepler, Parker out Sunday for illness

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (25) high fives shortstop Jorge Polanco (11) after defeating the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park on Sunday, April 21, at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE, Md. — Right fielder Max Kepler found himself out of the Twins’ lineup for the third consecutive game Sunday, April 21, with an illness. Reliever Blake Parker was also under the weather.

“It was not pretty,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

But the two are moving closer to full health and could have been used Sunday “in an emergency,” Baldelli said.

“At different points yesterday, we thought they might be available, but it didn’t matter,” Baldelli said. “There were other points where we thought they’re not available. At least knowing that they’re improving and getting to the point where the next day or two we could see those guys back out there, it’s encouraging.”

With Kepler out, Jake Cave has been drawn into action for three straight games. And atop the lineup, Jorge Polanco was moved up from the two-hole to leadoff in two of the three games.

Though Polanco has been red hot to begin the season, it doesn’t sound like the Twins are thinking about moving him up in the lineup once Kepler, who has hit .242/.319/.435 early on, returns.

“There are times when the lineup starts shuffling around and guys are getting days off, where you think about wanting to give it a try and see what he can do,” Baldelli said of Polanco. “We’ll do that, like we’ve seen. Kep has taken to that spot well, and truthfully, you can also look at it the other way. Instead of saying ‘Let’s move Polo around,’ he’s swinging the bat so well, I think there’s also a reasonable sentiment to just say, ‘He’s swinging the bat well, so let’s leave him where he’s at and let him keep it going.’”

One position left for Astudillo

In the later innings of Saturday’s second game, Willians Astudillo made his first major league appearance in right field.

It was a way to get Eddie Rosario some time off his feet and a way to give Astudillo experience at the position. It also means Astudillo has one position left in the majors he’s never played: shortstop.

But don’t expect to see that soon.

“I can’t believe we’re talking about Astudillo playing shortstop,” Baldelli jokingly grumbled before putting an end to that idea. “I can say I have — and you can go right up to him and tell him — I have no plans of playing him at shortstop at all. None.”

Briefly

With a double in the fourth inning, Byron Buxton has a double in four straight games and five of six. He has a major league-leading 12 doubles. His career high is 19 in 2016.

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