Rocco Baldelli wanted to get Nick Gordon’s feet wet.
The first time the Minnesota Twins manager put the rookie infielder in to play center field, he didn’t want it to be to start a ballgame, in a tie game or anything like that. To break Gordon in, Baldelli let him trot out there Wednesday in a low-pressure situation, with the Twins trailing big.
That foresight proved important. Gordon, who played one inning in center field Wednesday, was forced into action early Thursday after Alex Kirilloff left the game after the first inning with a sprained ankle. The Twins shifted Gilberto Celestino from center to right, and Gordon was sent out to man center.
Before Wednesday, Gordon had not played the outfield in a game since he was a preteen. But with the Twins’ center field depth stretched thin, Gordon became the seventh player to man the position for them this season.
It wasn’t a surprise on Wednesday because the Twins had been prepping him for the potential by getting him reps pregame, but he did admit to a little bit of nerves.
“I kind of looked forward to it,” Gordon said before Thursday’s game. “I’d kind of been working at it, so I knew that I might get the opportunity to get out there. Just didn’t really know when. I wouldn’t say I took it by surprise. I just kind of always had it in my head and had it in the back of my mind that it could definitely happen.”
Gordon, 25, said he was 12 years old when played the outfield for the only time in his life.
“Nick is a guy that can make some adjustments and pick things up and figure things out, and we wouldn’t be afraid to put him in a spot where he hasn’t really played before,” Baldelli said Thursday.
Gordon’s newfound versatility has been necessitated by injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Rob Refsnyder and Kyle Garlick, who had all manned center field before him.
Baldelli said over the weekend that the conversation had been building with Gordon to give him some pregame reps both in center and at third base. The increased versatility will help both a depleted Twins team and the rookie, who could see some more playing time.
“I’m willing to do whatever I’m needed to do,” Gordon said. “I don’t really say I have to play one position or try to work just at one position. Wherever it is that I need to be, I’ll be there.”
Carew branches out
After a year spent entirely in quarantine, Hall of Famer Rod Carew has been enjoying his time out and about. That included a recent trip to Minnesota in which the former Twins great participated in the Twins’ Swing for the Kids Fantasy Baseball Batting Practice event, caught a couple of Twins games and spent plenty of time catching up with old friend Tony Oliva.
Carew, whose book “One Tough Out,” was recently released in paperback, has started a foray into social media and podcasting.
“I was quietly living my life at home and then my son (Devon) decided that he was going to get me out of the caveman times and bring me up to date (with) what’s going on in the world, so we joined together and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Carew said. “It’s fun. It’s fun because I hear from the fans out there and they have a lot of questions that they want to hear about, so I’m at least giving them that opportunity.”
Carew’s podcast, “Still Swinging,” which he is launching with his son, will come out later this month, he said.
“He’ll do the main part and when he needs me, he’ll just yell ‘Daaad,’ ” Carew joked. “… I’m glad that I’m able to do it with him because he really stresses things and he really wants me to do it well. So far, it’s going good.”
Baldelli said Luis Arraez (shoulder strain) has been starting to feel a lot better and a call on when they will send him to St. Paul on a rehab assignment could come in the next day or two. … Max Kepler (hamstring strain) is further behind and Baldelli said he may stay back when the Twins go on their next road trip and eventually join the team on the road. … Baldelli said Caleb Thielbar (groin strain) tried to throw a bullpen Wednesday and still felt the issue, so he will continue to throw on flat ground before trying to throw another bullpen next week. … The Twins are still not sure whether Rob Refsnyder (hamstring strain) will avoid the injured list.