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Defensive versatility gets Nick Gordon a toehold with Twins

Since making his big league debut in 2021, Gordon has played every position but first base and catcher

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics
Minnesota Twins third base coach Tommy Watkins (40) and left fielder Nick Gordon (1) talk during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California, on May 16, 2022.
Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports
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One of five Twins first-round draft picks to play at Target Field this season, Nick Gordon came through the organization primarily as a middle infielder. He’s finally finding a toehold in the majors as, well, just about everything.

While the other first-round picks that have played for the Twins this season have essentially played their minor league positions – Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Royce Lewis — Gordon has finally found at least semi-regular playing time as a utility man. Since making his big league debut in May of last season, Gordon has played every position but first base and catcher.

Yes, that includes pitching.

“You’ve got to embrace every single situation that you’re in and every opportunity to make the best out of it,” said Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft.

He can hit a little, too. After coming through with a pair of two-out, run-scoring hits in Friday’s 10-7 victory over Kansas City, Gordon was hitting .273 with two doubles, a triple, two runs scored and five runs batted in in 17 games this month heading into Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. first pitch against the Royals.

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That’s not easy for a player who isn’t playing every day, but Gordon said that’s just because baseball isn’t easy.

“It’s just as difficult as anything else in this game, you know?” he said. “You have to look at the guys who play every day; it’s tough to stay hot in those situations, as well. It’s the game that we play.”

Gordon, however, is in an odd spot, out of options with the Twins eager to bring Lewis back from St. Paul. While he played short in place of injured Carlos Correa in his first stint, he also has played third, left field and center field since returning to the Saints.

Lewis hit .308 with a pair of home runs and five RBIs in 11 games with the Twins while playing credibly at short, his natural and likely future position. In other words, he showed the Twins he can help them win this season. Now the Twins are getting him experience elsewhere.

In the meantime, however, Gordon has proven valuable.

“What Nick has done in opening up his options, our options, with his versatility has been fantastic,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s done that through a lot of work. It’s not very long ago where he was mainly a one-to-two position type of guy right there in the middle of the infield, and that was it. He’s added some other things to his toolbox and he’s been very motivated to move around the field.

“I think it’s the best thing for his career, for us winning games, and I think he’s taken to it very well. He has the right mentality to do this kind of job.”

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals center fielder Kyle Isbel (28) steals second base as Minnesota Twins shortstop Nick Gordon (1) misses the tag in the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 22, 2022.
Denny Medley / USA Today Sports

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Ups and downs

Another game, another new pitcher for the Twins. Two actually, as Minnesota recalled left-hander Jovani Moran and right-hander Juan Manaya from St. Paul for Saturday’s game.

“They’re going to be in there,” Baldelli said. “They’re going to be pitching.”

Minaya, who relieved starter Chris Archer in the fifth inning on Saturday, is the 25th pitcher — not including Gordon’s one inning while mopping ip a — to throw at least two innings for the Twins this season. In all, the Twins have activated 46 players through 47 games.

The Twins optioned Yannier Cano to St. Paul after Friday night’s game, and on Saturday put left-hander Danny Coulombe back on the 15-day injured list with a left hip impingement, the same injury that put him there on May 11.

Activated before Friday’s game, Coulombe pitched an inning and gave up a run on a hit and a pair of walks in the one-third of an inning.

“We obviously thought he was a hundred percent and ready to go,” Baldellii said. “But when he was out there … he re-aggravated the hip. And once we got postgame and we were talking with him, you could tell it was more than just minor, and something he was not going to be pitching with.”

BRIEFLY

There could be more pitching movement before the Twins head to Detroit after Sunday’s series finale against the Royals. The Twins play three games in two days against the Tigers before flying to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays. Baldelli said the Twins have an idea of who will start in Detroit, including in a double header on Tuesday, but added, “There’s a lot of moving parts.”

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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