Trevor Larnach returns as Max Kepler lands on injured list once more
He went 1-for-3 Saturday in his return to the major league lineup
Trevor Larnach was in the lineup last Friday in Cleveland, preparing for a game against the Guardians when he was given some surprising news: He was headed back to Triple-A.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Can’t really complain, can’t really do too much about it. Just roll with the punches.”
Well, there was something he could do — Larnach headed to the Triple-A Saints and hit nearly everything in sight, going 7 for 14 in four games, with a pair of home runs. Saturday, just over a week after his demotion, he was back with the Minnesota Twins after they placed Max Kepler on the injured list with a left hamstring strain.
Kepler left Thursday’s game early with what the Twins had described as a cramp. He pinch hit in Friday night’s game, and while manager Rocco Baldelli said his magnetic resonance imaging “seems OK,” the Twins did not expect him to be back in the lineup imminently, forcing them to make the move.
“He’s still pretty tight and we don’t think he’s going to be able to play for a handful of days, so if he can’t play for a handful of days, we’re going to IL him and get someone in here who can go,” Baldelli said. “… I think we’ve got four out of five right-handers coming up and we’re going to need some left-handed bats out here.”
One of those will be Larnach, who was back in the Twins’ lineup Saturday and playing right field. Larnach finished the day 1 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts.
Before his demotion, Larnach had been hitting .221 with a .686 on-base percentage. In his last three games with the big league club, he went 0 for 9 with eight strikeouts as he worked to again find what had been working so well for him during a hot spring and solid beginning of the season.
Some of that, he said, was trying to collaborate with Twins’ coaches, assessing what he was doing well and what now feels different or off and trying to put a plan in place. Some of it is paying attention to how he’s been approached by opposing pitchers.
“Spring training, everything just felt synched up. Hands, lower half, everything and then honestly from probably the beginning, middle-ish of last month, I felt it kind of slowly going away and I communicated that, and I tried my best to prevent that and tried my best to adjust to that,” Larnach said. “This game’s hard. There’s a lot of adjustments that are being made on you from the other team’s standpoint and you’ve got to try to make your own adjustments for yourself and your body.”
Twins call up reliever
The Twins made another roster move on Saturday, too, optioning Dereck Rodriguez to Triple-A and bringing back Cole Sands.
Rodriguez, like other long relievers before him, was seldom used during his stint in the majors — he came up last Saturday and pitched just 2/3 of an inning — with the Twins playing many close, tight games and starters pitching deeper into games.
But while the Twins haven’t had much work for a longman recently, the game situations instead calling for higher-leverage relievers, they still prefer to reserve that spot in case they need one. Sands threw a turbulent two innings on Saturday upon his return to the majors, walking five batters but not allowing a hit — or a run — in his outing.
“Even if you don’t need them over the course of two or three weeks very often, you know you’re going to need them,” Baldelli said. “We are going to need someone to go out there and give us 2-4 innings in one of these games, and we’re not going to be able to go on and survive without someone doing that.”
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