There won’t be a replacement in the Twins clubhouse for Nelson Cruz as the Twins on Friday carried on with the business of playing their second game since the team dealt Cruz to the Rays.
“We feel really sad, but that’s part of the game, and we need to still work,” Miguel Sano said. “We need to show our young players what he showed us — to be a leader, to be a professional leader.”
While the leadership and friendship Cruz provided will leave a void, there has to be somebody to take his place on the roster and in the lineup, since the return for Cruz was two righthanded pitching prospects in Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.
“We know when you lose Nelson Cruz you don’t replace Nelson Cruz,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You’re not trying to replace the production or leadership with just one person.
The Twins called up Brent Rooker and slotted him sixth in the batting order. The 26-year-old was back with the Twins after hitting 19 home runs for Class AAA St. Paul. He was with the Twins for eight games this season and was 3-for-29 with a home run.
Rooker was going to get a chance to prove himself, Baldelli said.
“Rook’s going to get some at-bats right now,” Baldelli said. “He’s going to DH. He’s going to play in the corners. The lineup’s going to look a little different every day, so he could find himself out there against lefties, against righties as well. I don’t want to get too specific, but he’s going to be ready to play, regardless of when that’s going to be.”
Rooker was in Omaha on Thursday when Cruz was traded.
“We found out about the Nelson trade probably an hour before game time. I went ahead and played in the game and Toby [Gardenhire, the Saints manager] didn’t give me the news [of his callup] until after the game.
“I was really sad to see Nelson go. He’s a guy I learned a ton from, as good of a player, teammate and a leader as you’re going to find anywhere.”
Cruz’s departure likely also means more at-bats and time in the field for Sano, especially as Alex Kirilloff is out for the season because of wrist surgery.
“He’s been willing to do anything for this team that we’ve asked him to do even when his role was changed. His role is changing again,” Baldelli said. “He will be back out there. He will be getting at-bats. He will be playing first base and occasionally third base and we’re going to look to him to find himself, get back out there and get back to the production he’s used to and he demands of himself.”
Kirilloff has surgery
Baldelli said Kirilloff underwent the procedure to repair a torn ligament in his wrist and it went “very well,” Baldelli said.
“What they went in there to look for and fix was certainly present,” Baldelli said. “They didn’t go in there and see anything out of the ordinary.”
Baldelli said the team still expects Kirilloff to be on an eight-week recovery timetable but that could fluctuate.
“It’s a rough number,” Baldelli said. “So is it seven? It is 10? I don’t know. It also truly, functionally, doesn’t matter a ton if it’s seven, eight, nine, 10, 12 weeks, because he’s not necessarily going to be back playing in major league games. But we do want him to have a full, healthy offseason and that’s the goal.”
Arraez takes BP
Luis Arraez, who hasn’t played since injuring a calf muscle Tuesday, took batting practice, which Baldelli called a “good sign.” But in order for Arraez to get back to action, the Twins are hoping his mobility returns to where it was. They’re still hopeful he can avoid a stint on the injured list.
“It’s when he’s going to be able to sprint and when he’s going to be able to change directions and run the way he’s going to need to run if we’re going to put him in a game,” Baldelli said. “That’s going to tell us more.”
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