Friday, April 8, 2016

A momentary lineup shuffle

Paul Molitor made his first lineup changes of the season for the third game, and they were interesting both because of the potential matchup advantages and because of what happened in the previous game.

On Wednesday Miguel Sano had some adventures in right field; on Thursday Sano was the designated hitter and Danny Santana was in right. On Wednesday Byung Ho Park struck out three times in three official at-bats (he also walked); on Thursday he sat.

One of the questions regarding Park's transition to American baseball was how well he would handle velocity. Ubaldo Jiminez, the Baltimore starter on Thursday, has a notable fastball. So Molitor picked a matchup with Jiminez to get somebody else in the lineup.

And the Twins starter on Thursday, Phil Hughes, is a rather extreme flyball pitcher. So Santana, the third best defensive outfielder on the active roster (behind Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario) got the start ahead of Oswaldo Arcia.

These are hardly permanent changes. But it's likely that Sano's outfield breaks will come heavily on days that Hughes starts. And maybe Thursday suggests that Molitor is looking to "protect" Park more than he suggested late in spring training.

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