Saturday, April 8, 2017

Miguel Sano, 1B, and other bench thoughts

Paul Molitor has deployed four different lineups in four games. Last night's lineup not only got Chris Gimenez his first start behind the plate, but featured Miguel Sano at first base, a position he is not believed to have worked at even once during spring training.

Molitor himself donned a glove during the pregame warmups to supervise Sano taking grounders and throws at first.

The expectation in March had been that either Byung Ho Park or Kennys Vargas would be on the roster as the DH and backup first baseman. When they were both sent to Triple A Rochester, my expectation was that Max Kepler would be the first baseman when Joe Mauer sat.

There are advantages to shifting Sano to first rather than Kepler. The main one is that it gives Eduardo Escobar a chance to play (at third). Of the three reserves (Escobar, Gimenez and Danny Santana), Escobar is pretty clearly the one who with the best chance at being a productive regular.

Kepler -- a better outfielder than Santana or primary designated hitter Robbie Grossman -- made a nice catch in right Friday night. Sano doubled home the run that put the Twins up for good and didn't obviously mess up any plays at first. Escobar walked, singled and scored a run. Even Gimenez doubled.

So Friday's lineup shuffle worked marvelously for Molitor, and the Twins are 4-0.

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