Nick Gordon has joined storied company.
With a hit and two stolen bases in the Twins’ win over the Astros on Saturday, Gordon became just the second player in Twins history to garner more than 10 hits and three stolen bases in his first 10 major league games. Kirby Puckett first did it in 1984.
“He’s had great at-bats throughout. Obviously running around the bases, getting great jumps. He’s shown great instincts out on the field,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Gordon. “And he’s performed. He’s done it, and he’s done it with good energy, and it’s been really, really fun on our end to see him do it.”
Fellow rookie Ben Rortvedt, who was at the plate when Gordon stole second for the second time Saturday, hit a double to score him.
“I told Nick in the dugout, the more he puts pressure on the defense, the more fastballs we’re going to see, the more we can keep them on their toes, the more a pitcher is going to get rattled,” Rortvedt said. “I know as a catcher, when they keep you on your toes, you’ve always got to think twice about who’s on base and what pitches you’re throwing. It just gives a lot more fastballs and gets us in more hitter’s counts. It’s awesome.”
Gordon has also risen to the occasion of playing multiple positions. An infielder by trade, he has filled in at center field given the rash of injuries. He has also slotted in at second base. He wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, with Rob Refsnyder, who had played just once since May 31 because of injuries, returning to the outfield. But Gordon came in during the seventh inning and played shortstop.
Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton are nearing returns from shoulder and hip injuries, respectively, and will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip. That influx of healthy starting outfielders might push Gordon back to Class AAA St. Paul. But given how he has weathered his hectic time in the majors thus far, he’s likely to take that unfazed.
“Early on, his at-bats and his opportunities didn’t come in bunches, but he stayed prepared. He stayed ready,” Baldelli said. “He’s also learning how to play some new positions and getting work in spots he’d never really played before in his life. And none of that has gotten in his way. He’s just gone out there and simply played well.”
The Twins are in Seattle for a three-game series starting Monday and will pitch Kenta Maeda to start. Beyond that is a bit nebulous, though J.A. Happ and Bailey Ober are the likely starters. Maeda last started May 22 in Cleveland before going on the injured list with groin and forearm injuries.
“The groin issue went away quicker,” Maeda said in Japanese through an interpreter. “I could have been back on the big-league mound with the shortest amount being on the IL, but I wanted to take the time to fully recover and feel 100 percent. I just wanted to take the time.”
Randy Dobnak, who has made four starts for the Twins this season, might be the odd man out of the rotation. Baldelli said Dobnak is able to pitch despite dealing with a broken fingernail and bruising in his most recent start. He pitched two innings in relief Sunday but gave up seven hits and six runs.
“Truthfully, we’ve kind of been playing it out day by day,” Baldelli said of nailing down the rotation. “… Dob, he’s a versatile guy. He can do some different things, but we’re just going to have to evaluate what’s best for him right now before we decide what we’re going to do.”
With Arraez and Buxton back from their rehab stints for evaluation Sunday, Max Kepler took their place in the Saints lineup. He was the designated hitter but will play in the outfield as well in St. Paul, both in right and center. He will be an option at both those outfield positions when he returns to the Twins.
“He hasn’t been out too long,” Baldelli said. “I wouldn’t expect him to be on a rehab assignment for more than a few days.”