Twins scheming a lineup that includes Jorge Polanco and Edouard Julien

19 July 2023

SEATTLE — Edouard Julien is keenly aware that Jorge Polanco is three games into a rehab assignment with St. Paul, which means his defensive position with the Twins is about to be reclaimed by the incumbent.

“It’s tough to not think about it when the … biggest reason why you’re here is because the second baseman’s hurt,” he said.

The Twins aren’t just going to option one of their best hitters back to the minors, but where would they put Julien if Polanco is at second?

“That’s a legit thing that’s coming our way right now,” manager Rocco Baldelli said before Tuesday night’s 8:40 p.m. CDT first pitch against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

The conversation among Baldelli and his coaches has already begun, although it hasn’t yet trickled down to Julien. After going 3 for 4 with a walk and run scored in Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Mariners, the rookie is hitting .354 with nine doubles, three home runs, six runs batted in and 13 runs scored since being recalled on June 10.

In 10 games this month heading into Tuesday, he was 12 for 25 (.480) with three doubles and five RBIs.

“I don’t really care about that stuff,” Julien said. “Yeah, I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well lately, but I’m just trying to get better and just trying to help the team win.”

The likelihood of the Twins sending that production back to St. Paul is zilch. But Julien is still sharpening his defense, and when asked Tuesday for the last time he took grounders at third or flies in left field, he said, “It’s been a long time. I think last year, maybe?”

Maybe the question isn’t about where the Twins play Julien but where they play Polanco. With Jose Miranda on the injured list with a shoulder impingement, there is an opening at third base. Polanco hasn’t played at third since 2016 — nine total games — but he has at least played both middle infield spots in the majors.

Not moving Julien, who sometimes struggles with his glove and throws, might be an option. But while Baldelli acknowledged the conversation about keeping both players in the lineup has begun, he didn’t say it was near to answer.

Clearly, though, Baldelli wants both bats in the lineup. Although Julien has only 46 major league games under his belt, the Twins’ manager said it was clear even before spring training games started that Julien — who starred for Canada in the World Baseball Classic — was “a major league-caliber hitter and a guy that can really help a team score some runs.”

“He just has certain abilities in the box,” the manager added. “It’s kind of path-related. The way his path works is unique and leads to his success. His path, his directness, but also the way he creates strength in not a big body. All that combined, you put that together, and you have somebody that can really do some things.”

Julien, 24, of course said he’ll do anything the team wants from him. But not lacking in confidence, he also made a little pitch.

“I know what’s best for the team is probably to have Polanco and me in the same lineup,” he said. “That would probably be the best-case scenario.”

The Twins seem to think so, as well.

“We’ll take them both and we’ll figure it out,” Baldelli said. “I’m not sure what the answer is going to be. Time will tell.”

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