With Edouard Julien red hot, Twins plan for Jorge Polanco to start getting work at third base

22 July 2023

A couple years ago, the Twins approached Jorge Polanco, then a shortstop, and told him of their plans to shift him to second base. Friday, Rocco Baldelli had a similar conversation with the infielder, who is currently rehabbing with the Triple-A Saints.

This time, the Twins had another move across the infield planned: Polanco will start to get some work in at third base while on his rehab assignment.

“He’s always completely good for whatever’s going to help the team,” Baldelli said. “That’s what always comes out of his mouth. Every time I’ve approached him with anything, that’s the first thing he says.”

And what’s going to help the Twins the most is having both Polanco and red-hot rookie Edouard Julien in the lineup.

When Polanco came back from the injured list twice earlier this year, the Twins just optioned Julien back to Triple-A to make space for the veteran. But the rookie has been the team’s best hitter of late, prompting the decision to get Polanco, the better defender of the two, some work in at third.

“We don’t want to take Eddie Julien out of the lineup and when you look at all the different options that you have for guys to move around the field, I feel, we feel the best option to moving someone to a new spot where they can handle it would be Polo at third base,” Baldelli said.

Baldelli said the Twins still plan to get Polanco, who was off Friday night, some work in at second but “probably even more” at third as he adjusts to a position at which he’s only played nine major league games.

Though he has plenty of experience on the left side of the infield, Polanco hasn’t played third base since 2016. He moved from shortstop to second base ahead of the 2021 season.

“I have no doubts that he’s going to be able to handle this. I don’t have big concerns of any kind,” Baldelli said. “I just want to make sure he gets enough work in over there and we can’t rush someone that’s never played a spot in the field before over to another spot and then rush him out there into the game.”

He’s also, as Baldelli noted, still recovering from a moderate hamstring strain — his second this season — that has kept him out since June 8.

All that to say, his return won’t be imminent.

“He’s in a good spot physically right now but he’s still building himself back up, so when you combine both of those things, we want to make sure he’s ready before we bring him back and … we’re going to kind of sample some different opinions out there and take them all in and see where we’re at by the end of the week, probably, and then reassess and make a decision from there,” Baldelli said.

Lewis feeling good

The opening at third base is in part because of an injury to Royce Lewis, who is sidelined with an oblique injury that he suffered three weeks ago in Baltimore. Lewis said he’s been hitting, playing catch and is feeling good, but acknowledged that obliques are tricky and he’s trying not to rush back.

“What they are telling me is that it can always come back,” Lewis said. “I want to follow and listen. I don’t want to get hurt again and have to miss the whole year.”

Shortly after he suffered the strain, the Twins said they expected Lewis to be out for around six weeks. Lewis, who began the season on the injured list rehabbing after surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, has played in just 26 games this season, but was hitting .326 with a .827 OPS at the time of his injury.

“Three weeks went by quick already, so that’s good to know for me. It’s going to be way faster than an ACL,” Lewis said. “It still sucks, obviously, to miss games and see I’m missing out on the fun, but it’s going good.”


Willi Castro and Joey Gallo were both scratched from Friday’s game with conjunctivitis — better known as pink eye. … Caleb Thielbar (oblique) is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday. … Pitcher Charlee Soto, selected No. 34 overall in the draft, officially signed with the Twins on Friday. The Twins have now signed 18 of their 21 selections in the draft, a number that does not yet include No. 5 overall pick Walker Jenkins.

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