Kendrys Morales makes his Twins debut at DH
TORONTO — In a surprise move, Kendrys Morales made his Twins debut on Monday, batting sixth and starting at designated hitter against the Blue Jays.
Morales, who officially joined the Twins on Sunday after signing a one-year, $12 million prorated contract, was expected to need roughly a week to get ready before playing in his first game.
Morales hasn’t played since last September, but called bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar on Sunday night and asked him to tell Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was ready to play on Monday.
“He said he’s been sitting for four months and he thought about it and watched the game last night so he wants to play,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I got no problem with that. I just told me he has to tell me how he’s feeling out there.”
Gardenhire said it’ll be up to Morales to determine how much he’ll play in his first week with the club, as he’s still trying to knock off some rust. His first start came against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey but Gardenhire said that didn’t factor into the decision for Morales to start on Monday.
“I don’t know if it’s easier to come back and hit against a knuckleballer or against a guy throwing 95 [mph],” Gardenhire said. “I’ve never seen this before with a guy sitting out this long. But he’s been swinging out there so it’s not like he’s swinging cold turkey or coming out of a hospital bed.”
Morales, who turns 31 on June 20, worked out six days a week at agent Scott Boras’ training facility in Miami to stay sharp. He faced live pitching there, including facing free-agent right-hander Joel Pineiro, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony. Antony was also on board with the decision to put Morales right into the lineup.
“To me, the only way to knock off the rust is to play,” Antony said. “Maybe he struggles or doesn’t give us much for a week but then he takes off and does fine. You can wait a week and let him take BP but there’s nothing really to simulate a real game. So I think it’s great he wants to play.”