Danny Valencia's opportunity may be brief, but the window is open
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With the exception of his major-league debut in 2010, it's likely Danny Valencia has never been happier to walk into the Minnesota Twins clubhouse.
Valencia, demoted on May 9 after hitting just .190/.204/.290 with one home run to start the season, played 67 games for Triple-A Rochester while Trevor Plouffe tore the cover off the ball in his absence.
Plouffe's bruised thumb landed him on the disabled list Friday, retroactive to July 21, thus opening a door for Valencia, who hit just .250/.289/.399 with seven home runs and a team-leading 37 RBIs during his two-month demotion.
"It was a good time down there," Valencia said. "Obviously there's things I wanted to do better, and there's things that I did really well. ...
"You never want to be sent down to the minor leagues. Obviously you realize how nice it is up here and what you strive for, and what you work for, so obviously it's nice to be back."
Valencia's promotion is more need-based than anything. Chris Parmelee, hitting .327/.460/.591, is the Red Wing most deserving of a call-up, but the Twins would rather him see every-day at-bats for now.
So starting Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians, Valencia will be filling in for Plouffe, who has hit .282 with 18 home runs and 36 RBIs since Valencia's demotion.
"That's what we called him up here for," Gardenhire said. "We need a third basemen so he's it. He got sent down because he wasn't swinging well. He's hitting .250 down there. Now come back up here and play. That's all. I don't put too many expectations on anything. We'll see how he does. I told him to go swing the bat and I told him to relax out there, have fun just like you did before."
During his stint in Rochester, Valencia said he didn't focus on anything specific, but rather playing "to get better at everything."
"Play the game hard like you're supposed to, and that's about it," he added. "You work hard down there, just as hard as you work up here. Your game's never at its best. You always have to keep working."
If Valencia performs well, and if Plouffe continues to hold the starting third baseman job, the Twins might have to experiment with new positions for Valencia -- something that has been discussed casually within the organization.
"Right now it's just about getting him back in there, but he's a third baseman, that's what he is," Gardenhire said. "He can play first (base) that's what he played back in his college days. But he's a third baseman."