Kendrys Morales will acclimate on the fly since he can't go to minors
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MINNEAPOLIS - Kendrys Morales will get ready to face Major League competition by sitting on the bench.
Twins GM Terry Ryan admitted during a press conference Sunday introducing Morales that it's not an ideal situation.
"He is out of [minor league] options so I can't send him down to get some at-bats in the minor leagues-that's illegal," Ryan said. "He's not hurt, so we can't DL him. Consequently we're going to activate him."
Morales was in uniform and on the Twins bench Sunday.
The Twins signed Morales so late in the year because signing him before the draft would have required losing a draft pick to the Seattle Mariners as compensation, and the Twins "treasure" high drafts picks, Ryan said. Stephen Drew was in a similar situation -- he had draft pick compensation attached to his signing because he declined a qualifying offer -- but he re-signed with his former team, the Red Sox. Boston sent Drew to the minors to get plate appearances because unlike Morales, he had a minor league option remaining.
"We're stuck. It's not ideal but we'll make it work," Ryan said. "It's just part of the rules. This isn't the most ideal scenario. I'd like to send him down to [Triple-A] Rochester, get him going for 8, 9, 10 games and see what we've got. It's not going to happen. We'll end up having to nurse him through."
It's a unique set of circumstances, unlike any in recent Twins memory. Morales had been working out in Miami to stay in shape. One of his workout partners was Cuban-born former Twins player Alex Ochoa.
Once he's ready, Morales will hit somewhere in the middle of the Twins lineup.
"We're going to take our time with him. We don't want to hurt him, obviously," Ryan said. "Gardy and the coaching staff will start to piece together exactly when he'll be able to take regular at-bats. He's been working out in Miami and he's not that far away I'd suspect, but we'll see where he is once we get our eyes on him and see how he does in [batting practice]."
Ryan said the plan is to have Morales primarily as a DH, while occasionally spelling Mauer at first base.
"It is what it is; we obviously knew what we were getting into before we signed him," Ryan said. "He doesn't have to worry too much about fielding right now-he's going to DH. But ultimately he's going to need to be able to put a glove on his hand, too."