P.J.R.: Dear Danny, 'Patience at plate can be overrated.'
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FORT MYERS, FLA. - The Twins decided to get several of their interesting young players out of daily view on Sunday morning, when pitchers Trevor May and Alex Meyer and first baseman Kennys Vargas were among 16 players making the 200-yard trip to the minor league clubhouse.
May is 24 and has been a professional for six years. He had to arrive here figuring on more than a two-game, three-inning look before facing reassignment. Meyer is 23 and entering his third pro season. But one game and two innings ... he probably expected a touch more mound time in big-league exhibitions.
As for Vargas, 23, he's coming out of Class A - where he hit 19 home runs and drove in 93 - and with this team's excruciating lack of power ... well, why not keep him around for another week for entertainment value in pregame BP if nothing else?
One interesting player who did survive the unusually large first cut was Danny Santana, 23, and a shortstop who has played six professional seasons. Santana is coming off a year at Class AA New Britain where he batted .297, with 66 runs scored, 45 driven in and 30 stolen bases in 43 attempts. He also was charged with 32 errors, leading to the reputation that he is erratic in the field while also being spectacular.
Santana spent the winter playing 29 games for Aguilar in the Dominican Winter League. He batted .311 but with only four walks to go with 122 official at-bats.
That's the other knock on Santana: He doesn't walk.
The Twins would like to see a higher on-base percentage, obviously. Fair enough, but let's hope they aren't trying to drill the word "patience'' into the mindset of the free-swinging Dominican.
You know what ruined Aaron Hicks in his rookie season with the Twins, don't you? Patience. He received so much praise for his ability to draw walks in his five prior seasons in the minor leagues that those seemed to become his priority.
I don't know what you saw from Hicks. I saw a hitter who seemed to be thinking, ''That might not be a strike,'' rather than, "Here's a pitch I can handle.''
Maybe Joe Mauer can afford to take first-pitch cookie fastballs (even though I pray for a season when he gets 20 first-pitch hits ... mostly for extra bases).
Hicks could not afford to let those cookies pass, particularly with his limitations as a left-handed hitter. When he was down 0-1 in the count and batting left-handed, you could see the doubts ... first the reluctance to pull the trigger, then the desperation to get in at least one swing before he had to parade back to the dugout.
"Sometimes I swing at the first pitch; sometimes I don't,'' Santana said on Tuesday morning, before making the trip to Port Charlotte for the Twins' exhibition with Tampa Bay. "If a pitch is in the zone, I swing.''
Santana was in his first spring training with the Twins in 2013. The word from the minor league folks was, "Watch this kid. He's going to be our shortstop in a couple of years.''
The reviews for his early play last season at New Britain were iffy, but he picked it up in May, and was outstanding in the final two months of the minor league schedule.
Pedro Florimon, the Twins' feeble-hitting incumbent at shortstop, still hasn't played since having his appendix removed last month. He did take batting practice and participated in drills in Tuesday's workout for players not making the trip to Portland.
As for Jason Bartlett, the early reports on his comeback try are not encouraging. Everything considered, Santana figures to be the Twins' shortstop at some point this summer.
When it happens, let's hope he arrives with the same attitude as a hittrer:
"If a pitch is in the zone, I swing,'' even if what Danny actually means is "If a pitch is near the zone, I swing.''
Patience is overrated. Look at Aaron Hicks' rookie numbers if you don't buy that.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.