Twins manager tries to keep his team loose
The Twins had music blaring in their clubhouse after a recent loss, which goes against baseball protocol. Usually, the sound system is reserved for victories; the appropriate response to a defeat is somber silence.
But manager Ron Gardenhire wants the reeling Twins to relax and have fun. That’s easier said than done as the Twins careen toward their third straight 95-loss season amid calls for Gardenhire’s job.
“I told the boys it is baseball,’’ Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We’re making it like a job right now. It’s gotta be baseball. That’s the message to the team.”
Gardenhire believes the players need to put their struggles in perspective and relax.
“These are grown men in uniforms, running around a baseball field and now we have all the pressure in the world on us, like the sky is falling,’’ he said. “The sky is not falling. There’s people out there in a little more trouble than we are into.’’
And what will the manager do if his players won’t relax?
“I’ll just kick them in the (rear) if they are not smiling,’’ he said.
See, the manager still has a sense of humor.
Teams may be formulating a game plan to slow down Yasiel Puig the second time around.
Puig has now faced three teams — the Padres, Diamondbacks and Giants — in a second series since being called up on June 3. His cumulative totals in those repeat games are 11 for 44 (.250) with one double, one homer and 17 strikeouts.
Notes and quotes
• You never know where you might find an All-Star. The Padres acquired shortstop Everth Cabrera, who will be on the National League squad, in the Rule V draft in 2009. The Rockies left him unprotected despite the fact he had led the minors with 73 stolen bases in 2008.
• Congratulations to Rene Rivera, the former Mariner catcher who was called up by the Padres on Sunday to replace injured Yasmani Grandal.
Rivera, who was leading the entire San Diego organization with his .343 average in Class AAA, has spent six years in the minors since appearing in 53 total games with the Mariners in 2004, ’05 and ’06. He also had brief action with the Twins in 2011. The Padres are his sixth organization.
“It’s been a journey, man,” Rivera, 29, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “There’ve been ups and downs in my career. This time I feel like I earned it.”
• It seems like a good sign for the Pirates that several players have opted to remain in Pittsburgh to work out at PNC Park during the All-Star break.
Obviously, that doesn’t include the four Pirates chosen for the National League team, their largest All-Star contingent since 1981.
The Pirates are gunning for their first playoff berth — and winning record — since 1992.
“This group is uncommon,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told reporters. “And to be elite in any sport, you have to be uncommon.”
• Despite their success, the Pirates entered Friday’s game hitting just .232 with runners in scoring position. The only teams worse were the Mariners (.225) and Astros (.224).
Hurdle, however, believes Pirates hitters have the proper approach.
“Go up there with not, ‘I got to,’ but, ‘I get to,’ ” he said. “That’s one thing we talk about. Your frame of mind’s important. If your success is tied to a base hit, that’s a very challenging place to put yourself.”
• Puig’s getting all the attention, but another rookie is off to a loud start in Chicago. White Sox catcher Josh Phegley hit three homers in his first 20 at-bats in the majors.
That included a grand slam off Anibal Sanchez, and homers off a couple of hacks named David Price and Justin Verlander.
• Danny Salazar of the Indians defeated R.A. Dickey on Thursday, making him just the fourth pitcher to ever win his major-league debut over a reigning Cy Young winner.
The others, according to Elias, are the Pirates’ Lee Tunnell on Sept. 4, 1982 over the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela; the Phillies’ Matt Beech on Aug. 8, 1996 over the Braves’ Greg Maddux and the Dodgers’ Edwin Jackson on Sept. 9, 2003 over Arizona’s Randy Johnson.
Salazar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and gave up just one run on two hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk. He was clocked at 97 mph in the first inning and 99 mph later in the game.
“That kid has special stuff. He has a very bright future,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry