MINNEAPOLIS — Pedro Florimon made things look easy on Monday night as he patrolled shortstop for the Minnesota Twins.
The 25-year-old Florimon, playing in just his 26th career big league game, turned in a pair of nifty defensive plays in Minnesota’s 7-2 win over visiting Cleveland. The first of the two ended the top of the sixth inning as Florimon chased down a ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop, backhanded it and fired a low throw to first to retire Russ Canzler for the third out.
One inning later, Florimon again flashed the leather — well, sort of. He actually didn’t need his glove at all as he made a barehanded play on a slow roller off the bat of Casey Kotchman to get the out at first. Back-to-back batters, back-to-back highlight reel plays on defense by Florimon.
“Florimon had one hell of a day out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was all over the place.”
Both plays were impressive, but when asked which play was tougher, Florimon said the barehanded play was the more challenging of the two. Regardless, he made both look easy.
“Bare handed’s more difficult,” Florimon said, as translated by second baseman and fellow Dominican Alexi Casilla.
“The play in the hole was unbelievable, too,” Gardenhire added. “You make a play like that and then fire it down low, which he had to do, the only way he’s going to get him is bounce it. And then (Justin Morneau) makes a really nice pick on that ball, too. Some acrobatic plays.”
But as impressive as Florimon looked defensively, he showed Monday that he can also contribute with his bat. The Twins shortstop tripled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning — minutes after making his first of two flashy defensive plays — and later scored on a base hit by Ben Revere to put the Twins up 2-1.
One inning later, Florimon hit a one-out double to the gap in left-center, driving in Matt Carson from first base to extend Minnesota’s lead to 4-2 in the seventh. After moving to third base on a groundout by Revere, Florimon scored from third base on a wild pitch by Masterson.
“He drove some balls the other way tonight to the gap, almost off the wall out there,” Gardenhire said. “I think the guy was cheating in on him and he drove it over his head. He can swing it a little bit. He’s shown he can pull some balls through the hole when he has to. Good stuff. It was a nice night.”
Before Florimon advanced to third in that inning, Masterson hit him in the back of the head on a pickoff throw to second base. Florimon stayed on the ground for a moment and was checked out by team trainers, but he stayed in the game and eventually came around to score.
By the time Florimon came to the plate for his fourth at-bat of the night in the eighth inning, he received a nice ovation from the crowd on hand at Target Field. His impressive night didn’t go unnoticed by the Twins faithful.
With a big question mark at shortstop next season, these last three weeks are important for Florimon — as well as the other infielders looking to lock down a spot on the roster next year. The Twins have used four different shortstops this year, and Florimon has now played 22 games there.
Florimon made his big league debut with Baltimore last season, appearing in four games with the Orioles. He made his Twins debut on Aug. 17 against Seattle and is now batting .267 with five RBI in 22 games with Minnesota.
Florimon is hoping he’ll be in the mix for the shortstop job in 2013. More nights like Monday will certainly help his case.
“I’m working hard and playing the way the Twins like, and just do the things I know (how) to do,” Florimon said, as translated by Casilla. “I know I’m making a good impression on the coaches and the team, and just keep playing the way I’m playing, and I feel a lot of confidence I’m going to be back next year.”