Twins rookie Pedro Florimon more than held his own Saturday night in Seattle.
By JOAN NIESENFS North
Twins promoted shortstop
Pedro Florimon from Triple-A on Tuesday, it was less for his abilities than because of the struggles of another. Brian Dozier was slumping, bound for Rochester, and the team needed a replacement.
That replacement was Florimon, a defensive specialist whom the team decided to get a closer look at in the final days before September call-ups. The expectations were hardly overwhelming for the young shortstop: play solid defense, earn some time, show us what you can do and why you should be here.
In his Twins debut on Friday, Florimon performed as expected. His defense was solid and included a diving, over-the-shoulder catch in the seventh inning of the team's 5-3 loss. He was hitless, but the Twins saw a hint of what they expected.
In Saturday's 3-2 loss to Seattle, though, Florimon made his performance of the night before an afterthought. His running catch in shallow left field in the eighth inning may have saved the Twins a run, but the real show came at the plate, where the shortstop went 2-for-3 with a triple, a single, a run scored and a sacrifice in the top of the ninth that led to a bases-loaded situation for the Twins – upon which they failed to capitalize.
Florimon's outing Saturday was the best-hitting night of his major-league career. In his five previous games in the big leagues – Friday's with the Twins and four in September 2011 with the Orioles – Florimon had just one hit in 11 at-bats, a double on Sept. 25, 2011 in Detroit.
The Twins claimed Florimon off waivers from the Orioles in December, and he spent 30 games at Double-A New Britain before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester, where he played 83 games. In the minors this season, Florimon batted .259 overall, .251 in Rochester. He had 29 multi-hit outings among those 113 games in the minor leagues.
The Twins were held to nine hits on Saturday, and the team's two newest callups were responsible for five of them. Matt Carson, who had a hit on Friday, added three more in Saturday's loss, and the two players' success at the plate came at a sharp contrast to the rest of the team's lack of offense. It's even more impressive in light of the Mariners' pitchers' recent stellar performances, which included a Felix Hernandez perfect game on Wednesday.
"They've been unbelievable," Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley said. "I don't think there's any secret. They've got good stuff, they can locate, and you can see the better hitters in the game are not having success off of them."
The bets hitters might not be finding success, but these Twins newcomers certainly are. However, for the second night in a row, their efforts have come for naught. Minnesota lost another close game on a walkoff John Jason sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was just the team's second walkoff loss of the season after it fell to the Rangers 4-3 in on a 13th-inning walkoff single on July 8.
As disappointing as the loss might have been for the Twins, especially because of their inability to produce with runners in scoring position, in the bigger picture, a performance like Florimon's can take away from that. He wasn't brought to the majors to help the Twins to a pennant run. He wasn't even brought to produce offensively.
Florimon joined the team to fill a hole and to show how his skills might translate to the major leagues. This isn't about impact now as much as it is about what he might be able to provide in the future, and a 50-69 team should not be disappointed in what it's seen so far.