Vargas ready if Twins need slugger vs. Mariners (Jun 08, 2017)

BY AP • June 8, 2017

SEATTLE -- Kennys Vargas wants to show he belongs in the major leagues.

To that end, the hulking Minnesota Twins first baseman put on quite a show in batting practice Wednesday before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. He might get a chance to do so in regulation action Thursday during the series finale between the teams.

Vargas, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, drew oohs and aahs from Minnesota teammates and those in the crowd when he hit a towering shot over the Hit It Here Cafe and into the upper deck in right field. Retired slugger Mo Vaughn is the only player to reach that level in a game.

"Every time you get called up, it's good to show you can produce at this level," Vargas said through a translator.

Vargas was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday when the Twins put shortstop Jorge Polanco on the bereavement list. Polanco left the team Tuesday after the death of his grandfather in the Dominican Republic.

"Any time one of your teammates loses somebody, you feel bad for him," Vargas said. "We're praying for him and hope all goes well. But this is my job."

Vargas, 26, hit .258 with five home runs and 19 RBIs before being sent down May 29 when the Twins needed to bolster their pitching staff.

Asked if being sent to the minors was made easier because it wasn't because of poor performance but rather roster needs, Vargas shook his head.

"It's not up to me. I don't control that," he said. "I'm part of this team (now). I went down and did my job, prepared to come back and help the team win."

Vargas wasn't in the Twins' starting lineup Wednesday in Seattle's 6-5 win, and manager Paul Molitor didn't commit to whether he might be Thursday against right-hander Christian Bergman (3-2, 4.36 ERA) when they wrap up the three-game series.

Bergman will be making his first career appearance against Minnesota.

"Where I think he'll fit in the lineup, we'll use him," Molitor said of Vargas. "When Jorge gets back, we'll see where we're at. We might not see Jorge until Monday."

With an interleague series at San Francisco coming up this weekend, Molitor said the Twins will have to decide whether to keep an extra pitcher or batter.

"Baseball is baseball," Vargas said. "Triple-A to the big leagues is a little different; it's up to the hitters to make adjustments."

A pitcher trying to make adjustments is Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-4, 7.23 ERA), who is scheduled to oppose Bergman on Thursday.

Gibson is 2-0 since his own stint in the minors. Last Friday against the Angels, he had season highs with 5 2/3 innings pitched and six strikeouts.

"I'm trying to stay away from the feeling like one outing or one inning or one pitch means I'm back," Gibson said. "I'm just trying to stay grounded. Getting sent down gave me a chance to reset."

Gibson has had success against Seattle, going 2-2 with a 2.92 ERA in six career starts against them.

He might get a chance to face the Mariners without two their most dangerous hitters. Shortstop Jean Segura, who leads the American League with a .341 batting average, is on the 10-day disabled list with a high right ankle sprain, and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who is tied for the AL lead with 46 RBIs, might miss his second consecutive game due to right calf tightness.

Segura signed a five-year, $70 million contract extension Wednesday.

"I'm really excited about that, for both Jean and the Mariners," Seattle manager Scott Servais said, "but I'll be more excited to get him back in the lineup."



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