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Twinkie Town Q&A: What to expect from Nelson Cruz and the Twins

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We asked TJ Gorsegner from our Minnesota sister site some questions about this series with the Twins

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

In preparation for the Mariners’ three-game series with the Twins, we asked TJ Gorsegner from Twinkie Town to give us the inside scoop on a few players of intrigue, Minnesota’s chances for glory, and curses. To read Matthew’s Q&A on their site, click here.

Q: How quickly did you fall in love with Nelson Cruz, and how did you even live before he arrived in Minnesota?

A: Somehow I figured you would ask me about Cruz. Glad you didn’t disappoint.

We really, really like him. He fits into a relative tradition for the Twins of adding a big bopper in his late career years, although Cruz is perhaps the best of this list. Jim Thome is his main competition there, FYI. Anyway, Cruz is great. He’s a clear leader and mentor in the clubhouse, especially for Miguel Sanó, who really seemed to need it. That is a lot of words to say that we really like him.

Q: On Opening Day I saw a quick glimpse of Josh Donaldson’s new hairdo, then I saw him almost immediately get injured. Are those things related?

A: Probably not. No matter what kind of hair he is sporting, his legs are still made out of spaghetti noodles. He’s had something keep him out of almost every game since he signed the big Twins contract, and a lot of fans are getting fed up. If he can make it back after this IL stint, stay healthy, and make an impact, all will be forgiven, but if you believe that will happen, lets talk to a real estate agent about a bridge, as they say.

Q: What will it take to free Willians Astudillo? What would be his best everyday position?

A: Astudillo is a pretty okay MLB catcher. He’s not great, but on many teams, he would be their number two guy. At this point, we are spoiled with both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers, but if either is hurt, Astudillo is going to be playing the short side of a platoon. Until then, he becomes some kind of rotund super-utility guy. His second-best positions would have to be the infield corners, but he’s literally played every position except shortstop as a pro. Yes, we have been lobbying to get him a game at short. Oh, speaking of Nelson Cruz, did you know he takes a second baseman’s glove to NL parks? We just learned this, and it sparked a discussion of Cruz at second and Astudillo at short. Do you know how much I would pay to see that?

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Anyway, as it stands now, Astudillo is basically the second utility guy on the bench, behind Luis Arráez. Arráez was going to play every day anyhow, but with Donaldson out, expect to see Arráez moving around the diamond to spell Andrelton Simmons and Jorge Polanco, and Astudillo probably gets into three out of every five games whenever one of those four guys is on the IL.

Q: Is Alex Kiriloff going to contribute this year, and if so, how much?

A: Yeah, probably.

He’s one of the top prospects in the organization, and Royce Lewis is missing the year for medical reasons. Kirilloff made his debut in the playoffs last season, although that arguably said more about the lack of remaining OF depth than his skill set, but the coaching staff spoke very highly of him.

This spring he had a very rough time of it. Most fans assumed he had the inside track for the left field job, but even if that was the case, he certainly didn’t earn it. With Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave both having good springs, and Brent Rooker also outperforming AK, it wasn’t surprising that he got a bit more MiLB seasoning. Even if you don’t assume there are service time games being played. Add that in, and yeah, another couple weeks across the river is probably a no-brainer.

The thing is though, Byron Buxton is a very fragile man. Jake Cave and Max Kepler can both cover center, but are the regular corner guys. That means any Buxton injury is an opportunity for the hottest available outfielder, regardless of position. Kirilloff will likely force his way up sooner rather than later, and he has a very good chance to earn a spot for good once he does.

Q: What, in your opinion, would be the biggest thing that prevents the Twins from reaching their full potential? Do you think their full potential is a World Series?

A: Have you heard of our curse?

Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS Photo by Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Seriously, yes, this team has World Series potential, but they do have to win a playoff game first.

The biggest issue the past few years has been injuries coming at bad times. A couple years ago we had an Uber driver start a playoff game at Yankee Stadium. Alex Kirilloff was called up last year for the playoffs due to injuries. If the Twins can get that out of the way early, and get healthy at the right time — like the Yankees have the last couple seasons — that will go a long way.