MINNEAPOLIS — Nick Gordon didn’t sleep much on Friday night, excited about the opportunity he would have in front of him to fulfill a longtime dream. As a kid, he grew up dreaming of being a shortstop in the big leagues. He idolized hall of famer Derek Jeter, a one-time teammate of his father, Tom Gordon.
But when the 25-year-old Twins rookie finally fulfilled half of that dream earlier this year — becoming a big leaguer — it wasn’t as a shortstop. It would take Gordon months to get a chance to start at his natural position. Gordon, who was drafted as a shortstop, has appeared at that spot in a few major-league games, but he didn’t get a chance to start at the position until Saturday.
“I remember right after I signed, I walked on the field for the first time. I was kind of like, ‘Hey man, I definitely can’t wait to get this feeling again,’ ” Gordon said. “To go out there, just when I got my first groundball in warmups, I looked at the fans, just thought, ‘Oh man, this is definitely what I dreamed of.’ ”
So, why has it taken so long for Gordon to get a crack at shortstop, especially with Andrelton Simmons not likely to be in the Twins’ plans moving forward? And will there be more of it?
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the plan is still for the Twins to move Gordon, who they view as an option both in the infield and outfield, around the field and fit in at-bats for him where they can.
“I don’t think the goal is to send him out to shortstop several times a week every week from here on out,” Baldelli said. “He may. There may be a week where he is, but I still want to see him move around the field. I think there’s still a lot of benefit to that, and frankly, it’s easier to do that when we can put him in different spots.”
There’s also the matter of Simmons, a four-time Gold Glover at the position. While Simmons hasn’t provided much offensive production this season, the Twins see plenty of value in having the veteran as a defensive anchor in the infield behind their young pitching staff.
“I know there have been some offensive struggles this year, but the defensive work that he puts in, it matters,” Baldelli said of Simmons. “It matters in a big way to a lot of our guys, and the ability for him to make plays and finish innings doesn’t just help us win a particular game. It’s helping a pitcher go from pitching three and a third (innings) because we couldn’t get through an inning to getting through five. That’s a big deal, and I think there’s a lot of value in that.”
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The bassinet has become a hot topic of conversation within the Twins’ clubhouse, Baldelli said, with so many players having recently welcomed newborns.
Baldelli can now relate, as his first child, Louisa, was born last Monday. Baldelli said he has talked a lot recently with catcher Mitch Garver, who welcomed son Gamble in July, and third baseman Josh Donaldson, whose daughter Aubrey was born last year.
“We have a lot of parents here. We’ve got some guys that are young guys that have a few kids and are good parents, from everything that I’ve seen,” Baldelli said. “I can learn something from our players in this instance.”
The manager also said pup Bowie, an 85-pound Beauceron, has adjusted well to having a new addition in the home.
“Bowie sniffed some blankets before we showed up and has reacted as well as we could possibly hope,” Baldelli said. “I think a little confused in feeling out the situation at first and now she just curls up pretty close to (wife) Allie and the baby wherever they’re at. Actually, the baby, (Bowie is) probably following the baby around a little bit right now, which is kind of cool.”
The Twins will head to New York for a one-day road trip to make up a game against the Yankees that was postponed by rain last month. John Gant will start for the Twins, and Baldelli said the rest of the team’s starting pitchers will stay behind in Minnesota The game starts at 1:05 p.m.