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Pinto Needs to Play

At 12:10 today, the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers will play the fourth and final game of their series. Samuel Deduno will take the mound for the Twins which means that Josmil Pinto’s catching tutorial will continue.

More important, Josmil Pinto’s bat will be in the Twins starting lineup. Inexplicably that has been the case only one time since May 17th.

Pinto is easily one of the top hitters on a Twins roster that right now is finding it very difficult to score runs. It seems like it would be an easy decision to get him into the lineup most days of the week (certainly five out of seven games), but for some reason, Pinto has not been playing.

Attached Image: Josmil Pinto hit2.jpg

Photo by Betsy Bissen

Here are the Twins OPS leaders through Tuesday’s game:

  • Eduardo Escobar – .893
  • Josmil Pinto – .806
  • Brian Dozier – .802
  • Kurt Suzuki - .769
  • Trevor Plouffe - .740

There are several reasons why this bothers me that I will touch on, but I’ll also share a very easy way to remedy the situation.

Twins Offensive Struggles
The Twins bats have really been struggling the last week or so. In their last seven games, they have scored just 12 total runs. They have scored two runs or less in six of those seven games. The team needs as many good hitters in the lineup as they can find.

Josmil Pinto is hitting .241/.351/.455 (.806) with seven home runs. He has shown an ability to take quality at bats while showing power, uses the whole field and drives in runs.

Prospects Should Play
It’s a commonly held belief. Prospects need to play. They need game situations to learn how to react and respond to various events throughout a game. Sitting on the bench for more than a game or two makes no sense to their development.

Right now, the Twins have two players that were generally considered Top 10 or Top 15 prospects in the Twins organization coming into the season on their roster. They are currently spending a lot of time getting slivers while riding the pine on the big league bench. Danny Santana could be the shortstop of the future, yet he finds himself either sitting or playing centerfield. Pinto, as we already mentioned, has made one start in the last dozen days. How is this positive for the players, or for the team?

No DH in the NL
Last week, the Twins played five games in San Diego and San Francisco, and Pinto played in just one of those games. Personally, I think he should have played one game in each series, but this is at least understandable since there is no DH in the National League parks.

Suzuki Factor
When Kurt Suzuki signed with the Twins in the offseason, the assumption was that he would split time at catcher with Pinto, mentoring him along the way. However, Suzuki has been one of the better hitters in the Twins lineup all season. Though he has slumped of late, he is hitting nearly .300 and getting on base 36% of the time. Suzuki certainly deserves to play and should be in the lineup four or five days a week.

That said, if they’re committed to Pinto at all as a catcher of the future, he needs to get more reps. He needs to catch twice a week.

Two or Three Catchers
Ron Gardenhire has said several times that he has no problem having both Suzuki and Pinto in the lineup. However, simply put, it has not been happening. That’s the reality.

A Simple Answer
#1 – Name Kurt Suzuki the starting catcher. This has already done and we have seen it in action.

#2 – Name Josmil Pinto the primary designated hitter. This means he is no longer the backup catcher… in games that Suzuki starts at catcher.

#3 – Call up Chris Herrmann to be the backup catcher. I know. He’s been up twice already this year, and he has completely struggled with the bat. However, he can play three outfield positions (and could play first base, too) and be the backup catcher.

#4 – Pinto can still catch Samuel Deduno. On those days, Suzuki can be the backup catcher, and Herrmann can be the fifth outfielder.

I know. We don’t want three catchers on the roster, but more important, I would like to see Josmil Pinto in the Twins starting lineup at least five times a week. When the offense is struggling, get as many quality bats in the lineup as possible.

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