AP NEWS

Twins working to help Puerto Rico

September 27, 2017

Four Minnesota Twins who represented Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic are working with the team to organize a goodwill drive after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

“Puerto Rico is destroyed,” first baseman Kennys Vargas said. “A lot of people lost everything. We’re trying to do something up here with the guys to get them food and water to stay alive.”

There is talk of a donation truck being set up outside Target Field next weekend for fans to contribute to the cause. Player jerseys could be sold with proceeds going toward humanitarian aid as well.

“After that we might try to send the truck to Miami and then send everything we collect to Puerto Rico,” said Vargas, who is working with fellow Puerto Ricans Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Hector Santiago.

Vargas also is skeptical that the Twins and Cleveland Indians will be able to play a two-game series next April 17-18 at San Juan’s historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which suffered a great deal of damage in the storm as well.

“It will be canceled, I think,” Vargas said. “I would say there won’t be baseball in Puerto Rico for one or two years. Not even winter ball. The stadium got destroyed. The community can’t worry about baseball now. It has to take care of everybody. They have to fix people’s lives first.”

When the season is over, the popular WBC team that lost to Team USA in the championship round is hoping to organize a benefit back home in Puerto Rico. Vargas said Daddy Yankee is among major artists that have been approached about performing.

KEPLER UPDATE

Max Kepler was out of Sunday’s lineup but no additional tests were ordered for an injury near the right fielder’s lower back. Kepler had to leave Saturday’s 10-4 win over Detroit shortly after landing awkwardly on a throw to the plate in the first inning.

Rookie Zack Granite took Kepler’s place in the lineup Sunday, playing left field while Rosario moved to right.

Twins trainer Dave Pruemer told Kepler “it’s just a bruise,” Kepler said, and he was hopeful that a round of treatment would leave him ready to start by today’s series opener at Cleveland.

“I believe that and think it will get better soon,” Kepler said. “I wouldn’t say it’s comfortable (to swing), but it’s manageable.”

Having already lost Miguel Sano’s power bat for the past five weeks and counting, the Twins also were recently forced to play through injury absences to regulars Jason Castro (concussion) and Robbie Grossman (fractured thumb).

Kepler, hitting .244 with a .315 on-base percentage this season, homered twice off a pair of left-handers (CC Sabathia and Daniel Norris) in his previous four games.

“It’s not really the hip, it’s not really the back,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I don’t know if it’s more of a feeling or bruising or strained. Hopefully, we’ll get a better feel the next 48 hours.”

BRIEFLY

Rotations are set for the series in Cleveland. Today’s game will match Bartolo Colon against right-hander Josh Tomlin, Wednesday will match Adelberto Mejia against right-hander Danny Salazar and Thursday will pit Ervin Santana against Carlos Carrasco.

That will give Kyle Gibson at least a week between starts, depending on whether they would rather have him or Jose Berrios start Game 1 of a potential American League division series.