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17-inning night leads to day of Twins roster moves

Minnesota Twins catcher Willians Astudillo (64) looks on from the dugout prior to the game against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — La Tortuga is back, and he’s playing second base.

The Twins made a couple of roster moves Wednesday, June 19, in the wake of a 17-inning, 4-3 victory over the Red Sox but still found themselves short of what one might call a regular lineup for the rubber match of a three-game series against the World Series champs.

Willians Astudillo, the fan favorite nicknamed La Tortuga, was recalled to take the place of Marwin Gonzalez, placed on the 10-day injury list Wednesday. Astudillo played 33 games with the Twins this season before being optioned to Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .526 with three home runs, 11 RBIs and a 1.288 OPS in nine games.

Mostly a catcher and third baseman, Astudillo was penciled into Wednesday’s lineup as the second baseman batting eighth, one of three players just up from Rochester in the starting lineup. Rookie Luis Arreaz was at short, and Jake Cave was starting his second game in center in place of Byron Buxton (wrist).

“This is a little different than any other night that we’ve had,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I mean, you definitely spend a lot of time — both pitcher and position player-wise — seeing how everyone is doing, and not just asking once, trying to figure out just exactly where we’re at.”

Seven of Minnesota’s eight starting position players were in for all 17 innings of Tuesday’s win. Astudillo has played two major league games at second, both last year for nine total innings.

“It was a unique night last night,” Baldelli said, “but I do think he’s a pretty good infielder, so he can do it.”

Miguel Sano, who struck out five times in seven at-bats Tuesday, was back at third with the Twins facing Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

Gonzalez, the all-everything utility man, left Tuesday’s game for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. “It’s just something that’s at a point where we need to let it heal. I still think it’s a mild strain more than anything else, so I think we’re going to be OK.”

More moves

Reliever Blake Parker, who pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday, was placed on the emergency family leave list. To take his place, the Twins recalled right-hander Sean Poppen from Rochester. Mostly a starter, Poppen got the call at 3 a.m.

“Dead asleep,” he said. “I’m glad I picked up.”

Poppen, who was in Columbus with the Red Wings, caught a noon flight to MSP to make his major league debut, a likely event considering the Twins used all eight of their relievers Tuesday. They combined to throw the last 11 innings of a game that ended at 12:55 a.m.

“I’m up here for whatever they need — a long relief role, even a short relief role, anything,” said Poppen, 4-0 with a 1.55 earned-run average in five appearances (four starts) since being promoted from Double-A Pensacola.

Poppen, 25, played four seasons at Harvard and was selected by the Twins with a 19th-round pick in the 2016 draft. In four minor league seasons, he’s 24-20 with a 3.93 earned-run average in 76 games, including 67 starts.

Extra relief?

Major League Baseball allows teams to carry 26 active roster players for doubleheaders. Baldelli thinks MLB could help out teams that play long extra-inning games, as well. The Twins played nearly six hours on Tuesday, and two position players had eight at-bats, and three had seven at-bats.

“We do change rules all the time to help teams and players in unique circumstances,” the manager said. “The 17-inning, 6-hour games are unique circumstances. Let’s imagine we’re playing a day game today. … There are physical issues you probably want to take into consideration at that point, and there are very few options.”

One rules change Baldelli wouldn’t favor is starting extra innings with a runner on second, something all minor leagues have done since the 2018 season.

“I like playing the game out and finishing the game,” he said. “It creates other issues, as we know. I just simply enjoy the energy of playing those games, those games you’re forced to win the game. Someone has to win the game.

“It feels like a very easy out to just say, ‘Well, we’ve played this long, but we’re just going to end it now by forcing the odds in someone’s favor.’ … I like playing it out even though we’re sitting here today.”