Notes: Rookies struggling on defense

Notes: Rookies struggling on defense

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire knew that by adding two rookies, Alexi Casilla and Brian Buscher, to the club's infield there would be an adjustment period.

And so far, it's proven to be just as the skipper predicted.

It's been a steep learning curve for the club's newest second baseman and third baseman, mostly in regard to their defense. The club has committed 14 errors in its last 14 games, with Casilla and Buscher combining for four of those miscues.

"That's expected," Gardenhire said of the mistakes. "They're both working on their defense, and that's what we're after. I'm just going to play them and see what they can do."

The main concern regarding Casilla continues to be his tendency to rush certain plays.

One such instance came in the seventh inning of Friday night's game. Casey Blake hit into a fielder's choice, but rather than recognizing that he would not be able to get two outs, Casilla rushed a throw to first and allowed yet another run to score.

"He wasn't going to get the guy and he still heaved the ball," Gardenhire said. "He just needs to say, 'I don't have it, it's a slow-hit ball, and we're only going to get one out.' Make sure you get one. Those are the things you need to talk about."

The two errors that Casilla recorded in Friday night's game certainly didn't help matters. But for every miscue that Casilla has made, he's also shown the club glimpses of plays that were lacking with the oft-injured Luis Castillo.

"You saw him get that fly ball down the right-field line the other day that we haven't gotten in a while," Gardenhire said. "He's going to do those things. He's also going to do what you saw last night. Hopefully, he can keep those [mistakes] to a minimum.

"The same thing with Buscher, he's going to make some plays. He's going to miss some balls over there, probably. But he puts together good at-bats, so we're going to see if he can get on a little roll here and get comfortable and go from there."

Offensively, the concern hasn't been as great as the defense. Casilla was hitting .264 entering Saturday's game while Buscher has hit .286 over his first five games.

Both Casilla and Buscher were in the starting lineup on Saturday. Gardenhire said he's not afraid to use both of them together in the field on a consistent basis.

"I think that these guys can go out there and get it done," Gardenhire said. "We're going to see mistakes and we're going to have to play through some of this. But it's gonna happen."

Scary moment: The Twins' victory on Saturday wasn't without a slight scare when shortstop Jason Bartlett got banged up in the bottom fo the eighth inning.

Bartlett was sliding into second base trying to break up a double play, but he somehow took the brunt of the collision to his face. Bartlett remained down on the ground for a bit. When he got up, it was clear that he had sustained numerous scratches on his face, including between his eyes and on his nose, and another gash on his right arm. But he was able to stay in the game for the top of the ninth.

"He looks like a warrior," Gardenhire said. "He went at it pretty hard out there. He came out looking like a strawberry patch. I think he knocked the guy down, now he's just got to figure out how not to get his face involved."

Unknown foe: The Twins spent most of Saturday morning preparing for a challenge that's been posed to them quite often this season -- facing a pitcher making his Major League debut.

That was the case on Saturday with Indians left-hander Aaron Laffey making his first big league appearance.

The Twins have some scouting reports on the pitcher, but Gardenhire acknowledged that their information was limited.

The only thing that was certain was the fact that the club will face yet another left-hander pitcher. It's been a trend this season that whenever teams call up new pitchers to face the Twins, they've all been southpaws. And the club is just 15-17 against left-handed starters this season.

"It sure seems like it, doesn't it?" Gardenhire said of seeing so many lefties. "That's what these guys have. They sent two lefties down, [Jeremy] Sowers and [Cliff] Lee. This team is loaded with lefties, and we've seen plenty of that."

Aiding the cause: To help support the American Red Cross of the Twin Cities following the tragedy with the I-35W bridge collapse, a 27-liter bottle of 2003 Charles Krug Cabaret Sauvignon was signed by the Minnesota Twins players and will be sold to the highest bidder via a silent auction.

The bottle will be on display at Morton's, The Steakhouse, located at 555 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Bids will be taken in-person or by calling 612-673-9700.

Twins tidbits: Catcher Chris Heintz was hit by a pitch in Rochester's contest against Syracuse on Thursday night. Heintz broke a bone in his right wrist and will be out of action for three to four weeks. To replace Heintz on Rochester's roster, catcher Korey Feiner was promoted from Double-A New Britain. ... The Twins do not have a player hitting above .300 entering Saturday's game. As a team, the Twins are hitting .266, the eighth-highest average in the American League. ... Twins catchers have thrown out 37.7 percent of runners attempting to steal this season, the best percentage in the Major Leagues.

Down on the farm: Rochester split its doubleheader with Pawtucket on Friday. Jose Morales went 3-for-3 with an RBI in the Red Wings' 7-4 victory in Game 1, while left-hander Ryan Mullins allowed five runs, one earned, over 2 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss in Game 2. ... Yohan Pino allowed just one earned run over eight innings as New Britain defeated Akron, 5-1. ... Jeff Manship gave up seven runs, only two of them earned, over 4 2/3 innings in Class A Fort Myers' 13-4 loss to Lakeland. ... Daniel Bert went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Class A Beloit's 6-2 win at Dayton.

Coming up: Scott Baker (5-4, 4.88) will face the Indians for the first time this season in a 1:10 p.m. CT contest on Sunday at the Metrodome. Baker will face Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona (13-5, 3.27).

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.