Vargas seeing limited at-bats in Classic

Vargas seeing limited at-bats in Classic

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins continue to have their players see action in the World Baseball Classic, as Kennys Vargas homered for Team Puerto Rico on Saturday, while right-hander Ervin Santana was the losing pitcher for Team Dominican Republic against Team USA late Saturday night.

Vargas went 2-for-5 in Puerto Rico's 13-2 win over Venezuela, including a two-run shot that had an exit veloctiy of 114.4, per Statcast™. It was the hardest-hit homer by a Twins player in the Statcast™ era dating back to 2015.

But Vargas has only had eight at-bats with undefeated Puerto Rico in the Classic, which is a concern for Twins manager Paul Molitor, as Vargas is competing for the everyday designated hitter role with ByungHo Park. Park has been Minnesota's most impressive hitter this spring, but Vargas still has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster.

Molitor, though, said there's still time for Vargas to win the DH job when he returns either on Tuesday or Thursday, depending on how his team fares against the Netherlands.

The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

"I'm sure it's tricky to find him at-bats when they're trying to win," Molitor said. "I don't know if disappointed is the right word, but it concerns me some he hasn't seen a lot of live pitching or had game situations."

Molitor said he's also heard that right-hander Jose Berrios isn't expected to start for Puerto Rico on Monday, as he's likely to be held back to be available in the championship game. Left-hander Hector Santiago, though, could pitch in relief on Monday.

Santana made his lone start of the Classic on Saturday, going 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, including a two-run homer from Giancarlo Stanton. Santana threw 68 pitches and is expected to return to Twins camp on Monday.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.