OAKLAND -- The Twins knew that they would have to endure their share of ups and downs with 22-year-old center fielder Carlos Gomez. Tuesday night was one of those lows. Gomez's rough night at the plate, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in the Twins' 5-4 victory over the A's, earned him a day off on Wednesday. It was the first time that Gomez has sat all season.
"He really fought it last night," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't want him to go up there and try to make up for last night. Let him sit back and relax. Maybe help us late in the ballgame here and he'll be back out there tomorrow. We'll just give him a day to regroup." Denard Span got the start at center in place of Gomez. It's the first time that Span will have played his natural position during his callup. Tuesday was not an anomaly, as Gomez has endured his share of struggles at the plate recently. He has just six hits in his last 44 plate appearances. He hasn't drawn a walk during that time, giving him a .136 on-base percentage over that span. That's not exactly what the Twins were hoping to see from their leadoff hitter. But Gardenhire stated again Wednesday that there are no plans to make any changes to the lineup and move Gomez from his table-setter spot. "He needs at-bats more than anything else," Gardenhire said. "Where are you going to put him, one or nine? We're gong to let the young man get at-bats. He's had some really good ones and some ugly ones. You know what, you can put him [ninth], but he's going to have to bat one way or another. The more at-bats the guy gets as a young kid, he's going to get better." Despite the Twins' willingness to let Gomez go through some struggles, there are specific things that the team wants him to improve on. That includes putting together better at-bats and learning to alter his swing with two strikes -- something he didn't do on Tuesday night. "He's got to shorten his swing," Gardenhire said. "He's swinging way too hard right now, and last night you could see that. He looked like he was trying to hit a ball to the moon." While Gomez has scuffled lately, Span has looked more consistent offensively. He entered Wednesday's game having batted .222 in 27 at-bats and having a .300 on-base percentage. But Span is still expected to be the outfielder that is sent down when Michael Cuddyer is activated from the disabled list on Friday for the first game against the Rangers in Texas. Instead, the Twins seem willing to ride the waves with Gomez. He's provided excitement with some of his diving catches in the outfield, and when he's on the basepaths he's a huge threat. He's stolen an American League-leading nine bases so far this year. So now the team wants to see if he can start to find more consistency offensively. "He's going to have his nights where you have to sit back and say, 'Hey let's relax a little bit. Sit back and think about what you did last night and go back at it,'" Gardenhire said. "Today is one of those. He just got out of whack last night."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.