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Escobar notches two hits in first start

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BALTIMORE -- Eduardo Escobar made his first start of the year at shortstop against the Orioles on Friday, replacing regular shortstop Pedro Florimon and batting ninth.

Escobar responded by going 2-for-4 with an RBI single in Minnesota's 9-5 loss and is hitting .500 (3-for-6) so far this season.

Manager Ron Gardenhire insisted the move was simply to get Escobar playing time and not because Florimon made two errors in the club's opening series against the Tigers. With Escobar starting, only outfielders Wilkin Ramirez and Darin Mastroianni have yet to start a game this season.

"We have to mix it up a little bit and get everybody some at-bats," Gardenhire said. "At some point this weekend Ramirez will probably get a start. Mastroianni isn't ready yet, but we're using him the best we can. Everybody needs to play and we wanted to get Escobar in there."

Florimon fared well at the plate in the three-game series against the Tigers, hitting .375 (3-for-8) with a double and two RBIs. Although he made two errors on routine plays at shortstop, Gardenhire said he hasn't lost faith in the 26-year-old shortstop after just three games.

"It was a little bit rough out there," Gardenhire said. "I don't make excuses for players, but the weather has been rough and it's been cold. He's from Latin America, where he's not used to that cold weather, so I don't know if that had an effect on him catching the ball or what. We saw him play really well all spring."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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