Polanco gets taste of bigs with Santana sidelined

Polanco gets taste of bigs with Santana sidelined

ANAHEIM -- With rookie shortstop Danny Santana unavailable to play on Thursday after sustaining a bone bruise in his left knee, the Twins made a surprise move, recalling infielder Jorge Polanco all the way from Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Right-hander Yohan Pino, who started on Wednesday, was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Polanco.

Polanco made his Major League debut in the Twins' 6-4 loss on Thursday, drawing a four-pitch walk against Angels right-hander Ernesto Frieri. At 20 years and 356 days old, Polanco became the youngest Twins player to make a debut since Joe Mauer, who was four days younger when he debuted in 2004.

"I was excited -- I wanted to hit," said Polanco, who slept only one hour after finding out about the callup. "I wasn't worried too much. I just wanted to have a good at-bat and put the ball in play. But he didn't throw a strike, so I was just taking."

Polanco was hitting .289/.363/.404 with five homers, 12 doubles, three triples and eight stolen bases in 72 games with the Miracle. Polanco, ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLB.com, is the first Twins player recalled from Class A to the Majors since Jim Eisenreich in 1982. He's also the second-youngest player in the Majors behind only Rangers infielder Rougned Odor, who is five months younger than Polanco.

"I saw him in Spring Training, and we all know he's very talented and one of our prospects," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can swing it. He's a little loose defensively, which some young players happen to be. But he has a lot of really good skills. So it's exciting."

Polanco arrived at the airport at 11:30 a.m. PT and was available for Thursday's game against the Angels, but he wasn't in the lineup with Pedro Florimon getting the start at shortstop. Polanco has played 68 games at shortstop this year and one at second base, making 21 errors in 329 chances.

Gardenhire said he's not afraid to play Polanco, despite the fact he's yet to reach Double-A. But the move is expected to be temporary, as the Twins are still waiting to see how serious Santana's knee injury is.

"He's a nice player and he moves around well," Gardenhire said. "He can hit. Defensively, he can get a little loose, but he can pick it. He's a lot like Danny Santana was at the same age. A lot of talent, but can be a little loose in the field. But [former manager] Tom Kelly said he really likes him and the way he goes about. So if I have to play him, I'll play him. I'm not afraid to put him in there."

Pino gave up five runs in three innings against the Angels on Wednesday in his second big league start. The Twins still haven't decided who will start in his place on Monday, but a likely option would be Samuel Deduno moving from long relief back to the rotation for at least one spot start.

"They needed a spot and needed a player, so I'm fine," said Pino, who had a 1.92 ERA with Rochester. "I just want to go down there and pitch and come back."

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.