The Minnesota Twins are toward the bottom of the AL in home runs, batting average and slugging percentage, though that could change with the addition of Kendrys Morales.
A day after the Twins signed the first baseman/designated hitter to a one-year, prorated $12 million contract, there's no word on when he'll be in the lineup as they head to Toronto for Monday night's series opener against the Blue Jays.
"Why not the Twins?" Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan said. "I read there were probably a handful of clubs that were chasing Kendrys. We were ahead of many of those clubs in the standings."
They cleared room for him by designating struggling outfielder Jason Kubel for assignment. Since Morales is out of options and isn't injured, Minnesota immediately added him to its 25-man roster.
Morales, who has been in Miami working out while waiting to sign, hit .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs in 156 games with Seattle last season.
"It wasn't easy for a baseball player to watch baseball games when he knows he can play," Morales said. "But you have to be mentally tough and be prepared so when this opportunity does come around, you're ready to do what you gotta do."
The Twins (29-32), batting .245 with 49 homers, have dropped three of four after Sunday's 14-5 loss to Houston.
The Blue Jays (38-26), meanwhile, were cooled off with consecutive 5-0 losses to St. Louis over the weekend after winning 15 of 17. They had previously been shut out only once all season.
One of the top hitting teams in the AL, Toronto was held to a combined seven hits in those two defeats as stars Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went 0 for 14.
"It's hard to put a finger on it," manager John Gibbons said.
His club will try to get back on track against Ricky Nolasco.
After an awful start to the season, Nolasco (4-5, 5.65 ERA) is seeking his third straight win after allowing four runs in seven innings of Wednesday's 6-4 home victory over Milwaukee. Aside from a three-run homer in the seventh, it was a relatively smooth outing.
The right-hander had previously gone six strong innings in a 6-1 win at Yankee Stadium on May 30 but has generally struggled on the road, going 2-3 with a 7.51 ERA and .375 opponent batting average in seven starts.
He has a 3.09 ERA without a decision in two career starts against the Blue Jays with both coming in Toronto. Much of the Blue Jays' lineup has had plenty of success against Nolasco with Jose Reyes batting .327 in 49 at_bats with three home runs. Dioner Navarro (7 for 15), Juan Francisco (5 for 11) and Melky Cabrera (6 for 16) have all homered against him.
Nolasco will be opposed by R.A. Dickey, who had possibly his worst start of the season in Minnesota on April 17. Dickey (6-4, 4.25) surrendered five runs and seven hits with five walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-0 defeat.
Kurt Suzuki (4 for 11) and Brian Dozier (3 for 9) have left the yard against the right-hander.
Since moving back to the AL prior to last season, Dickey is 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA against Minnesota.
Dickey has overcome a trying start to go 5-1 with a 3.28 ERA in his last eight outings, including Wednesday's 8-2 victory in Detroit. The knuckleballer struggled with his command, surrendering two runs and seven hits while walking four in five innings.
He's been substantially better at home with a 5-1 record and 3.48 ERA in eight starts.
The Associated Press News Service
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