The Twins took care of a little paperwork on Friday, exercising outfielder Jason Kubel’s $5.25 million option for 2011 and declining a $5 million option on infielder Nick Punto.
Punto, 32, hit just .238/.313/.302 with only one home run and 11 doubles in 252 at-bats this past year while earning $4 million. That stat line didn’t exactly deserve a raise, so the Twins cut him loose over a week before they had to and will allow him to test the free agent market.
It sounds like Punto is open to returning to the Twins in 2011 at a lesser salary and manager Ron Gardenhire does like his infield glove and versatility. But it’s too early in the offseason to know for sure if he will be back.
“We’ll just see what develops from there,” Punto’s agent Jeff Caufield told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, shortly after learning that the option was declined.
The Phillies attempted to sign Punto back in 2008 before the Twins offered him a two-year contract with an option for 2011. The Fightins might have interest again with an aging infield.
The Twins have placed third baseman Miguel Sano on the 10-day disabled list with a stress reaction in his left shin, per the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal. Sano left Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks after running out a ground ball double play in the fourth inning and was held out of Sunday’s lineup.
Sano, 24, is batting .267/.356/.514 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI in 475 plate appearances this season. The Twins are five back of the Indians for first place in the AL Central and currently hold a tie with the Angels for the second Wild Card slot.
Ehire Adrianza got the start at third base during Sunday’s win and could handle the hot corner while Sano is out. Eduardo Escobar could also get some time at third.
Giants catcher Buster Posey was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning during Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Phillies. It was a first-pitch fastball from closer Hector Neris, who had just entered the game. The Giants then had the bases loaded, but Pablo Sandoval struck out to end the inning and the Giants went on to lose 5-2.
After the game, Posey said he thinks Neris hit him on purpose, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Posey thinks Neris thought he couldn’t get him out.
Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Neris said “absolutely not” when asked if he threw at Posey on purpose. The rest of the Phillies clubhouse, per Zolecki, “Say whaaat?!”
Here’s a link to the video of Posey getting hit. Now that we have automatic intentional walks, pitchers don’t even have to risk throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone to intentionally walk a hitter, so if Neris felt he couldn’t get Posey out, there was still no need to hit him. Furthermore, Neris isn’t going to hit Posey to load the bases and put the go-ahead run on first in a 4-2 ballgame. Sandoval has been a much worse hitter than Posey, for sure, but Neris would lose the platoon advantage if he felt like facing Sandoval instead, anyway.
Getting hit hurts, so it’s understandable Posey may have been salty in the moment. But after the game, when the pain has subsided and he’s had time to think over everything, there’s no way Posey should still come to the conclusion that Neris was trying to hit him on purpose.