Trevor Plouffe

Twins need to find a role for sudden slugger Trevor Plouffe

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2004 first-round pick Trevor Plouffe, long considered a disappointment by Twins fans, hit three homers and walked four times in a doubleheader for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday.

Despite spending almost all of May in the majors, he now has 15 homers in his 45 games for the Red Wings.  Overall, he’s hitting .308/.385/.663 in 169 at-bats.

Which makes it baffling that he’s still in the minors with the Twins’ need for offense.  Plouffe more than held his own in his May callup.  He batted just .200, but that came with three homers and eight walks in 60 at-bats.  He drove in 10 runs despite starting only 15 games.

Unfortunately, manager Ron Gardenhire soured on his defense after watching him make three errors in just a handful of games at shortstop and pretty much refused to play him there any longer.  Since getting sent down, Plouffe has been used all over the place.  He’s started games at all four infield spots and both outfielder corners for Rochester.  Yesterday, Gardenhire made the call himself, telling the Red Wings to shift him to first base.

From the sound of things, Plouffe will stay at first base for now.  If he gets comfortable there quickly, then he could join the Twins right after the All-Star break and take over as Justin Morneau’s primary replacement.

Still, the Twins can’t be looking at Plouffe as a long-term option there.  He does have the range to handle shortstop in the majors, and ideally, he still might end up at the position next year.  Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla both seem better equipped to play second.

CC Sabathia wants to pitch beyond 2017

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
Rich Gagnon/Getty Images
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CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.

Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”

The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”

Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.

Red Sox lose on Mark Teixeira’s walkoff grand slam, but still clinch AL East

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Dustin Pedroia #15 and pinch runner Marco Hernandez #41 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after both scored in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 28, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.

A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.

For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.

This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.