Rivas expected to fill hole at second
On the DL since June 1 because of a bad back, Rivas was going to start a minor-league rehabilitation assignment this weekend and join the team on June 24 for a three-game series in Milwaukee. But with Nick Punto (strained right hamstring) on the disabled list for at least a few more weeks and Brent Abernathy unable to throw or hit because of a sore right shoulder, Minnesota is short on second basemen.
To make matters worse, shortstop Juan Castro fouled a ball off his left ankle during Thursday night's game against San Francisco. He's very sore and will be out for a few days.
Abernathy, who was injured when he ran into the wall next to the bullpen while chasing a foul ball during Tuesday night's game, will be placed on the DL to make room for Rivas. Luis Rodriguez, who has been playing mostly at second, will play short until Castro is ready.
The 26-year-old Rivas -- once thought to be a rising star -- lost his job to Punto in May. Rivas became the everyday second baseman in 2001, but injuries, inconsistency and inattentiveness drove the coaching staff crazy. Michael Cuddyer replaced him as the starter down the stretch last season, and he essentially regained the job this spring by default.
But Rivas, batting just .203 with three RBI in 69 at-bats this year, is fast.
"We like speed," Gardenhire said.
He's also one of the quickest pivots in the game.
"No one turns the double play like he can," Gardenhire said.
And, despite a steady decline in overall production since his rookie season, Rivas does have some pop in his bat. He hit 10 homers in 336 at-bats last year, not a bad number for a middle infielder.
After batting .266 with seven homers, 70 runs, 47 RBI and 31 steals as a rookie, Rivas might have created expectations that were too high for him to live up to.
"Maybe I should just let him play and not try to expect him to be Superman," Gardenhire said.
With Punto still hurt, it's possible that Rivas could re-establish himself as a regular this summer.
"If he's playing well enough, then he'll be out there," Gardenhire said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press