Minnesota Twins Max Kepler a Ray of Sunshine in Spring Training
Max Kepler had to think a while when manager Rocco Baldelli asked him about the last time he hit leadoff. Kepler thinks it was in Rookie-level Elizabethton, where he last played in 2012. But after hitting two homers out of the leadoff spot in Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, Kepler showed that it might not take much time for him to get used to it.
Opening the game in his first at-bat of the spring, Kepler launched a 1-2 offering from Boston right-hander Ryan Weber over the right-field wall to give the Twins an early 1-0 lead. One inning later, he turned on a 1-0 pitch from left-hander Dedgar Jimenez for his second homer of the game.
Kepler, who signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the Twins earlier this spring, has hit at least 17 homers in each of his three full Major League seasons, but he entered camp with the goal of being more aggressive at the plate.
Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco were two leading candidates to hit leadoff that Baldelli identified after Sunday's game. No one player on the Twins' roster clearly stands out after the departure of on-base leaders Joe Mauer and Robbie Grossman from last season's team.
Source: Do-Hyoung Park, MLB