MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Twins confident they'll rebound from slow start

Molitor says club still searching for identity in young season

Twins confident they'll rebound from slow start

MILWAUKEE -- The Minnesota Twins didn't panic when they started the season 0-9. And they won't panic now.

The Twins could score more runs. That would be helpful. But they're not going to panic.

Minnesota had an inexplicably slow start, offensively, scoring 14 runs in those first nine games. The Twins recovered to win four straight; showing admirable resiliency. But since then, they have lost two straight to the rebuilding Brewers, including Wednesday night's 10-5 loss at Miller Park.

Manager Paul Molitor was asked what he would have to see to believe that his team had turned the corner. Molitor politely responded that Minnesota was not yet at a position to make turning the corner an immediately viable concept.

"I don't think we're at the corner, so which way we're going to turn is not critical now," Molitor said. "The sooner we get to the corner, if we're going the right way, the happier I'll be. But I think those questions are a little further out as we kind of gain an identity for this year's team.

"T.K. [Tom Kelly, former Twins manager] was one of those guys who talked about the 30-to-40-games thing [before a team's worth could be fairly judged]. You know, you don't panic when somebody's got 30 at-bats or somebody's not getting guys out or whatever it is, you try to trust in what you've prepared to do here.

"We've had some changeable parts because of injuries and things. But I think that all of our games, except for one, have been really competitive. It's disappointing that we haven't won more of those close games, but it's a good sign that we're competing well every day."

When a team is struggling, circumstances seem to conspire against it. In the Twins' case, their new designated hitter, Byung Ho Park, leads the club in home runs with four, and he hit homers in back-to-back games against Milwaukee on Monday and Tuesday.

But with the Twins playing two Interleague games in Milwaukee and three in Washington after that, there will be no DH, and thus, no spot in Minnesota's lineup for Park.

"I don't dwell on those types of things," Molitor said. "The reality of it is, we're playing five Interleague games in a row, and it's going to be tough to get him in there."

There was no particular virtue in Wednesday night's loss, other than the fact that the Twins did come back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game in the fifth on home runs by left fielder Oswaldo Arcia and center fielder Eddie Rosario.

Rosario's solo homer

"We hung in there, we got a couple of big home runs by Arcia and Rosario to get us back in the game and then we just couldn't contain the second half of the game," Molitor said.

This was a different sort of defeat for Minnesota. It was not the result of a shortage of offense, but a series of bullpen shortcomings, combined with some shaky fielding by Arcia that did in the Twins. The Brewers' 10 runs and 13 hits were both season highs for them.

"The loss is frustrating because you have chances and you battle and you find a way to get even, and then it's disappointing," Molitor said. "Sloppiness always concerns a manager, when you don't execute, we know errors are part of the game, but you'd like to clean that up the best that you can."

So there was plenty of room for disappointment as the Twins' record dipped to 4-11. But there isn't room for panic. Minnesota made a 13-game improvement in 2015, finished second in the extremely competitive American League Central, and was in the hunt for a Wild Card berth until the final weekend of the season. And then the Twins made offseason improvements. They are struggling some now, but that will be a temporary condition.

This one loss did take the edge off a homecoming for Molitor. He spent the first 15 seasons of his Hall of Fame playing career with the Brewers.

"It's been a long time, but I do enjoy coming back here, because it does rekindle an enjoyable chapter of my life, playing here for the Brewers for 15 years," Molitor said.

"But, you know, roles have changed and time has passed, and the focus is more about coming in here as a member of the Twins organization and finding a way to win. But it is fun to think back a little bit."

The "finding a way to win" aspect has been difficult for the Twins this April, but the sample size is small, the season is young. This club will be good enough to turn the corner toward much better results.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.