Before joining the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos to start the 2019, infielder Luis Arraez stopped at Target Field, where a bat stuck out of a block of concrete in the stadium’s foundation.
For over nine seasons, the bat - belonging to Hall of Famer Rod Carew - had remained firmly in place. Construction workers didn’t dare break the concrete, and scores of incoming Twins had tried to remove the bat, but it remained in place.
Arráez pulled out the bat with ease.
“I’ve seen little guys, sluggers, even a handful of pitchers go down into that basement to yank that thing out,” said current Tigers and former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Once I left Minnesota, the guys would always let me know about who was trying now.”
“The hardest part was getting the bat through security and onto the plane,” Arráez said through a translator.
While few have suggested cause and effect, Arráez has been on a tear this season. In his 38 games with Pensacola and three games at AAA-Rochester, he has batted a combined .344 with a .413 OBP and more walks (19) than strikeouts (15).
And in the four games following his major league call up, Arráez has yet to be held hitless, with seven hits (including a home run), two walks, and zero whiffs in his 14 plate appearances.
“Some of those guys said strange things about that bat,” Gardenhire said. “Molly [former Twins manager Paul Molitor] told me last year that Logie [Logan Morrison] would go down once a week to take another crack at the thing.”
While only time will tell if Arráez’s hot start can continue, it’s worth noting that in the past four games, he leads all major leaguers in Extra Contact Appropriations/Liners Into Bare Roughage, an expansion of BABIP that measures the game impact of hard-hit balls that fall for hits. While a 1.485 XCALIBR is considered practically impossible to maintain, we can do nothing but wait and see.
“It would’ve been nice to see Mauer wield it,” Gardenhire added. “Joe wouldn’t even give it a pull. He said it wouldn’t be fair to his teammates.”