MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins rookie hitting sensation Luis Arraez didn’t hide from the injury that limited him during the American League Division Series loss to the New York Yankees. He couldn’t have even if he wanted to.
Just watching Arraez hobble around the bases, it was obvious that his right ankle was bothering him, lingering effects of a Grade 1 sprain the final weekend of the regular season that threatened to keep him off the playoff roster.
“I did the best I could,” he said. “Obviously my ankle wasn’t 100 percent, so I was just giving my best effort.”
Even if his right ankle wasn’t 100 percent, his bat was.
While most of the Bomba Squad struggled mightily against the Yankees, the 22-year-old from Venezuela was a rock in the batter’s box, just like he has been since being called up from the minors during the season. He shook off the pain at the plate, going 5 for 11 in the three playoff games, and endearing himself to the fans base as one of the lone bright spots for the Twins amid a sea of disappointment.
“I didn’t care it was hurting and that I wasn’t 100 percent,” Arraez said. “I was just trying to do my best to help the team win. I wasn’t thinking about pain or anything like that. It was just exciting to be here.”
Nobody would have expected Arraez to be in that spot even six months ago. Not even himself.
After being called up back on May 17 — a surprise move considering he had only been in Triple-A Rochester for a few days at that point after being called up from Double-A Pensacola — Arraez impressed everyone with his aggressive approach at the plate.
Though he was sent back to the minors a couple of weeks later, he was called back up soon after and made himself too valuable for the Twins to send back down again.
“I wasn’t expecting for them to call me up as soon as they did,” Arraez said. “They did, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
So much so that Arraez eventually supplanted starting second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and continued to impress manager Rocco Baldelli, who gushed about him at every turn.
“He’s a pretty special young player,” Baldelli said over the weekend. “I don’t think there’s one staff member that has any concern about Luis. I think he’s going to be perfectly great.”
Arraez proved to be just that throughout the playoffs, instilling hope for the future, despite the fact that the Twins bowed to the Yankees once again.
“I feel proud of myself and happy that I was given this opportunity to be up here, and (I) tried to help as much as possible,” Arraez said. “(The Yankees) came up on top and they won the series. It’s a game, so just move forward.”
There are a lot of young players returning for the Twins next season, and with Arraez helping lead the way, it’s hard not to feel like this was just the beginning of something much bigger.
“I think this is a memory that I am going to carry with me throughout my life,” Arraez said. “We lost, but I felt good (with) where we were at.”