Saints’ Jermaine Palacios gets another outfield look in 5-1 win over Indianapolis – Twin Cities

When it comes to his tenure in the Twins’ organization, infielder Jermaine Palacios appeared destined to be remembered as the player traded to Tampa Bay for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi in 2018.

Yet here he is back in the organization at the age of 25 as a member of the Saints. And during the past week, he was more than willing to take one for his old/new team.

Lamenting the life of a Triple-A manager early in the Saints’ just-concluded series with the Indianapolis Indians at CHS Field, manager Toby Gardenhire talked about one day having five outfielders, the next day having two.

With Trevor Larnach and Kyle Garlick called up by the Twins and Jake Cave sidelined with a sore back, Gardenhire had no choice but to get creative.

Enter Palacios.

He’s primarily a shortstop and a good all-around athlete, so Gardenhire felt comfortable calling on him. In addition, Palacios played a few games in the outfield in winter ball following the 2020-21 season.

“The hard part about it is we haven’t been able to have batting practice outside (due to the cold), so he hasn’t been able to go out there and take fly balls,” Gardenhire said. “So to be able to go out there and do a decent job was pretty important.”

Palacios played left field on Saturday, when he had to deal with roaring and swirling winds. He failed to come up with two pop flies that even an experienced outfielder would have found challenging.

But he didn’t let that affect him at the plate, where he went 4-for-4 to raise his average to .345. Palacios was hitless in three at-bats in Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Indians while enjoying an uneventful day in right field.

“It was crazy (Saturday),” Palacios said. “The wind was hitting me in the face, and the ball would just go anywhere. I try to separate defense and offense and just keep working on it and just do what I can do. Wherever they put me I am going to do my best.”

Palacios originally signed with the Twins as an international free agent in 2013 out of Venezuela. He returned to the organization as a free agent prior to last season.

He said he had an offer from two other teams. He decided to come back to the Twins on a one-year deal because it was the first team to give him a chance, and because he felt he was treated well.

“We loved him when we had him here before he was traded,” Gardenhire said. “When we had the chance to get him back everybody was really excited. He is a really good shortstop, but we have the benefit of having a few really good shortstops on this team. But he’s as good as anybody out there.”

Palacios likely will see time at third and second base this season, which he said is fine with him.

“If you can play shortstop, I think you can play anywhere,” he said.

Palacios played for Double-A Wichita in 2021, batting .259 with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs, showing power for the first time as a professional.

“I just tried to hit the ball harder,” he said, “and the home runs came. I hope I can continue to do it. I will continue to try to hit the ball hard, and whatever happens, happens.”

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