Florimon’s appendix has Gardenhire fit to burst
By Tom Powers, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Elton John doubled over during a concert last summer and had to be rushed to a hospital. He later dramatically declared, as only Sir Elton can, that he nearly died right there on stage because of his bad appendix.
Escape artists Harry Houdini actually did die from a ruptured appendix. And in an episode of “The Simpsons,” Dr. Julius Hibbert performed an emergency appendectomy right in the street, removing the appendix and flinging it up the road just before it exploded like a bomb.
Here at Twins camp, an appendix again is causing problems.
“I was sleeping and I feel my stomach hurt,” said Pedro Florimon, who is supposed to be the Twins’ Opening Day shortstop. “I try to take some pills but it didn’t help. Then I see the pain is getting more and more and I say, ‘I have to go to the doctor because something is weird in me right now.’ ”
Poor Florimon hasn’t been able to move around much since.
“I’m not worried,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, looking exceedingly worried. “Once you get halfway through this month, then I’ll start wondering.”
Florimon stood in the infield during batting practice on Sunday. He watched with his arms folded as baseballs scooted past.
Now, I may not be an expert on such things, but I’d venture that Florimon will at least have to be able to bend over to be able to play shortstop for the Twins in their March 31 season opener.
So far, he hasn’t been able to practice or train. It’s a shame for a couple of reasons. Florimon is a great kid who really wants to do well. Plus, he needs to get to work in the batting cage. He is, to put it mildly, a horrible hitter, although he is slightly less horrible from the left side than the right.
And finally, the Twins may not have another shortstop to replace him. Currently, they are evaluating former Twin Jason Bartlett to see how much he has left in the tank. Utility man Eduardo Escobar has all he can do to remain employed as a utility man, never mind play shortstop for an extended period. Prospect Danny Santana is intriguing but raw and needs more experience.
For now, Gardenhire continues to whistle past the graveyard and insist that Florimon is his guy.
“Yes, if he comes back healthy,” he said. “There’s questions on how long is he going to be out. He actually took an infield (session) yesterday, didn’t do anything today. He hasn’t done much.”
But he’s not worried.
“No,” he said, fidgeting uncomfortably.
“This was bad luck,” Florimon said. “You never know when something is going to happen. But I think I’m going to be ready.”
Florimon, 27, is a very slick fielder who can make spectacular plays. But he really struggled at the plate in 2013, his first full season with the Twins. In 401 at-bats he hit just .221 and posted an anemic on-base percentage of .281. He struck out 115 times. Worse, he demonstrated an inability to handle the bat in strategic situations; he didn’t bunt well and he didn’t make enough contact to move a runner along.
What he needs to work on is, well, let him tell it:
“My swing,” he said, emphatically. “Always. I need to work from both sides of the plate. I need to get ready from both sides. If I get a chance, I will try to bunt a lot this year. Run more if the situation is right. And I’ll try to strike out not too much.
“I don’t know. I want to try to get everything ready. We can’t do it right now. We’ll see in a couple of days.”
Gardenhire doesn’t need him to hit for a high average; he’ll settle for him not killing rallies.
“If you’re relying on him to hit .280 you’re barking up the wrong tree,” Gardnhire said. “If we can get him to .250, .240 — those are just numbers I’m throwing out there — and doing all the little things with the bat, I’d be happy with that as long as everybody else does their part.”
Florimon knows the job is his. He also knows he needs to get out there pretty soon if he wants to hold onto it. But there’s only so much he can do. Hey, in an episode of “Family Matters,” Steve Urkel collapsed with appendicitis and was out of commission for a long time.
“I can’t relax,” Florimon said. “Everybody is fighting for a job and I have to do the same.”
“We’ll see. I’m really not worried yet,” said Gardenhire, looking as if he were about to explode.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner of Forum News Service.