Luis Arraez left the title at bat for hamstring pain

CHICAGO — Luis Arraez wants to earn his batting title and play it to the end. But after going all out from second at home by scoring on a single in Detroit on Saturday, he got to his feet cautiously and was clearly feeling the effects of left hamstring pain that hampered him for a long time. part of the second half.

Considering Arraez entered Monday with an AL-leading .315 batting average — four points ahead of Aaron Judge — those missed board appearances are very important in a close race that holds historic significance, as the judge winning the batting title would also pay him. the second Triple Crown since 1967. And yes, the Twins are aware of this significance.

“I want to win the batting title fight,” Arraez said.

“I judge it based on his physical condition,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s baseball history. It’s a batting title race. These things are important to all of us. Very important to Luis and every other player involved as well. I know that.

“But if our guy, who’s a player and takes the field every day for us, can’t swing without jumping on one leg and can’t run to first base or score on a hit, then I think it’s hard to put it out there so again we will continue to evaluate it and hope it improves.

Arraez has been struggling with the hamstring issue for three months, he said, but was able to play most of the time until his condition worsened lately. After having to score from second place on that play in Detroit, he went to his manager and told Baldelli he probably couldn’t do it anymore.

He estimates he only ran at around 60%, with pain as he stretches for the ball while playing in the field at first base as well. In fact, Baldelli said Arraez might have already been closed for the season had it not been for the context of this batting run and the significance of the achievement for Arraez and Judge.

“Right now he’s not physically as fit as he was last month,” Baldelli said. “We’re just boiling it down to simple things: Can he score on a hit right now if he’s at second base? The answer is, I don’t think so. I don’t think he could go strong and to score on a hit. I think he’s about to have to go base to base, which I don’t think is reasonable to force him to manage.”

Baldelli held Arraez out of the lineup Sunday while Judge went 0 for 3 with a walk and three strikeouts. Baldelli said Arraez is still being evaluated and worked out by strength and conditioning staff, in hopes that Arraez might be available for tough assignments on Monday or a potential return to the roster on Tuesday. , depending on how he feels.

Arraez was hitting .338 late in the first half, leading to his first career All-Star selection for the Midsummer Classic in Los Angeles. But the hamstrings took their toll in the second half, when he hit .286 as Judge closed the gap.

A first career batting title would mean a lot to him, a testament not just to his hitting ability, but to the work he’s done this offseason to strengthen his legs to help him endure the rigors of a season. complete – and he insists he wants to be out there, on the pitch, until the end.

“We’re at a point right now where if he could be there, if I could reasonably think he could come out and play first or DH today, he would be in the lineup,” Baldelli said. “I had to make the call knowing what I know about the way he moves and what he’s going to be capable of, that he can’t play in this physical condition.”

“Everyone knows I’m competing for the batting title,” Arraez said. “Everyone knows I want to play every day. I work hard in my offseason for that. But 100% I don’t feel well today. If I wake up well tomorrow I’ll tell Rocco that I I want to play. I want to play. I want to end my season strong. I want to play.”

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