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Twins send Wilson to Cubs for Gimenez

CLEVELAND — Back in late June, as Bobby Wilson battled through heat exhaustion at Wrigley Field before staggering to first with a walk he does not remember, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon asked the plate umpire to check on him.

Now Maddon, who knows Wilson well from their time with the Los Angeles Angels, will get to keep a closer eye on the veteran backup catcher after the Twins traded him to the Cubs on Thursday, Aug. 30. The deal was consummated roughly 32 hours before Friday’s deadline for postseason eligibility.

“I’ve known Joe for a long time,” Wilson said. “He’s always taken care of me, always looked out for me since I was a kid my first year in big-league camp. The opportunity to win a world championship in my baseball career, that’s kind of the last thing on the bucket list. To be able to do that with the Cubs, it’s special.”

In return, the Twins get Chris Gimenez, their backup catcher in 2017, and a player to be named or cash. Gimenez, also 35, hit just .143 in 12 games for the Cubs this season and had been outrighted to Triple-A.

Gimenez, who made six emergency pitching appearances last season, figures to join the Twins once September roster expansion kicks in Saturday. Wilson, who had cleared revocable trade waivers, is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday after rolling his ankle by stepping on a bat Aug. 23.

“This was a unique opportunity,” Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. “I think about what Bobby is and what he’s meant in this clubhouse, and I remember having a lot of conversations last year about what Chris was about and what Chris meant to this clubhouse. I see why they’re viewed similarly in many ways.”

Rooker to AFL

Double-A Chattanooga slugger Brent Rooker heads the list of eight Twins prospects named to the Arizona Fall League on Thursday.

Joining Rooker, a left fielder/first baseman drafted out of Mississipi State in 2017, will be fellow Chattanooga outfielders Luke Raley and Jaylin Davis along with reliever Devin Smeltzer. Lookouts manager Tommy Watkins will manage them with the Salt River Rafters.

Four members of Class A Fort Myers are headed west as well: infielder Travis Blankenhorn, starter Griffin Jax and relievers Hector Lujan and Alex Robinson.

Rooker, who turns 24 in November, has a career .506 slugging percentage and 40 homers through 712 at-bats in pro ball. Raley and Smeltzer were acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Brian Dozier deal on July 31.

Jax, a graduate of Air Force Academy, also turns 24 in November and has opened eyes in his longest stint of pro ball this summer. Through 85 innings for the Miracle, the right-hander has a 3.28 earned run average and a 5/1 strikeout/walk ratio.

Play begins Oct. 9 and runs through Nov. 17.

Drake to the Hall

Jay and Celeste Drake of Mount Hermon, Mass., added a new vacation destination this week: the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., to visit their son Oliver’s Twins cap.

“My dad is pretty geeked up,” said Oliver Drake, a well-traveled reliever who set a major league record by appearing for five different teams this season. “He and my mom were saying they might have to make a trip this fall.”

At the hall’s request, Drake, 31, donated his game-used cap from Tuesday’s outing in Cleveland, when he struck out the side in the seventh inning of an 8-1 loss. A bat-missing revelation since the Twins claimed him off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Oct. 3, Drake entered Thursday with a 2.38 earned run average and nine-inning strikeout rate of 11.1 in nine outings for the Twins.

That was significantly better than what he’d done in four previous stops this year with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels and Blue Jays. Going back to his hunched, overhand, unconventional delivery — part Sidd Finch, part golfer Jim Furyk — has helped get him going again.

“I’ve thrown like that for pretty much the whole time since I became a full-time reliever,” he said. “Actually this year I made some tweaks to it. I was standing straight upright. Like any changes, it was done to improve in a lot of areas. After a while I wasn’t getting the results I wanted so I went back to what worked in the past.”

Briefly

Kyle Gibson’s next start will be pushed back a day to Labor Day afternoon in Houston as the Twins prepare to open September with an expanded roster and a six-man rotation.

Jose Berrios, already getting an extra day after Monday’s off day, will start Saturday as scheduled at the Texas Rangers. But Sunday’s starter could be any of Zack Littell (normal rest), Fernando Romero (extra day) or lefty Lewis Thorpe, who would be working on six days’ rest after coming up from Triple-A Rochester.

Shortstop Jorge Polanco tested his tight left hamstring with some on-field work Thursday morning. Molitor said he was “hopeful” Polanco, out since Sunday, could return to the lineup by Friday at Texas but added it wasn’t a “slam dunk” that he would.

When it was mentioned that Willians Astudillo appeared to steal a couple of low strikes in his second big-league game at catcher, Molitor chuckled. “Yeah? Well, he’s low,” Molitor said of the squatty backstop.

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