Time to send a message: Twins manager needs to bench Eddie Rosario

Rocco Baldelli doesn’t have many rules for his players, but the Twins manager will have made a massive mistake if he allows Eddie Rosario anywhere near his starting lineup on Thursday against Kansas City.

The Twins outfielder forfeited his right to play for at least a game — if not more — by putting forth an embarrassing lack of effort in the eighth inning of the Twins’ 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night at Target Field.

With the Twins trailing 2-1, Rosario hit a ball off the right field wall. Instead of running hard, Rosario watched the ball out of the batter’s box thinking it was going to be a home run. Rosario attempted to kick it into another gear after the ball hit the wall as White Sox center fielder Adam Engel hustled over to grab it. Engel’s throw to third was in time and Rosario was out. The play was reviewed and the call upheld.

How bad was it? White Sox analyst Steve Stone does a masterful job of breaking down Rosario’s lack of hustle below.

Chicago’s Zack Collins homered in the top of the ninth inning to give the White Sox an insurance run. It’s a baseball sin for a player to commit the third out of an inning at third base, but Baldelli wasn’t critical of Rosario.

“I don’t mind that play. Would I call it probably the right play? Maybe not,” Baldelli said. “But he was making something happen. He hits the ball down the right field line. He might not have seen the center fielder going over there to pick that ball up. He might have thought he was going in standing up, for all I know.

“It was a great play by their center fielder to get over there and to make a pretty good throw to third base. Usually in those situations you’d probably say, with two outs, if you’re going to go you would probably make sure you’re standing up. But it’s harder out on the field when making those decisions then it is where we’re sitting. It is what it is. That’s not the reason we lost the game.”

Baldelli did not address Rosario’s complete lack of hustle but one would think that had to bother the Twins manager. One would also think it earned Rosario a seat beside Baldelli for at least one day, if not more. Otherwise, Baldelli is signing off on the type of play that could get the Twins a quick ticket out of the postseason.