September 26, 2022

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Urshela’s walk-up music calming to himself, Twins teammates

Four or five times a night, the buzz at Target Field sounds vaguely like a revival meeting. The music swells, a choir sings in a staccato rhythm — “This is not where I belong,” are the somewhat counterintuitive lyrics — and “you know who’s up,” Byron Buxton said.

Yes, it’s Gio Urshela, whose choice of music as he prepares to hit is ear-catchingly unusual in an era of techno-pop walk-up songs. While most players choose up-tempo music with heavy beats in order to get fired up for their at-bat, Urshela chose a distinctive religious song — “Where I Belong” by the Christian rock band Building 429.

“I don’t know what it is, but I like it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s very mellow.”

Urshela doesn’t know much about the North Carolina-based band, either, but he has appreciated their song since 2015, when he heard it whenever Cleveland teammate David Murphy came to the plate. When Murphy was traded at midseason, Urshela made the song his own, and he used it with the Blue Jays and Yankees, too.

He endorses the religious message of the song, Urshela said, and how it makes him optimistic and confident as he comes to the plate. But mostly, he said, “I just like how it sounds.”

So do fans, several of whom have reached out on social media to compliment him on his choice. And so do his teammates.

“To me, it’s relaxing. Even when I’m sitting and watching, it’s very calming, like — hey, Gio’s here,” Buxton said. “Not necessarily Zen music, but it’s uplifting.”

Celestino has COVID

Buxton broke his 0-for-30 slump with a head-first slide into first base on Thursday night, and Baldelli said he checked the outfielder’s condition after the game.

“Those headfirst slides, every single one, you’ve got to give it a second look,” the manager said. “There’s just a lot of negative health situations that come from guys sliding into first base. I don’t know why that is.”

Buxton was fine, though he sat out Friday’s game as part of the Twins’ program for keeping him healthy. But the Twins put another outfielder on the injured list Friday afternoon.

Gilberto Celestino began feeling ill after Thursday’s game, and the Twins had him tested for COVID-19 on Friday. When the test came back positive, he was placed on the injured list, joining pitcher Joe Ryan as sidelined by the virus.

“He’s feeling some symptoms, but doing OK,” Baldelli said.

By coincidence, lefthander Danny Coulombe, who suffered a minor left hip impingement earlier this month, was eligible to be activated, so the Twins restored him to the bullpen. Coulombe relieved Bailey Ober in the fourth inning Friday.

Altuve-esque

Luis Arraez, whose hitting streak reached seven games in the first inning Friday, last week received a compliment from Hall of Fame Rod Carew, who noted that “Luis reminds me as much of myself as any hitter the Twins have ever had.”

Carlos Correa on Friday compared the Twins’ top hitter for batting average to another star. When the shortstop said before the game that the Twins’ clubhouse reminds him of the Astros’ for its friendliness and work ethic, he was asked which teammate is most like seven-time All-Star Jose Altuve.

“I think it’s Arraez. He gets hits every day, and he’s always in a great mood. And When he’s 4-for-4 and misses his last at-bat, he gets mad,” Correa said. “He’s looking for perfection, always. Just like Jose.”