MINNEAPOLIS -- Nelson Cruz is already gone, and other veterans will surely follow before the dust settles on the Trade Deadline, now only six days away.
On the other side, this Twins' coaching staff will be confronted with the youngest roster they've had in three years, with young players and prospects all over the field that could be instrumental in their hopes to contend in 2022 and beyond. There's no question that they'll get extended looks at Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Nick Gordon and others who have a great deal to learn from this opportunity.
With that in mind, the coaches are already preparing for a learning-intensive next two months to prime the youngsters for that opportunity -- starting by buckling down on the game's fundamentals and little things, with added early work before games and more attention to detail in addressing those aspects when they arise during games.
“It's a combination of the makeup of our group, which is younger and less experienced, combined with the fact that we have to get better," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "There are many areas of the game that we have to improve upon, and we will not shy away from that.
"We can find some individual positives and some group things we can look at and feel good about, but the areas that we need to improve on will hold us back unless we make a point to get them better."
What will they address? Well, just about everything is in play. Baserunning, fielding, positioning, bunting and other "little things" skills will be in focus, as will even more basic fundamentals like communication on the field. On many occasions this season, the Twins have seen lapses in such areas hold them back -- and they want to nip that in the bud with their young core pieces.
"It's changed to a young team, and not only that -- because of the pandemic, those guys did not get the live reps that they would have gotten in a normal year," said infield coordinator and third-base coach Tony Diaz. "So we've just got to get back to the roots of fundamental baseball. It's not rocket science. It's being more detail-oriented when it comes to the fundamentals and the mental side of the game."
Not much will change for the veterans, who have been through these things before, but for the young players, this is an important chance to develop the foundation that might not have been emphasized as much in the Twins teams of 2019 and '20.
"It's just them helping us fine-tune our careers," Gordon said. "They've been here. They know what's going on. They're been through all the ropes and pretty much seen everything in big league baseball. We haven't. We have a lot that we haven't experienced yet and will experience."
Arraez goes on 10-day IL
Though Luis Arraez was able to take some swings during pregame batting practice on Friday, it appears that he wasn't able to show the Twins what they needed to keep him on a quick path to recovery, as the 24-year-old was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right knee strain before Saturday's game.
"It’s when he’s going to be able to sprint and when he’s going to be able to be on his feet, change directions and run the way he’s going to need to run if we’re going to put him in a game," Baldelli said Friday. "That’s going to tell us more."
Arraez injured the leg on a play in left field during the fourth inning of Tuesday night's game against the White Sox when he slipped while attempting to catch an eventual José Abreu triple. An MRI revealed a minor strain of the soleus muscle in Arraez's right leg, Baldelli said.
The multipositional Arraez also missed 19 games with a right shoulder strain and five games with a concussion earlier this season.
In corresponding moves, Jake Cave was reinstated to the active roster from the 60-day IL following his recovery from a stress reaction in his low back. To make room on the 40-man roster, Kyle Garlick was moved to the 60-day IL following the news that he'll need a surgical procedure to repair his sports hernia.
Twins host family of late youth baseball coach Jay Boughton
As the search continues for suspects in the fatal shooting of local youth baseball coach Jay Boughton on Highway 169 in Plymouth earlier this month, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony and the organization tried to bring some joy for his family before Friday's game against the Angels by introducing Boughton's wife and two children to some of the players and coaches around Target Field.
A post to the club's Twitter account showed Boughton's son and daughter in photos with Baldelli, Byron Buxton, Willians Astudillo and Angels superstar Mike Trout as part of their experience around the ballpark.
"Just simply being able to do our small part and have some fun with them and some laughs out on the field, it means a lot to all of us in the organization, and the players," Baldelli said. "For us, that’s one of the greatest types of impacts we can have. I hope they enjoyed themselves at the park and enjoyed the ballgame itself."