Notes: Tovar positive; Donaldson's big day

July 13th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins announced on Sunday that non-roster infielder tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in workouts at the club's alternate training site in St. Paul. Tovar is said to be asymptomatic and in quarantine, and he has consented to the release of his name.

Tovar is the fifth player in the Twins' 60-man player pool to test positive for COVID-19, along with Miguel Sanó, Willians Astudillo, Nick Gordon and Edwar Colina. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said that Tovar cleared the intake protocol, but showed a positive result on a subsequent test. The Twins conducted a contact-tracing process at their St. Paul location and do not have any additional concerns at this time.

Sanó, Astudillo and Gordon are still not cleared to return to the team and remain in quarantine. Colina, a non-roster pitcher, has since tested negative twice in a row, clearing him for activity, and he is building up his strength at the club's Minor League facility in Fort Myers, Fla. He will likely fly up to the Twin Cities to join the team at some point this week.

With less than two weeks remaining before the Twins play their Opening Day matchup on July 24, Falvey and manager Rocco Baldelli acknowledged that they will face some degree of uncertainty as to whether Sanó and Astudillo will be on the 30-man roster to begin the season. Sanó would have been the club's Opening Day first baseman, while Astudillo would likely have been a near-lock as the third catcher and backup infielder.

Sanó has continued some baseball activity with a tee and net available to him for swings as he isolates, but the Twins won't have a good sense for the readiness of both players until they clear the protocol and can undergo medical and fitness evaluations at Target Field.

"As we close in here on Opening Day and we're thinking about that 30-player roster to start, we kind of, at this point, are not going to rule anything out," Falvey said. "We recognize as you get closer and less repetitions on the field, it makes it harder to be ready to go once the season starts. That said, because both guys are asymptomatic, because they can be doing some things on their own right now and try and stay as active as possible, we're going to try and keep them active going into this."

The Twins have been playing Marwin González at first base in place of Sanó during their first few intrasquad games.

Elsewhere on the roster, Ehire Adrianza and Mitch Garver have the ability to play first base, but Adrianza could be stretched thin due to the current absence of both Astudillo and Gordon, who would both have served as infield depth. LaMonte Wade Jr. is the only other player on the 40-man roster who could slot in at first base.

Brent Rooker, the Twins' No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has seen a significant number of reps at first base during intrasquad games, but he isn't on the 40-man roster. Zander Wiel also serves as depth there, but he hasn't yet been spotted in Major League camp at Target Field.

If the Twins have to coax González and Adrianza into more action at first, that could open up a spot for the multipositional Travis Blankenhorn, who has participated in intrasquad games and can fill in at second base, third base and left field. He is on the 40-man roster.

"We always talk about fluidity and we talk about staying nimble in decision-making and not committing too early," Baldelli said. "I mean, this is really a situation where we're going to have to see [Sanó and Astudillo] when they come out of it and how they come out of it."

Donaldson flashes power, leather
Third baseman had an active day on both offense and defense during Sunday's intrasquad game when he (maybe) crushed a homer and (definitely) made a nice diving play in the field.

Let's get the uncontroversial out of the way first. Donaldson was shifted over toward the shortstop position in the third inning with the left-handed Jake Cave in the batter's box when Cave hit a sharp ground ball to Donaldson's right. The third baseman snared the shot on a dive and threw to second from the seat of his pants to get a forceout on the play, drawing acknowledgement from shortstop Jorge Polanco.

Earlier, in the bottom of the second inning, Donaldson hit a towering fly ball down the right-field line off Jhoulys Chacín that hit somewhere in the vicinity of the base of the right-field foul pole.

As he rounded first base, Donaldson immediately began moving his right hand in circles in the gesture for "home run," even as several people at field level yelled at him that the ball had gone foul. Undeterred, Donaldson completed the home run trot, celebrated and strolled right back into the dugout, dictating his own conclusion to the plate appearance after (maybe) hitting his second homer of Summer Camp.

Baldelli's take on the matter?

"Donaldson’s double was fair," the skipper said.

Jeffers fine after getting hit by line drive
Catching prospect Ryan Jeffers was hit in the right arm by a Donaldson line drive as he led off first base during the second inning of Sunday's intrasquad contest, but he is expected to be fine. Jeffers, the Twins' No. 6 prospect, was examined on the field by Baldelli and athletic trainer Masa Abe before walking into the dugout.

"He was actually going to end up catching an inning later in the game, but we just decided to send him inside," Baldelli said. "He seems like he's going to be perfectly fine. He was bouncing around the dugout later on. Would fully expect him to be OK."

Twins tidbits
• Falvey said that the Twins would soon have umpires for their intrasquad games and that the group assigned to Minnesota had completed intake testing. The Twins plan to have a more realistic intrasquad game with umpires, game production, piped-in crowd noise and some other elements being tested by Major League Baseball at some point this week.

"Again, all of these are being tested to see how it feels, see the feedback from players, from staff and everybody," Falvey said. "We haven’t done that yet. We’ll see what that looks like here in the next couple of days."

• The Twins do not yet have any plans in place for organized instruction of their Minor League players. Director of player development Alex Hassan and his staff have continued to coach and contact players remotely via FaceTime and Zoom during the hiatus.