Injury updates on Kepler, Maeda, more Twins

May 17th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins committed two costly errors in their 7-6 loss to the A's on Sunday, and worse, they emerged from the game with three more players banged up in (tight hamstring), (left hand contusion) and (groin tightness).

Fortunately for the Twins and their fraught outfield situation, Kepler isn't expected to need a stint on the injured list, manager Rocco Baldelli said before Monday's series opener against the White Sox.

Here's a rundown of the Twins' most recent injury updates:


Baldelli said after Sunday's game that Kepler's hamstring tightened while running the bases, leading to his exit after he doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Andrelton Simmons' game-tying homer in the eighth inning.

Though Kepler is expected to need "a little time" before starting in center field again, per Baldelli, he's expected to work through the issue without a lengthy stint away from the field.

Kepler's condition had the most significant implications for the roster considering the Twins have already sustained injuries to outfielders , and Jake Cave.

Kepler is the only true center fielder on the Twins' 26-man roster, and Baldelli had to insert Rob Refsnyder there following Kepler's exit, marking Refsnyder's first career MLB appearance and 15th professional game at the position. Kyle Garlick has also been mentioned as a center-field possibility in a pinch, but he has been playing through a groin issue as well.


Kirilloff took batting practice and did fielding drills before Monday's game, and he is expected to progress to a rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul later this week, Baldelli said.

"I was watching him swing, and I think he looked pretty good," Baldelli said. "I think it’s a very good day for him. Puts us in a good spot going forward."

It's not necessarily an indication that the Twins expect Kirilloff to return to the field; the 23-year-old's appearances with the Saints will help with the evaluation process as he and the medical staff determine whether he can play through the sprained right wrist that has sidelined him since May 5 or if he'll need immediate surgery.

Kirilloff hit against the velocity machine on Monday, but the Twins want to see how he responds to seeing offspeed pitches and live pitching as part of a full-speed game experience.

"He's going to have to prove to himself that he can do it, come back the next day, and for that wrist to be good to go," Baldelli said. "Once he feels that and gets a few at-bats and tests it and feels good, then I think we're having a discussion about when he returns."


Astudillo was pulled from Sunday's game with a left hand contusion sustained when he was hit by a 93.5 mph sinker from Oakland starter Chris Bassitt in the second inning. He was said to be initially experiencing some swelling and bruising, but he reported to the ballpark feeling better on Monday and was available for the game against Chicago.

Though Astudillo caught another inning and took one more at-bat following the hit-by-pitch, the Twins removed him following his third-inning flyout with two men aboard, when they noticed he was having trouble holding on to the bat on certain swings due to the pain.

"We weren't going to, at that point, force the issue if he was incapable of doing that," Baldelli said.


Maeda was dealing with minor groin tightness during Sunday's game, but he insisted to Baldelli that he had pitched through the issue earlier in his career and could stay on the mound. The Twins aren't yet sure whether he'll need to miss a start, and they expect to learn more about his condition after he throws on Tuesday.

Maeda still made close to a full start on Sunday, throwing 89 pitches over four-plus innings, but he allowed a double and three straight singles to open the fifth inning before he was pulled. He was ultimately charged with five runs (three earned). The right-hander received treatment following the game.

"This was not, I would call it, as severe of an issue as things that he's pitched with before," Baldelli said. "So he considered it mild and something that he was perfectly OK throwing with. But that being said, it's not something that we want to carry on throughout the season and have him deal with over the long haul."


Though Buxton was on the field once again before Monday's game, he still hasn't ramped up to more significant running, which will be the biggest test in his recovery from a Grade 2 right hip strain that sent him to the IL on May 7.

"We’re talking about someone that needs to be able to run, and run the way he can, when he returns," Baldelli said. "Again, he’s not at that point yet. We’re still building him up to the point where he can actually test it out."