Twins option Kirilloff to alternate training site

March 23rd, 2021

The Twins made several roster moves after Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Pirates at LECOM Park. They optioned outfielder , the team’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to the alternate training site, and they reassigned pitchers Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax, catcher Caleb Hamilton, outfielder Trevor Larnach (No. 3) and shortstop Royce Lewis (No. 1) to Minor League camp. Jax started Tuesday's game, posting three scoreless frames.

Of the players sent down, Kirilloff was the most interesting, because he was given every chance to make the club, but he went 4-for-31 (.129) with eight strikeouts. Meanwhile, fellow left-field candidates Brent Rooker and Kyle Garlick have impressed with strong spring performances. If Kirilloff does not join the club until after April 16, he would not accrue a full year of Major League service time counted toward free agency.

When Kirilloff returns to the big leagues, the Twins want his confidence at a high level, just like when they called him up to play in the postseason against the Astros last year.

“He is a guy I firmly believe will have a long and successful Major League career,” manager Rocco Baldelli said about Kirilloff. “What we really want is for Alex to start his career at the Major League level on a good note -- where he is feeling good, he is locked in and he is ready to go and never look back. I have no doubt we are going to find that point. He has a great head on his shoulders.”

Law making firm case for 'pen
Right-hander has pitched well this spring and put himself in the mix to be part of the Twins’ bullpen this season, according to Baldelli. Law has pitched six shutout innings and struck out 10 batters.

Law, who is a non-roster invitee, made a one-inning appearance on Tuesday and struck out two. His success shouldn’t come as a surprise: When he was with the Giants in 2016, his rookie year, Law had a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances, with 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Since then, Law has struggled on the mound. In '19 with the Blue Jays, he had a 4.90 ERA over 58 games. But things have changed since he joined the Twins this year.

“Derek has thrown the ball from [the get-go],” Baldelli said. “He has handled himself great. He is a good worker. He has been fantastic. We knew he could spin the ball. He has a little funk to the delivery. They don’t get good swings off him. The way he has gone out there and excelled when you put him put there against the competition, that puts him in a really good spot.”

If Law makes the team, he could fit in any type of role out of the bullpen.

“He has done some things,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think we would hesitate to put him in a few different roles. We know that guys in our bullpen must have versatility. They must have the ability to pitch in different spots. … We are always looking for guys that are really throwing the ball like Derek.”

Worth noting
Twins right-hander Matt Shoemaker pitched in a "B" game against the Red Sox on Tuesday morning, going six innings and throwing 81 pitches. He said his final spring start is expected to be two or three innings.

“Usually, I just taper off, just getting ready for the season,” Shoemaker said.