Polanco to miss 'a few days' after early exit
Shortstop injures left adductor on diving play in second inning
The Twins expect shortstop Jorge Polanco to be fine after he experienced left adductor tightness on a diving play and exited after four innings during the club’s 4-2 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Polanco landed awkwardly on the baseball when he dove for Kevin Newman’s infield single in the top of the second inning. Baldelli walked onto the field to examine Polanco and left him in the game, but he pulled the shortstop after Polanco felt tightness in the area while running out a ground ball.
The Twins will get Polanco some treatment on Wednesday and evaluate him after Thursday’s off-day, but they don’t expect the issue to be noteworthy.
“I wouldn’t expect this to linger or be here much more than a couple days; maybe a few days,” Baldelli said.
That’s significant because the Twins have gotten the majority of their projected Opening Day lineup together in the past few days, a group that finally included shortstop Andrelton Simmons alongside the other starters on Sunday and convened again in Tuesday’s starting lineup. It could be worth noting that Brent Rooker -- and not Alex Kirilloff -- has started in left field in both of those games.
Now that the group has been assembled, Minnesota hopes Polanco will return to the field quickly so that he and Josh Donaldson can continue to play alongside Simmons to get time to jell as a defensive unit, though Luis Arraez will likely be able to take advantage by getting reps at second next to Simmons as well.
“I don't think it's going to take forever to get to know Simmons as a player, as a shortstop, how his game works and his instincts work and his feel works out there, but I think every guy will certainly benefit from being out there with him,” Baldelli said.
Video? What video?
Keep an eye on the pregame scoreboard whenever the Twins play the Pirates or Rays, because skippers and longtime friends Baldelli, Derek Shelton and Kevin Cash love to poke fun at each other.
Before Tuesday’s game, the Twins took a fun jab at Shelton, their former bench coach, by playing a video on the stadium JumboTron of an ejection incident in which he was involved. When asked about that, Baldelli chose to maintain plausible deniability.
“I didn’t know anything about that video,” Baldelli said, maintaining his poker face. “I didn’t know that was actually taking place. I don’t even know when you’re talking about, because I didn’t see it or hear anything about it. But as we all know, the internet is a beautiful, glorious place at times, and this could just be one of those examples.”
Shelton didn't buy it -- and when offered a chance to hit back at Baldelli, he turned to the tried-and-true weapon in his arsenal.
“It’s hard when you have a guy who’s the two-time most handsome guy in baseball to compete with,” Shelton said. “Feel free to use that everywhere. Back-to-back.”
Twins pitchers ready to relocate
In an effort to maintain sufficient space between players early in camp, the club opted to give its position players use of the stadium clubhouse facilities while the pitchers were pushed to the Minor League facilities on the back fields, essentially keeping the two groups separate outside of games. Throughout Spring Training, pitchers have remarked that it often feels like they’re part of a different team.
Following their first two rounds of cuts on Sunday and Monday, the Twins are finally in a position to bring their group together on the stadium side. For many, that can’t come quickly enough.
“We are going to be all together as a team and be able to build that chemistry,” starter José Berríos said. “All that stuff. We miss each other. Tomorrow, we're going to be together again."
“I might meet some people, finally,” reliever Tyler Duffey said. “I’m getting tired of walking over here and guys are like, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’ Well, I do play for the Twins. ... I don’t think I’ve met half of the new guys on the team yet.”