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Injuries and COVID and travel restrictions... oh my!

Can the Twins stay on top with all these injuries and sicknesses?

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Hi friends!

I hope you’re all relaxed and refreshed from a long weekend, and I hope you took a moment to think of those that should be remembered on Memorial Day. My family and I had a rare weekend off from youth baseball and softball tournaments so we naturally headed out to Target Field on Friday night. (And holy buckets, what a glorious night for baseball it was. Much better than the last time I was there...) And it’s been a good month of May for the Twins, right? Through the time I’m writing this (just before the second half of the doubleheader between the Tigers and Twins), the Twins have gone 18-11 in May (with today’s second game left to play). As of right now, the Twins are 4.5 games ahead of the White Sox for first place in the AL Central. Somehow they’ve managed to play this well despite the hits coming one after another for this rapidly dwindling Twins roster.

Over the last week or so, I feel like every day we’ve heard about at least one player getting hurt or being out of the lineup while nursing an injury. Thankfully, not everyone that’s been hurt has gone to the IL, but their absences are definitely noticeable while they’re out. And I was thinking back to last season and how they never were able to regain their footing after a bunch of guys went out with COVID and injuries and I began to worry that this could start the same sort of slide. The Twins have been lucky that they’ve been able to overcome losing a guy here or there, and taking games over their division rivals.

But June? June’s going to have a lot tougher of a schedule than May did, and this lack of roster depth is going to start to hurt. Piling on to the sick and injured are the (as of now unnamed) players that will be unable to travel to Toronto to face the Blue Jays. Don’t let their position at third place in the AL East fool you, the Jays are a really good team with a .573 win percentage and some really hungry young players (along with our old friend Jose Berrios).

So here we are, down a few guys, thanks to some injuries (or COVID) and now also unable to bring our full squad to Toronto since a few unnamed guys aren’t vaccinated (their choice, fine whatevs. But it still sucks). The conspiracy theorist part of me wonders if some of the ‘soreness’ injuries might be a way to cover for players that are unvaccinated so they don’t get hate for not going to Canada, but I digress. In any case, we keep losing players and have very little depth in certain places (bullpen, infield, outfield, starting pitching.. wait.. that’s everywhere) when just a couple of weeks ago we almost had an embarrassment of riches at some positions.

Remember way back to May 18 when the Twins sent Royce Lewis back to St. Paul and we were all hoping to find a way to keep him and Correa on the roster at the same time? Well were we in for a treat when on Sunday when Audra Martin tweeted this:

And then this:

Ooooh, interesting! Royce at centerfi...OH MY GOD NEVER MIND HE GOT HURT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. Adding insult to injury, our regular, full time shortstop, Carlos Correa tested positive mid-game yesterday for the ‘rona. With Lewis out, the Twins had to call up <checks notes> Jermaine Palacios from St. Paul. Ok, so that’s happening. As of today, the Twins have a taxi squad that consists of Alex Kiriloff, Mark Contreras, and Yennier Cano (joining Palacios) that are ready, willing, and able to jump in as needed to cover all these holes in the lineup.

A couple of weeks ago, our boy John, also known as Imakesandwichesforaliving, gave us a nice little rundown of all of the injuries plaguing the Twins at the time. A bunch of these guys are still out, but now we get to add a few more to the list. Without further adieu, here is the list of guys that are currently out:

COVID-19 list:

  • SS Carlos Correa (Return TBD)
  • OF Gilberto Celestino (Return TBD)
  • SP Joe Ryan (Return TBD)
  • Unnamed players to be out Friday - Sunday.

10 & 15 day IL:

  • SS Royce Lewis (Right knee bone bruise, Return TBD). WE LITERALLY JUST GOT HIM BACK. Ugh.
  • RHP Josh Winder (Right shoulder impingement, expected return: Week of June 6)
  • LHP Danny Columbe (Left hip impingement, Return TBD). No sooner did we get him back then bam! Back on the list the next day.
  • RHP Cody Stashak (Right shoulder impingement, Return TBD). Further decimating the bullpen is a sore shoulder for Stashak. He’s been out since his last appearance on May 21.

60 Day IL:

  • RHP Jorge Alcala (Right elbow inflammation, expected return mid-June). What started as a trip to the 10-day list back in April, it was clear Alcala’s elbow needed more than a week or two and he was moved to the 60-day injured list.
  • RHP Randy Dobnak (Right middle finger strain, expected return June). I often strain my right middle finger too, but I don’t have to hurl a baseball at 95 mph for a living. He has yet to pitch this season with this injury going back to last season. The Twins are hopeful it’ll resolve itself soon.
  • 1B Miguel Sanó (Left knee meniscus, expected return July). I’ve already said my piece about Sano, as has Zach. The likelihood that we’ll see the Sanó back at first in a Twins uniform is about as likely as the Twins getting Justin Morneau out of retirement and putting him back at first.
  • RHP Jhon Romero (Right biceps tendinitis, expected return TBD). Romero hit the 15 day list in April, and landed on the 60 day list to make room for Yennier Cano. Chances are he’ll be back sooner than later if we keep losing players at this pace.
  • RHP Kenta Maeda (Tommy John surgery, expected return: TBD but as early as September!). Tommy John used to be a minimum 18 month recovery time, but due to some fancy new internal brace as part of the surgery, he could be back in as little as half the normal recovery time. Even more promising is that Maeda threw 25 times from 105 feet on May 23 and is progressing towards throwing from 120 feet in the next step of his plan. Imagine if we get him back in time to be able to make the playoff roster? That would be amazing. Except we’d have to make the playoffs first.. and with this slew of injuries...... shhh. Don’t think about that yet.
  • RHP Chris Paddack (Tommy John surgery, out for the season). He was just starting to make me not mad about losing Taylor Rogers for him and then *womp womp*, he needed to have his second TJ Surgery.

Not officially on any list but nursing injuries:

  • OF Max Kepler Quad injury? Soreness? That kept him out Sunday, but he played yesterday at DH.
  • SP Sonny Gray (Return TBD) As of the time I’m writing this, he’s listed as day-to-day buuuuut it looks like a trip to the IL is coming.
  • 2B Jorge Polanco Right ankle soreness kept him out a couple of days last week and please, please, please, don’t let it flare up.
  • OF Byron Buxton He’s not officially hurt right now, but between his hip and knee the Twins have been very protective of their investment and will not hesitate to pull him from a lineup if he so much as stubs his toe.
  • 1B Alex Kirilloff (Right wrist, currently officially still in St. Paul but on the taxi squad to join the Major League squad in Toronto)

Do you think that the skeleton crew we are going to have on the field over the next week or two (or more) will be able to sustain their first place spot in the AL Central? Will more players fall to COVID? Would the regular starters even been able to handle the June schedule and stay on top? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Stay well and be excellent to each other, my friends.